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  • 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

  • Summer anti-drink-drive campaign launched

    As the country prepares for the 2018 World Cup, Kent Road Safety is launching its summer anti-drink-driving campaign.

    One in six fatal crashes involves a driver who has been drinking and over 50% of drink-drive collisions happen on residential roads.

    The campaign will run from this month (June) through to the end of August with Kent Road Safety warning that wherever summer takes you – don’t drink and drive.

    Research reveals that over the last three years, August saw the most drink related collisions, with most crashes recorded between 10pm and 11pm.

    Half of all alcohol-related collisions occurred at the weekend and a quarter of all collisions occurred on a Saturday.

    Of those caught drink-driving, 75% are male with the majority of those caught aged between 25 and 40.

    As the opportunities for drinking increase with longer summer days, people are encouraged to plan ahead and arrange alternative ways of getting home, whether by taxi or bus.

    KCC’s Road Safety Team Leader Vicky Harvey said: “If you get behind the wheel after even one drink, you’re risking not only your life, but the lives of any road users you encounter.

    “The message is clear and simple – one drink is not worth the risk. Book a taxi or ensure you have a designated driver for the evening.

    “Driving after just one drink can double the chances of crashing and getting behind the wheel at twice the legal limit makes drivers 30 times more likely to crash.”

    Kent Road Safety is working with pubs across the county to provide posters and beer mats, specifically targeting venues where people may go and watch the World Cup games.

    There will also be radio ads and messaging on supermarket petrol forecourts throughout the summer to remind people of the dangers of drink-driving before they begin consuming alcohol.

    Serious penalties can be handed down to those convicted, with a driving ban of at least one year, an unlimited fine and, possibly, a prison sentence.

    If a drink driver is found guilty of causing death or serious injury the punishments are far higher, including living with the consequences of causing needless grief to others.

    Area Manager for Prevention and Protection at Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) Colin King said: “Every day KFRS is called to road crashes – around 1,000 every year.

    “We see the devastating effect of these crashes and our firefighters often have to cut the victims free from the wreckage.

    “Don’t risk becoming one of those casualties, or worse, by drinking and driving. It’s impossible for you to know how much alcohol will affect your driving – so the safest option is not to drink.

    “It’s also important for drivers not to be distracted by drunk passengers, and to feel empowered to refuse to give anyone a lift if they feel they’re going to impact their ability to drive safely.”

    Chief Inspector Richard Smeed: “The message is simple – don’t drive under the influence of alcohol.

    “Every year innocent motorists and pedestrians are put at risk and this campaign is about telling people who ignore the law that it is not acceptable.

    “Our officers will be conducting proactive patrols of the county’s roads to target those who take to the road under the influence of drink and bring them to justice.”

    Advice for motorists:

    Beware the morning after – you could be over the legal limit many hours after your last drink, even if it’s the ‘morning after’. Sleep, coffee and cold showers don’t help to sober you up.

    There is no excuse for drink driving. Alcohol affects everybody’s driving for the worse. It creates a feeling of overconfidence, makes judging distance and speed more difficult and slows your reactions so it takes longer to stop.

    A large proportion of all drink drive crashes occur within three miles of the start of the journey.

    If you’re planning to drink alcohol, plan how to get home without driving.

    Options include agreeing on a designated driver, saving a taxi number to your phone, or finding out about public transport routes and times before you go out.

    Don’t offer an alcoholic drink to someone you know is planning to drive.

    Even if you’re not driving, you can help reduce the number of people who are killed and injured every year by drink driving.

    Don’t accept a lift from a driver you know has drunk alcohol.

    Consequences:

    There are strict penalties if you are convicted of drink driving, including:

    • A minimum 12 month driving ban
    • A criminal record
    • A hefty fine
    • Up to 6 months in prison
    • An endorsement on your licence for 11 years

    However, this list does not reflect the everyday consequences of being caught drink driving which can include:

    • Increase in car insurance costs
    • Job loss
    • Trouble getting in to countries like the USA
    • The shame of having a criminal record
    • Loss of independence

    The Institute of Advanced Motorists calculate that a drink drive conviction could cost between £20,000 – £50,000 as a result of fines, solicitors fees, increase in car insurance and loss of job.