This is the latest update on the SGN gas works in New Hythe Lane. I have spoken with KCC and SGN officers. KCC is still awaiting a reply from KPMG on whether they will allow Bellingham Way, which they own, to be re-opened temporarily during the works. Even if they do so, it will be at drivers' own risk so all drivers will need to check whether their car insurance will cover them if they use this private road.
Cllr Trudy Dean will update Bulletin readers as new information becomes available. If you would like to sign up to Trudy's email bulletin send an email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
County Councillor for West Malling, East Malling & Larkfield
SGN is on track to complete phase one of their work and reopen the section of New Hythe Lane between the A20 and Morrisons’ car park by Monday 14 August.
They are aware that some drivers are not adhering to the signed diversion via Leybourne Way and the A228. Instead, drivers are instead using Bell Lane as a shortcut through to the leisure centre, Tesco and the M20. Not only is this causing traffic jams along Bell Lane, but there are safety concerns as some vehicles are mounting the pavement. Along with SGN, I would urge drivers to keep to the signed diversion to ensure the safety of yourselves, fellow motorists and pedestrians.
SGN is in discussion with Kent County Council to see whether it’s possible to merge the second and third phases to further prevent Bell Lane being used as a cut through. This would mean that from Monday 14 August, New Hythe Lane would be closed between Morrison’s car park and Laburnum Drive. This also means that there would be no access to New Hythe Lane from Laburnum Drive from that point, two weeks’ earlier than planned.
SGN hope to receive confirmation from KCC regarding the change in phasing within the next few days. They will then update their website (sgn.co.uk) and share this information with me. In the meantime, SGN will look to improve signage in Bell Lane, New Hythe Lane and Lunsford Lane.
SGN has assured me that they’re committed to completing their upgrade of the gas network as quickly and safely as possible. In support of that, I have urged KCC to grant permission for the merging of phase 2 and 3 on safety grounds. I have also contacted Amazon to ask them to instruct their drivers to avoid hold ups by using A228 not New Hythe Lane, Lunsford Lane or Bell Lane for the next four weeks.
TMACTIV have donated their office defibrillator to the Paydens Pharmacy in Martin Square so that it is available to the public more of the time. Thanks, guys!
The Borough Council is warning householders to make sure any rubbish leaving their homes via contractors’ vehicles is going to an approved disposal site. Fly tipped waste, sometimes closing entire roads, is costing Councils a lot of money to clear. So they are now checking the waste carefully to see if the owner can be traced and charged.
If it’s your rubbish, you should get your contractor to tell you in writing where it’s going or you could end up paying a very big bill.
Aylesford Parish Council and David Thornewell are supporting the reinstatement of the footpath between Forstal Road, Ditton and the River Medway. An application for housing has been submitted there which includes the site where the footpath previously ran
The former Royal Mail offices next to Maidstone East railway station have opened as a new 250 space car park between 5am and midnight, charging from £1.10 for one hour to £6 for more than four hours. Charges can be paid by card. Spaces will be available for public use.
Enforcement of parking charges at Manor Park West Malling will be by Automatic Number Plate recognition from Monday 3rd July and Penalty Charges will be made. Parking Charges remain the same at £1.30 Monday to Friday, £2 at weekend and Bank Holidays and £50 for an annual Season ticket.
The Borough Council’s rubbish collection contract runs out in February 2019. This month, TMBC councillors were told the new system should include plastic collection but an optional garden waste collection will have to be paid for.
The Shape of the New Service
Weekly collection of food waste in a new lockable kitchen caddy. Fortnightly collections from existing green bins and boxes, of plastics, metal, cartons, glass, paper, card (no longer mixed with green waste) and cans.
Fortnightly collection of all other waste in the grey bin.
A new ‘opt in’ garden waste collection in a new ‘Green Bin‘. Residents choosing to get this service will have to pay between £30 and £40 per household per year for it.
Trudy attended the meeting and said “ I think residents will be pleased with a weekly food collection, and very pleased that at long last plastics will be collected from the doorstep. However, many people will struggle with 5 recycling containers, and many people will not want or be able to pay an extra charge for green waste.”
Wherever charging has been introduced for green waste, the amount of green waste collected has fallen to around half the previous level, which is a very backward step. Tonbridge and Malling is the only Borough in Kent without its own Waste Collection tip, so residents would be forced to travel to Tovil or Cuxton to dispose of it properly. It’s more likely to end up fly tipped or in the grey bin, the contents of which are incinerated, not composted.
Cllr Trudy Dean has asked TMBC to ensure a full consultation with residents is carried out before decisions are made.
Norman Road, West Malling closure for up to 29 working days from 24th July from Offham Road junction to outside number 24 to allow connections to the water main by South East Water.
(This is a long closure due to the depth of the excavation and underground services in this stretch of road, and the need to ensure purity of drinking water).
On Thursday July 13th, County Councillors met to consider a report by their Independent Remuneration Panel on the level of the payments made to them as councillors. The IRP recommended a small rise of 1.5% They pointed out that KCC pay levels were already high, and officers had found only 2 councils in the entire country paying more than KCC. They said that KCC staff and other workers in hospitals, police and so on, were being limited to low pay rises. They also said the majority of 30 councillors they interviewed said the pay was ‘about right’.
However, Conservative Councillors proposed out of the blue that their pay rise should instead be 15%. The rise applies not just to the basic allowance of £13,000 that all councillors receive, but also to the Special Responsibility Allowances between £9 to £42K which Committee Chairman, Cabinet Members and others receive. The IRP recommended that should not change at all.
The total cost of the increase is £245,000.
Trudy writes “ I’ve rarely been more angry. The Lib Dems have consistently said that pay for councillors should be set BEFORE the county elections so voters knew what they were voting for. Yet here we were barely two months after the KCC elections, being asked to agree a whacking 15% rise.
Conservative members said they needed to attract younger people to become councillors. True, but you don’t need to do that till the next elections in four years time. In the meantime, it goes into the pay packets of existing councillors. They said they worked hard. Possibly, but so do nurses, police, social workers and others whose pay rises have been far less. They said that the rise was fair compared to lots of other people. Possibly, but the Independent Panel knew all about them, and still said a modest rise was enough
Some extraordinary things were said in the debate. I recommend watching the webcast on the KCC website and that’s not something I do very often!
Only one Conservative Councillor voted against the proposal, saying he didn’t think people outside County Hall would understand such a high rise. Too true! The Lib Dem proposal to accept the IRP recommendation was voted down by all Conservative and Labour councillors.
I have been asked if I intend taking the raised level of my own pay. It’s a fair question. Like other councillors, I use allowances to pay for leaflets and other ways of keeping residents in touch, and in supporting local volunteer groups. So if I do not take the rise, I am disadvantaging my residents compared to others, which I do not want to do. So I shall take the rise, and report back, through Headline, to you on what I do with it. I hope that’s fair.
Watch Cllr Trudy Dean saying no to the Conservative pay rise.
There has been a sharp fall in nurses from EU countries registering to work in the NHS, new figures have revealed.
The Health Service Journal reports that monthly statistics show the number of EU nurses registering with the NMC to work in the UK peaked at 1,304 in July 2016, a month after the referendum, before falling to 344 in September 2016 and then to just 46 in April 2017.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb said: “These figures are profoundly worrying and the possible implications for the NHS and patients cannot be underestimated. The government has to face up to the impact their refusal to guarantee EU citizens to remain in the UK after Brexit is having. It is a political choice they have made and it is going to harm our services, in particular the NHS.
“The government must now change this decision. The result of the election last week gives them the opportunity to change their mind, and they now must. Liberal Democrats are clear that EU citizens whose lives are now rooted in the UK must have the right to stay”.