The Committee were provided with a presentation regarding transport in the Borough from the Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager.
The presentation had been published and could be accessed through the below link:
- (Public Pack)Supplementary - Presentations Agenda Supplement for Strategic Environment Cabinet Committee, 30/03/2022 19:30 (gravesham.gov.uk)
The Chair informed the Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager that she was previously unaware of the issue at Stonebridge Road proposal and would discuss the matter with him after the meeting.
Following the presentation, the Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager and the Assistant Director (Planning) fielded questions and comments from Members and explained that:
- Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager explained the current consultation by KCC in relation to cuts in bus services. For Gravesham these were the Gravesend to New Ash Green route on Sunday’s only and the specialist Kent Karrier dial a ride service
- The operational date for the switch over of Fastrack buses to electric buses was 2023, just going out to tender; no other bus routes were planned to be switched to electric. Electric vehicle charging points for buses will be installed at Garrick Street as part of the enhancement work carried out there. Until the electric bus is selected the form of the charging point will not be known as the manufacturers use different systems
- Bath Street was being considered as another potential area for a bus lane, but no operational time scale has yet been released; the design of the bus lane would take local taxis needs into consideration
- The Government recently announced a Electrical Vehicle strategy aimed at increasing the amount of national car charging points to over 30,000. The Strategy placed an obligation on responsible transport authorities, which is KCC for Kent , to develop a strategy for on street charging points which came with a number of challenges due to external power supply placement and specific requirements for safe installation The Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager agreed that it was important to ensure proper maintenance of existing cycling/walking routes such as the route along Gravesend canal rather than creating new routes and advised that maintenance would form part of the engagement process
- As part of the Local Cycling and Walking Implementation Plan (LCWIP), Members views were being sought on what they would like to see consulted on, where maintenance was required and schemes that should be implemented so that they could form part of the draft strategy prior to public consultation in the autumn. An update from the consultants, when appointed, would be brought back to the Committee meeting in June 2022
- The Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager advised that the Council had not put in a bid to the Department of Transport to host the new headquarters for British Rail although Tonbridge had put in a bid; it was likely that the headquarters would be placed somewhere in the north of the country
- The Assistant Director (Planning) attended the Garrick Street bus hub meetings and it had been confirmed that only buses and cyclists would be able to use the bus gate; historically, taxis had never been allowed to use bus gates across the country. In terms of rules, nothing was changing, the only thing that was changing was enforcement of the bus gate through the installation of an ANPR camera
- The Garrick Street Bus Hub had taken longer than indicated to complete due to an issue with accessing specific materials such as granite. As part of the scheme, a self-contained toilet facility, part funded by the Council, was built however there was never any intention to add additional shops. The existing row of shops down from the Somerset Arms remained in place
- The Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager was unaware when the ANPR camera would be installed as the Council were not involved in the KCC scheme
- The Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager acknowledged Members concerns over the changes being made to the A289 for the proposed development at Hoo in Medway and raised the possibility of further issues at Higham Station if the proposed rail scheme failed
- The last information the Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager had received regarding the Eurostar at Ebbsfleet was that it would not stop at Ebbsfleet again until at least 2024
- Officers had suggested to KCC a footpath as part of an Active Travel 2 bid to Department of Transport should be made between Instead Rise and Meopham. This had been looked at in the past including a consultation conducted with residents however nothing came to fruition. The issue with KCC was that when they receive the money to create such footpaths, cycleways or bus lanes, they are outsourced the designing of schemes to an external consultant which meant that there was no initial consulting with residents to see what the residents actually needed. The Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager agreed to communicate to KCC that the footpath was needed, and residents should be engaged with prior to any design work being carried out. Members were also advised that for phase three of the active travel talks, KCC Cllr Bryan Sweetland was the best person to contact
- Officers from the Council emailed KCC whenever information was held on certain schemes that would aid KCC in the development of those schemes; for example, consultation responses that the Council received would be given to KCC if they helped develop schemes that KCC were already working on or had plans to visit in the future
- The closure of Athboy Road was to enable equipment and vehicles to be stored while the interchange works were completed. As the works were nearing completion, Athboy Road should soon reopen but the Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager agreed to look into the matter
- The Assistant Director (Planning) had previously raised concerns regarding construction noise at Tilbury and sought agreement on mechanisms to mitigate the levels of noise. Those mechanisms were not supported by Thurrock Council, on appeal the examining authority determined that they would side with Thurrock Councils decision. If Members wanted the issue progressed further then it could be raised with the Port of Tilbury directly as well as raised with the Port of Health Authority
Cllr Meade asked that the Assistant Director (Planning) contact the Port of Tilbury as well as the Port of Health Authority as work noises could be heard on Windmill Hill from 4am onwards, disturbing local residents. Cllr Meade agreed to collate evidence to be submitted to the two authorities.
With regard to the closure of Athboy Road, Cllr Meade suggested that as the equipment was largely stored in the road, the pavement could be reopened to allow residents, especially those with mobility issues, to use the road to get to the train station. The Assistant Director (Planning) agreed to email Annette Bonner, the project lead for the interchange project, regarding the suggestion and further stress the importance of the shortcut for residents.
In response to the issue of taxis not being allowed to drive through the bus gate, the Chair advised that a letter was being sent from the Gravesham Joint Transportation Board requesting that the decision be examined. The Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager agreed to look into how the policy was made at KCC and if Gravesham Council could have any input on the decision.
In response to concern raised by a Member regarding upkeep of public footpaths, Cllr Meade advised that he had encountered similar issues when walking his dog and assured Members that he would keep up the pressure on the relevant KCC Cabinet Member to reopen closed footpaths and give existing ones the maintenance they required, especially along the Saxon Shore Way.
The Chair thanked the Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager for an informative presentation.