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  • Become travel savvy with safety training for Kent’s young people

    Young people in Kent can now prepare for their adventures abroad by signing up for unique travel safety training that is only available in a limited number of counties throughout the UK.

    The Education People, a Kent County Council Local Authority Trading Company (LATCo), has teamed up with a former Metropolitan Police close protection officer to provide bespoke courses aimed at teenagers and young people planning to travel alone or with friends.

    Duncan Johnston, director of Kent-based Worldlywise Ltd, will deliver the course and will cover topics including which items to pack, how to stay safe and healthy, and how to avoid becoming a victim of crime, as well as giving basic first aid training. The first course will take place in Maidstone just before schools break up for the summer holidays and is being promoted using the hashtag #BeTravelSavvy

    Duncan Johnston, pictured on a state visit to China in his former role, will run the course

    The one-day course is designed to give youngsters the skills and knowledge necessary to travel the world safely and is not in any way intended to put them off embarking on a global adventure.

    Mr Johnston, who worked for national security unit Special Branch during his 30-year career in the police, said: “It’s important to remember that the probability of something bad happening while you’re away travelling is very low. However, there have been a number of stories in the news recently about holidaymakers, and young backpackers in particular, coming to harm while abroad. The world is probably no more dangerous today than it was when I was a teenager, but young people, and their parents, are more aware of the dangers now and are actively seeking advice on how they can stay safe while travelling.

    “The Education People has been fantastic in supporting us and working with us to get this course into schools so young people can benefit from it, and we’re very excited for our first course in June.

    “I would never want to put anyone off travelling, in fact I would encourage young people to travel as they are likely to have some fantastic experiences, and a course like ours can equip them with information, advice and skills needed to keep them safe and healthy and allow them to get the most out of their trip, whether that’s a few weeks in Europe or a year travelling all over the world.”

    Mr Johnston had a 30-year career in the Met Police and is pictured working with them as a training consultant following his retirement

    Although some travel agents offer safety advice to customers travelling abroad, The Education People and Mr Johnston believe this course is unique as it is one of only a handful in the UK aimed specifically at school leavers and young travellers. The bespoke course will also be tailored to offer advice specific to the destinations attendees plan to visit, which they will be asked to specify in advance. Parents/guardians are welcome to join their offspring in the afternoon for the first aid training and a short question and answer session but the majority of the session, which costs £100 for the full day, will be for young people only.

    Mr Johnston added: “We want the young people to feel confident speaking to us and raising issues they may not feel comfortable speaking about in front of their parents or teachers. However, we appreciate parents will also have concerns and questions regarding their son or daughter travelling abroad without them; and everyone can benefit from some first aid training.”

    Mr Johnston has travelled all over the world throughout his career, including to Syria, Libya and Afghanistan. He has worked with Prime Ministers, Presidents and members of the Royal Family as well as accompanying journalists to warzones. He drew on his experience of developing risk mitigation courses, in conjunction with the military, Foreign Office and private sector security companies, for unarmed police officers and civilian police staff working overseas, adapting it for a younger audience travelling for pleasure.

    James Roberts, CEO of The Education People, said: “We are delighted to be working with Duncan Johnston and Worldlywise Ltd to offer this course, which will allow Kent’s young people to stay safe and healthy while travelling abroad. We would encourage families to register for this course sooner rather than later, particularly if their sons or daughters are planning on going away this summer, as we anticipate it proving popular.”

     

    …Ends…

     

     

    Notes to journalists:

    The first travel safety course will take place at Invicta Grammar School in Maidstone from 10am to 4pm on Tuesday, June 25 and is open to young people from all schools. To request a booking form please email Victoria.Parker@theeducationpeople.org. Please do not contact the school. Young people will gain a Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance (HABC) accreditation for attending the course.

    The Education People and Mr Johnston can also offer travel safety training for teachers and school staff preparing to take pupils on trips abroad. To enquire about teacher training or having a course for young people at your venue email joanne.winkler@theeducationpeople.org

    The Education People (TEP) is a company wholly owned by Kent County Council and was established to provide services and products to and on behalf of KCC. TEP supports the full age range from early years to young adults, offering a variety of services to help education professionals improve learning, wellbeing and children’s development. Providers can source training materials, resources and support via the company’s website (www.theeducationpeople.org). The product offer covers areas as diverse as school improvement to outdoor learning, safeguarding to school finance, supported employment to governor support, and equality and inclusion to early years and childcare.

  • Transport consultations launched into bus services in Maidstone and West Malling

    Two consultations have been launched proposing bus pilots in Maidstone and West Malling.

    It comes following last year’s Big Conversation, which gauged opinion on how Kent County Council could best help provide sustainable rural transport.

    KCC currently supports services 13 and 59 in Maidstone. The proposal revises these services to become feeder buses, which provide more frequent journeys for the villages currently served.

    Two consultations have been launched proposing bus pilots

    For this to happen, the services would no longer go all the way into Maidstone and instead terminate at Morrisons, Sutton Road, where passengers would change onto frequent buses into Maidstone or Tenterden. Improvements to bus shelters including digital timing boards are also planned.

    In West Malling, KCC supports the service 58 and plans to adopt a similar approach.

    Two proposals have been devised, which the public are being consulted on:

    • A short feeder service where passengers transfer at Martin Square, Larkfield
    • A long feeder service where passengers transfer at Maidstone Hospital, Barming.

    Both of these would feed into existing commercial services that run into Maidstone town centre.

    School travel will be unaffected, and all services will continue to run directly to and from Maidstone at these times.

    Bus pilots have also been proposed for Dover, Sevenoaks and Tenterden. KCC is currently developing these alongside parish councils.

    If they progress, the trial services would run for at least a year. It is hoped they will prove to be a more sustainable model that can be used elsewhere in the county.

    The consultation launched today (Tuesday, January 22) and finishes on Tuesday, February 19.

    To take part, visit www.kent.gov.uk/consultations or www.kent.gov.uk/maidstonebuspilot or www.kent.gov.uk/westmallingbuspilot

  • 2019 pothole blitz gets underway

    After a relatively mild winter – so far – Kent County Council has once again launched its pothole blitz for 2019.

    KCC will have 11 local contractors delivering the blitz as follows:

    Dartford and Gravesham – O’Rourke Contracting; Sevenoaks – SCG; Tunbridge Wells – Kenson Contractors; Maidstone – Duke Contractors; Tonbridge and Malling – Tom Body Jr; Swale – C W Surfacing Ltd; Canterbury – FM Conway; Ashford – AR Cook; Folkestone and Hythe – Steadline; Thanet – Amey; Dover – G & J Steele.

    Over the course of 2018, KCC has filled over 54,000 individual potholes and carried out over 267,000 sqm of resurfacing where multiple potholes were found.

    The pothole blitz has seen over £15 million in pothole repairs to damaged roads over the last two years

    The issue remains the number one priority for Highways and dedicated teams are assigned their own district to focus the work.

    KCC cabinet member for highways Mike Whiting said: “This year so far has been relatively mild so we’re ensuring that while we can, we will get back out there and fill potholes.

    “We have teams working in each district whose job it is to respond to reports we receive about specific potholes as well as fill those they find on our road network whilst out.”

    Kent County Council is responsible for most of the roads in Kent except motorways and trunk roads.

    Highways England is responsible for motorways and major roads such as the M20, M2, A21, A2, A249 and A20.

     

  • KCC continues work on £7.5 million pothole blitz

    There’s a whole lot of holes being filled on the county’s roads as Kent County Council continues its £7.5 million pothole blitz.

    Since March 1, KCC has filled in 50,307 potholes and carried out 194,257sqm of resurfacing where multiple potholes were found.

    The issue remains the number one priority for Highways and dedicated teams are assigned their own district to focus the work.

    Kent County Council is responsible for most of the roads in Kent except motorways and trunk roads.

    Highways England is responsible for motorways and major roads such as the M20, M2, A21, A2, A249 and A20.

    Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways, Transport and Waste Mike Whiting

    KCC cabinet member for highways Mike Whiting said: “This year saw some freezing cold temperatures which has significantly contributed to the number of potholes on our roads.

    “Water gets into the road surface and when it freezes it expands causing cracks and subsequently potholes.

    “Once temperatures warmed up, KCC immediately began work to repair our network. We ensured the main routes in Kent were fixed first alongside emergency repairs and in April began a dedicated pothole blitz tackling our entire network.”

    “We have teams working in each district whose job it is to respond to reports we receive about specific potholes as well as fill those they find on our road network whilst out.”

    KCC has contracted the work out to local companies in the districts to ensure quicker response times to reports of problems.

    The companies are O’Rourke Contracting in Dartford and Gravesham; SCG Kent Ltd in Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells; Dukes Contractors Ltd in Tonbridge and Malling and Maidstone; Amey LG in Swale and Canterbury; Steadline Ltd in Ashford and Folkestone and Hythe; and A R Cook Contracting in Thanet and Dover.

    Mr Whiting added: “People often assume these are quick and temporary fixes – and in emergency situations they will be to ensure the road is safe – but I can assure you these are revisited for a permanent fix.

    “All this work isn’t to suggest we don’t need people’s help in reporting potholes. We can’t be everywhere all the time and so I’d encourage people to go online and report potholes so we can arrange for them to be filled.”

    Highways England, which has responsibility for motorways and major A routes in the county, is also fixing its potholes.

    KCC, which has drawn part of the funding from reserves, will be reviewing progress in June and will find more money if it is needed.

    Additional funding has also been invested into drainage works across the county.

    Broken down by district, KCC has filled, since March 1:

    Ashford 5,044
    Canterbury 6,849
    Dartford 1,776
    Dover 3,652
    Gravesham 2,137
    Maidstone 5,134
    Sevenoaks 4,812
    Folkestone & Hythe 4,727
    Swale 6,364
    Thanet 2,834
    Tonbridge & Malling 2,594
    Tunbridge Wells 4,383

    And patching, in square metres, which includes multiple potholes:

    Ashford 22,569
    Canterbury 5,657
    Dartford 11,657
    Dover 7,185
    Gravesham 17,361
    Maidstone 23,788
    Sevenoaks 27,424
    Folkestone & Hythe 25,039
    Swale 16,909
    Thanet 13,115
    Tonbridge & Malling 8,919
    Tunbridge Wells 14,635
  • KCC launches online Big Conversation on future of rural bus services 

    Kent County Council has launched its Big Conversation programme online, allowing residents to take part in a consultation on the future of rural transport services.

    For the next eight weeks, until August 8, residents can have their say on how rural transport could look in the future as KCC faces ever decreasing funding to support subsidised bus services.

    The main objectives of the programme are to maintain and, where possible, improve rural accessibility for those without alternative means of travel.

    As well as a consultation booklet and questionnaire, KCC will be running public meetings throughout the county as well as parish seminars, specifically for local councillors.

    The 11 public meetings will be held between 7pm and 9pm at:

    • Dover Town Hall, The Maison Dieu, Biggin Street Dover CT16 1DL on June 19
    • Margate Football Club, Hartsdown Park, Hartsdown Road, Margate CT9 5QZ on June 21
    • Elite Venue, Dunkirk Close, Gravesend, DA12 5ND on June 26
    • STAG Community Arts Centre, Sevenoaks TN13 1ZZ on July 4
    • Borough Green Village Hall, Borough Green, TN15 8DG on July 5
    • University of Kent, Darwin Conference Suite, Canterbury, CT2 7NZ, on July 10
    • Homewood School & Sixth Form Centre, Ashford Road, Tenterden, TN30 6LT on July 17
    • St Mary’s Bay Village Hall, Romney Marsh, TN29 OSW on July 12
    • UK P Leisure, Avenue of Remembrance, Sittingbourne ME10 4DE on July 18
    • Lecture Theatre, Sessions House, Maidstone, ME14 1XQ on July 19
    • High Weald Academy, Angley Road, Cranbrook TN17 2PJ on July 24
    • Princes Park (Dartford Football Club), Princes Park, Darenth Road, Dartford, DA1 1RT on July 25 between 5-7pm

    Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways, Transport and Waste Mike Whiting

    KCC cabinet member for transport Mike Whiting said: “We have been working with transport providers to develop some initial ideas which could protect future services and potentially provide new rural links.

    “These ideas build on the experience of our public transport team and transport providers and consider what could work in Kent, as well as what has worked elsewhere.

    “Ideas such as feeder services, bookable buses, or taxi services could provide an alternative way to support rural transport by replacing routes and journeys currently subsidised by KCC.

    “It is important to highlight that these ideas are at an early stage and we have not investigated making changes to specific services or areas of the county.”

    Around 97% of journeys in Kent are run by private operators, such as Arriva and Stagecoach, with over 50 operators covering 600 services or routes.

    Mr Whiting added: “Once potential ideas have been explored with the market and engagement with residents has been completed we will work on developing these ideas.

    “We are working with transport and technology providers to look at ideas on how we can develop new ways of delivering rural transport.

    “Your feedback is really important, and it will be used to develop potential pilots that will be presented at a Bus Summit in October.”

    Over the last 30 years KCC has funded some routes which, while not commercially viable, have been considered important to meet the needs of the communities and passengers they serve.

    To take part, visit www.kent.gov.uk/bigconversation