Roger Gough

Friday, 1 June 2018

Transport 'big conversation' getting under way

The County Council's planned engagement and debate with residents - especially in rural areas - on transport issues, dubbed the 'Big Conversation', is getting under way. The aim is to engage the public, groups such as Parish Councils, and potential providers of services such as community transport, in a detailed examination of the best way in which we can provide access to transport in rural and more isolated areas.

The engagement programme will include parish seminars and 11 District-based public meetings, which will be held between 7 and 9 in the evening. The Sevenoaks meeting will be in the Stag Theatre on Wednesday 4 July. This should be an opportunity to help shape policies that will be important to many of the communities of the Darent Valley and surrounding area.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Eynsford Road floods again

Amid today's heavy downpours, I was called by residents in Eysnford Road, Farningham, about flooding in the road that was affecting their properties.

I have written about this problem before, and have been taking it up with Kent Highays officers since last summer. Cleansing and other works have been carried out, and it did seem as though some real progress had been made. But today the problems recurred.

In fact, the earlier works may have had some effect. The picture at the top of this post was taken at the time when the flooding was at its strongest; the picture at the bottom was taken a couple of hours later, at the time when I was able to get there and meet residents. The water had run away more rapidly than would have been the case in the past; not, however, before the waters had reached unacceptably high levels. Clearly more substantial works are required, and I will once more take the issue up with Kent Highways.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Renewing the Speed Indicator Device in Childsbridge Lane

One of the first issues that Kemsing Parish Council took up with me after my election last year was the need to replace a Speed Indicator Device (SID) in Childsbridge Lane. A SID was installed some years ago, but eventually became faulty. It was removed and Kent Highways were not willing to replace it.

Following discussion with the Parish Council, it became clear to me that there was still a strong desire in the village to have the SID at this point, so I undertook to pay for it - if it could be installed - from my Combined Member Fund. Even so, it was not quite as simple as that; Kent Highways were not prepared to approve a SID, even one paid for from my Fund, if it could not be justified. In particular, traffic counts and speed checks were needed to see if enough vehicles were travelling at 35 miles per hour or faster to trigger the Device a reasonable number of times.

The traffic count - also paid for from my Fund - took place in early March. Because of the snow (which clearly would distort any speed readings), measurements had to be taken over fewer days than would usually be the case. Nonetheless, the end result was that there were enough speeding vehicles to support the introduction of a new SID, and I was able to tell Kemsing's Annual Parish Meeting that we should now be able to go ahead.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

More money for pothole campaign in the new financial year

As I reported last month, KCC committed £5.2 million to its Find and Fix campaign in 2017-18; nonetheless, January 2018 saw some 4,000 pothole notifications, the highest January level for four years.

And that was before the Beast from the East, and the second, shorter-lived bout of snow in mid-March. Mike Whiting, Cabinet Member for Highways, indicated that the costs to the road network of the severe weather could come to some £4 million. However, the County Council has been able to announce an extra £2 million in funding, bringing the total budget for potholes and drainage for this year to £8.1 million.

So far. The Find and Fix campaign gets under way in April, and the Council Leader, Paul Carter has added that, "Towards the middle of June we will then reflect on how the work is going, and I can assure you that, if more work is needed, we will find the additional budget required to fix the potholes."

Monday, 19 March 2018

Audrey Gee

It was with great sadness that I learned of the death on Thursday morning of Audrey Gee.

Audrey was a central figure in Eynsford for many years, as both Chair of the Village Society and as its long-serving Liberal Democrat District Councillor. She was coming to the end of her term as District Councillor when I was elected to the County Council in 2005 (she retired in 2007) but was wonderfully welcoming, devoted to Eynsford and the wider Darent Valley and happy to work with anyone who was committed to those communities. (She was also a great champion of local heroes such as the aviator Percy Pilcher).

Audrey gave an enormous amount to Eysford over decades; I remember her fondly and am glad to have known her.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Buses and the 'Big Conversation'

Earlier in the year, I reported that KCC was reducing its planned savings from subsidsied bus services from £2 million to £455,000. This would be followed by a 'big conversation' with parish councils and other key community groups regarding the best way to deliver transport services that can tackle rural isolation.

The County Council has now confirmed that, following discussions with the bus companies (in particular, Stagecoach and Go Coach) it will propose some small changes that will convert subsidised to commercial routes, delivering the necessary savings without affecting access to services or routes to school. In the case of Go Coach, this will involve moving the 404 (Edenbridge to Sevenoaks) service from being a home to school to a commercial service, still nonetheless providing school students with a route to school.

It is anticipated that the 'big conversation' will follow in April and May, with the expectation that in June there will be a Rural Bus Summit, on the successful model of Kent Rail Summits.

KCC's Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee will debate these proposals next Tuesday, 20 March.  

Sunday, 18 February 2018

A new Church Room for All Souls Crockenhill

Yesterday I was delighted to attend the opening of the new Church Room - actually, a stand alone small building - serving All Souls Church in Crockenhill. The Room was opened, after s short service of dedication, by the Venerable James Logstaff, Bishop of Rochester.

The project has been long in its development and - like many a building project - has brought a fair amount of anxiety and heartache along the way. That it has been delivered is a big tribute to the church and wider community of Crockenhill. The Room will serve both for church functions, including hopefully Sunday School, and the Crockenhill community as a whole - as a result of the latter, I was able to give some support (£2,000 from my Combined Member Fund, which contributed towards the floor). The building (and the floor) look wonderful and hopefully will be a valued resource for years to come.