Hollingbourne Parish Council has received the September 2019 from our local Maidstone Borough Councillor, Patrik Garten. Please Read More for further information.
Welcome to my September newsletter. August is usually the month when there is very little news, at council level, as well as nationally. Just wait for September, or even October! I am sure we’ll be once more engulfed with Brexit news. More about this later, but also at local level we have a few interesting weeks ahead.
Let me however start off with some statistics:
•Maidstone has currently a population of 169,955, living in 73,138 properties
•The Street Cleansing department is responsible for 621 miles of road
•Maidstone mechanically sweep 3,850 miles every year, meaning that on average each road gets swept 6.2 times. Naturally the town-centre benefits from more care than our rural roads.
•There are 410 litter bins and MBC undertake 31,270 empties every year (This doesn’t include the town centre)
•Last year MBC removed 1,813 Fly tips
Years ago, DEFRA created a National Indicator (NI195) for levels of litter, detritus, graffiti and fly posting. According to NI195, North Downs is the Borough’s joint cleanest ward for litter (0%) but only joint 10th place (out of 24 wards) for detritus 5%.
I regularly travel our Ward and witness plenty of fast food packaging along my ways. However, I will leave these statistics for you to dwell over in anticipation of your own thoughts. (My contact details below.)
Sorry for droning on about Maidstone’s Local Plan Review. The Local Plan is the authority’s main instrument to shape the Borough for the decades to come. Please take some time and respond to the current consultation. Supporting documents can be viewed and downloaded from the council’s website www.maidstone.gov.uk/localplanreview
I received some feedback at a recent parish council meeting. The main criticism is that this consultation is too intricate and technical, which will exclude many people by virtue of that complexity.
I cannot disagree, as the Local Plan is to Maidstone as what Brexit is to International Relations. Both are very technical issues, far from being simple black & white subjects. Many greys indeed !
This 8 page summary document may help:
If you feel overwhelmed by the catalogue of technical questions, please say so on your response form. Nobody can expect you to be a qualified town-planning expert. We councillors (across all parties) are keen to engage the public and we are very keen to learn from the last Local Plan, which turned out to be a disaster. (It was before my time as your Councillor – I hasten to add).
I intend to ask the question at committee in October, how well this consultation was received by the public. In particular I will be looking for any evidence of the questions being unsuitably complicated or the consultation not being accessible under disability legislation. So please don’t resign yourself to complexity and throw the paper in the bin. Indeed, put down all comments which come to your mind, even if it is that you don’t understand the question(s). There are no bad answers ! If you find the consultation too complex we need to know! And please don’t forget, the deadline will be Monday 30 September at 17:00 hours – UK time !
Yes you guessed it: Brexit (31 October at 23:00 hours UK time) will feature once more in my newsletter:
Planning at a local level is being stepped up. The basic framework is provided by the statutory arrangements, as set out in the Civil Contingencies Act.
M20 – In order to keep traffic moving on the M20, and to avoid having to activate Operation Stack, Operation Brock was developed in the months leading up to the original planned Brexit date of 31 March. This involved construction of a barrier on the M20 between junctions 9 and 11, which would allow four lanes of moving traffic to use the existing London-bound carriageway, two in each direction, leaving the coast-bound carriageway free for queues of freight vehicles.
Operation Brock was activated in March, then de-activated, leaving two lanes of the London-bound carriageway vacant. These lanes can be brought into use again for coast-bound traffic under the Operation Brock arrangements given 18-24 hours notice. If a spontaneous incident takes place, the authorities would have to revert to Operation Stack.
The government continues to hold Manston in reserve and the M26 and will activate this as part of Operation Brock too.
The international Common Transit Convention (CTC), of which the UK is a member, independent of our EU membership, allows for goods to cross borders without completing import and export declarations. The CTC system requires transit movements to be initiated at an ‘Office of Departure’. HMRC is in the process of establishing six CTC offices – five in Kent (* see below), one in Essex – that may be used by freight traffic, and is working with the local authorities concerned.
More generally, the government perceives a need to provide advice to importers and exporters and plans a network of information points not just in Kent but throughout the country.
Maidstone Borough Council continuity planning
We have a group of key officers, chaired by our chief executive, which meet regularly to co-ordinate arrangements. MBC are now reviewing our plans again and carry out checks to ensure that they are ready to be implemented.
MBC envisage that staff who are not in customer-facing roles may work from home if traffic becomes unreasonably congested around the town. We had a successful test in spring and will have another trial run in September.
Councillors have an important role, particularly in communicating with the public. I will send out regular updates if & when needed via my list of personal subscribers of my newsletter. Please tell your friends & neighbours how to subscribe to my newsletter. If you usually read my letter on a website or magazine you can ping me an email to be included on my direct distribution list, so that you will receive important updates if & when they occur.
Finally, would you like to learn to Mediate? Maidstone Mediation are running a free training course in September. You can learn new skills to use in the community and help resolve conflicts. Call or visit to find out more: Maidstone Community Support Centre, 01622 692843 or check their website www.maidstonemediation.co.uk
….and there was me, 1033 words ago, starting this month’s edition with the line “August is usually the month when there is very little news ……”
PATRIK GARTEN (Cons)
MBC Councillor for North Downs Ward
- Update on 6th September – One is at the Ashford Truck Stop and another is at Ebbsfleet. The location of the others is unknown and KCC are reported to have complained to the Government about the effect on local traffic.
Pictured below is Councillor Garten.