Current local service update from Maidstone Borough Council – winter weather issues.

The message from Ms Alison Broom, CEO of Maidstone Borough Council, was circulated at 2.57pm this afternoon to all local Borough Councillors. Councillor Patrik Garten who represents Hollingbourne passed the message on to Hollingbourne Parish Council and it is reproduced below.

Many Hollingbourne residents have had difficult driving experiences today with insufficient gritting on local roads and traffic problems on the A20 and M20. Residents in side roads including Tilefields, Hasteds, and the unadopted Godfrey6 Meadow have been seen clearing the snow from their roads today.

Subject: Service update and the weather

Hello

Here is a short update – we have held a conference call across the county and Medway this afternoon and the position is as follows.

The public sector is working together to keep as many services running as normally as possible, support the most vulnerable of our residents and keep the county moving.

Information is being circulated including via the traditional broadcast media and via social media on #kentsnow

The Maidstone, Medway and Tunbridge Wells areas have experienced the greatest impact from today’s snow – and the weather system that brought it has now moved further west. Although we may see some further showers later today and/or overnight with up to a further 2-5 centimetres, the forecast is for some improvement in the immediate short term.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is forecast as snow showers on a moderate scale.

All eyes then turn to Thursday and Friday when the forecast is for a new frontal system to move across Kent and therefore for widespread snow and potentially freezing rain – on a scale that is likely to cause high impact – with the impact continuing into Saturday.

In terms of impact in Maidstone

The volume of snow has had a significant impact on the road and rail networks with particular problems on Detling Hill, Blue Bell Hill and parts of the M2, M20 and M26 and the SE rail network – in a pattern that reflects local geography that we are all familiar with. Highways England and KCC are gritting and clearing snow – and there is a possibility that as the strategic network is returned to normal that KCC can turn attention to some of the secondary routes later today or tomorrow. Plans are in hand in case people get stranded in their vehicles – but it has not yet been necessary to activate these.

NHS and social care services are working normally. The NHS/Clinical Commissioning Group have some serious issues with their main office building in Tonbridge which means that they have had to close it (possibly for a
fortnight) – I have offered them some additional accommodation in Maidstone House for this week and next (we already lease some space to the CCG on the 6th floor).

We suspended the waste and recycling collection service this morning and have developed a recovery plan – that we can flex depending on how the weather pans out over the next few days. For the time being we will prioritise refuse collection and where necessary collect both week’s refuse next week when conditions allow. Recycling collections will be missed for this week and potentially next week but we will collect additional recycling beside the bin on the following collection. Obviously if we can get the trucks out this week we will and this will hopefully reduce the impact next week. We will keep everyone posted as the plans evolve with the changing situation. If your constituents ask for advice – please ask them to leave bins out for collection where possible and remove any snow from the lid which could stop the bin emptying properly. We will endeavour to carry out collections as soon as possible.

We suspended cleansing and grounds maintenance services this morning – and have redeployed staff to assist KCC with footway gritting – as is usual practice in these weather conditions.

Maidstone Leisure Centre opened this morning but closed from 11am. This is because of difficulties with staff reaching the leisure centre. The centre staff contacted any regular user groups and will be updating their website and through social media. The Cobtree Manor Park and Mote Park Cafés were open this morning but closed at lunch time

The Crematorium and Cemetery are open as usual. We have shut main reception but staff are on the phones and emails. Services are going ahead. We have cleared the car parks and driveways to ensure public safety

Housing Advice is operating on a reduced service. We will need to close the Triage service in the Link early though to enable officers to get home, but we have officers available home working who will be able to manage any homeless approaches we receive. Our staff are working flexibly with partners who provide overnight accommodation for rough sleepers when we activate our severe weather plan – so that adequate support is provided.

MBC services are running as normal in the Link – we have good staffing levels for both face to face and telephone services. JCP is also open and working normally. Citizens Advice Bureau have had to cancel all their appointments in the Link today as their advisors can’t get in. They will try and contact anyone that has got an appointment though so they don’t have a wasted journey

I hope this is of help – please let me know if any MBC issues are being raised with you and you need any help in resolving them.

Best regards

Alison Broom