Previous reports from Cllr Lymer:
Kent County Councillor Geoff Lymer – Newsletter May 2017
Lower Thames Crossing
Kent County Council has been campaigning for a new Lower Thames Crossing to be built for more than 15 years to relieve the congestion and overloading at the existing Dartford Crossing, which with peak flows often exceeding 162,000 movements per day has long exceeded its design capacity of 135,000 vehicles a day.
The Dartford Crossing is closed over 300 times per year for an average of 30 minutes, but it typically takes three to five hours for the roads to return to normal following a closure.
A new crossing will provide much needed network resilience and create a new strategic route from Dover to the Midlands and the North, essential for this international gateway with an average of 10,800 HGV movements per day through the Channel ports, which is growing year on year and is forecast to continue to grow by 5% per year. A new crossing will deliver economic prosperity for Kent, the South East and the wider UK, supporting an estimated 6,000 new jobs and add 12.7 billion to the local economy.
KCC strongly reiterates the necessity for Highways England to deliver the upgrades to the connections between the M20 and M2 – including the A229 and A249 – and the wider network improvements desperately needed along the A2/M2 to support the splitting of traffic between the M2/A2 and M20/A20 corridors.
KCC is pleased that the Government has selected the Western Southern Link, which was KCC’s own preferred route on the Kent side of the crossing, as this will minimise the environmental impacts and avoids the village of Shorne. The chosen route has greater opportunities for tunnelling or using cuttings for part of the route to reduce the noise and visual impact.
KCC will provide input to the plans as they are developed to ensure that any negative impacts are mitigated and so that Kent’s residents get the best deal from this significant investment in the infrastructure.
What must happen now is for Government to give reassurance to those affected by the new road and so KCC will continue to insist that a generous compensation package is provided for property owners affected.
KCC fully appreciates the distress that this proposal has caused to the local community but due to the transport and economic benefits that a new Lower Thames Crossing will provide, we believe this is the right decision for the county, and indeed the country.
In a report produced by the Department for Transport dated 9July 2003, one of the several schemes then recommended by the study as possibly being justified in the longer term, subject to resolving potential environmental impacts, is the improved Dover access via A2 capacity improvements between Lydden and Dover, effectively dualling the last seven miles.
The Secretary of State is not asking the Highways Agency to prioritise work on the route at this stage. KCC is trying to get the Department for Transport to review dualling of the last stretch of the A2 to Dover.
I have heard “there are A2 extension plans going ahead.” This is incorrect. “There are no A2 extension plans are going ahead” currently.
Kent County Councillor
Dover West Ward
Kent County Councillor Geoff Lymer – Newsletter February 2017
Kent County Council is looking into the feasibility of a number of small lorry parks across the county to help alleviate illegal lorry parking. The new parks would be run as a private and public partnership. KCC will work closely with the private sector to identify what funding options exist to deliver the sites.
Leader of Kent County Council Paul Carter said “We are taking action to find a solution to the widespread problem of illegal lorry parking in Kent. These illegally parked lorries are a blight on the county, anti-social and dangerous. I believe a series of intelligently placed small lorry parks would alleviate this problem and, if we put these plans in place and drivers have somewhere safe and secure to park overnight, I am confident the police will support the plans by imposing tough enforcements on lorries parking in unauthorised places.”
It comes as KCC launches a consultation into overnight lorry parking, preventing lorries going along rural roads and minimising their impact on local communities. The Freight Action Plan sets out five ongoing actions for managing freight through
The five priorities are:
To tackle the problem of overnight lorry parking in Kent
To find a long term solution to Operation Stack
To effectively manage the routing of HGV traffic to ensure it stays on the strategic road network for as much of its journey as possible
To take steps to address the problems caused by freight traffic to communities
To ensure that KCC continues to make effective use of planning and development control powers to reduce the impact of freight traffic
KCC has already successfully delivered a number of initiatives to mitigate the impact of freight traffic through the county. This includes lobbying government to achieve £250 million of funding for a permanent lorry holding area as a solution to Operation Stack
The demand for overnight parking is growing as the volume of cross-Channel freight increases.
Visit kent.gov.uk/freightactionplan to download a draft copy of the Freight Action Plan and fill in the online questionnaire.
If you require this document in any other format or language, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 03000 421553 (text relay service number: 18001 03000 421553).This number goes to an answer machine which is monitored during office hours.
Consultation responses will be used to help produce the final version of the Freight Action Plan.
The consultation closes on March 12.
Kent County Councillor
Dover West Ward
Kent County Councillor Geoff Lymer – Newsletter July 2016
Cycle season comes to Kent
Cycle season is here and if you’re keen to get out on your bike a bit more this summer, there are plenty of opportunities for you to get involved in Kent.
In partnership with British Cycling and Sky, Kent County Council has scheduled an exciting series of guided bike rides for 2016. As part of a campaign to get more people cycling for fun and fitness, Sky Ride Local rides are guided by British Cycling trained Ride Leaders and cover a range of fantastic routes, giving you the opportunity to see your area by bike like never before. What’s more, the rides are pitched at three different levels, so there’s something for everyone.
David Bourque, British Cycling’s Director of Recreation and Partnerships, said: “There’s no better way to get outdoors, get some exercise and explore your local area with friends than on a bike ride. Join the fun and register for a bike ride taking place in Kent this summer. Whether you’re building your confidence or looking to challenge yourself, there’s a ride for you in Kent.’
Tim Read, Head of Transportation at Kent County Council, said: “Cycling’s never been more popular, and whatever your age or fitness level, it’s easy to get involved. These rides are guided and free. Whether you’re a family, regular rider, enthusiast, or someone whose bike is gathering dust in a shed, these are a great way to discover Kent’s fantastic countryside. I urge everyone to get on board and get out this summer.”
Even more cycling opportunities are available in Kent this year with Breeze and Ride Social.
Breeze is the biggest national programme designed to inspire and support more women to ride their bikes. Breeze is led by women, for women. The programme is supported by a network of trained volunteers called Breeze champions who organise local guided rides on a weekly basis.
Meanwhile, discover more with Ride Social, Britain’s biggest social cycling community. Cycling is more fun when you do it with others and Ride Social allows cyclists to meet up, form groups and start riding together.
To register for a free guided bike ride and find out more about getting into cycling, visit: goskyride.com/kent.
Kent County Councillor – Dover West Ward
Kent County Councillor Geoff Lymer – Newsletter June 2016
Research shows one in three drivers in Kent use their mobile whilst driving
Research by Kent County Council has found 65% of people fear the biggest risk to them on the roads is drivers using mobile phones whilst at the wheel.
The research, by KCC’s Road Safety Team, shows that motorists estimate 39% of drivers use a hand-held mobile phone, 34% use a phone to text/use apps/check email/use internet and 49% use a hands-free mobile device whilst driving.
Over the past month, Kent County Council is launching an awareness campaign to remind drivers of the dangers of using mobile phones whilst driving.
It aims to remind drivers that mobile phones cause a huge distraction whilst driving and that it is a myth to think that it is possible to concentrate fully on two things at once.
The reality is that no two activities can be given equal attention – one task will always be more dominant. With a task as important as driving, even just a slip in concentration due to a mobile phone could lead to severe consequences.
Vicky Watkins, Road Safety Team Leader at KCC, said, “Using a mobile phone whilst driving impairs reaction time, reduces concentration levels, leads to poorer judgment of speed and distance and reduces your field of vision.”
Drivers using mobile phones make the roads less safe for us all. “It’s a fallacy to believe we can concentrate on two things at once. The reality is one activity will dominate the other.”
“It’s not simply splitting your attention 50:50, it’s more like 95:5 with the task seeming the most important taking over – with drivers using a phone that means the call or text completely takes over from the driving.”
A video will highlight key every day moments where it would be perceived as ludicrous to answer a mobile phone and in doing so, emphasise that driving is another one of these moments.
The campaign will be running throughout the month and will be on television and on demand services, Heart radio bus rears, bus stop posters and social media.
Inspector Martin Stevens from Kent Police said, “Though the majority of people know it is wrong to phone or text at the wheel, some feel that using apps is acceptable.”
“Doing this is just as distracting as calling or texting someone and just as likely to cause a collision. Furthermore should a motorist cause a collision or be caught on their phone, we can forensically examine it and find out exactly what the user was doing with their handset.”
“Using a phone at the wheel is just as socially unacceptable as drink driving and both offences cost lives. Life lost on the road is a life wasted and a family devastated.”
So next the time you are behind the wheel and get a mention, a favourite, a like or a direct message, ask yourself if you are literally dying to read it?
Drivers are also being told not to be fooled into thinking hands-free calls are not illegal or ‘safe’. Hands-free phone conversations impair drivers to a similar degree as hand-held calls.
KCC’s research gives strong backing to the continuing need to raise drivers’ awareness of the increased risk they place themselves in when using a mobile phone at the wheel and to remind them that Kent Police are actively looking for them.
Matthew Balfour, Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, added: “We want to help road users to make Kent’s roads safer and to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured in the county.”
“With this campaign the message is clear, make the right call – don’t use your phone and drive.”
“We’ve found that a large number of drivers say they know using a mobile at the wheel is dangerous and unacceptable, yet many continue to do so. This campaign brings together the education message with an increased likelihood of being caught – key motivators to changing this behaviour.”
Kent County Councillor Geoff Lymer – Newsletter May 2016
Kent calls for rethink on pharmacy plans
Kent County Council is calling for the Department of Health to reconsider its plans to change funding of community pharmacies, over fears it could lead to dozens of rural and suburban sites closing.
KCC Cabinet Member for Public Health and Adult Social Care, Graham Gibbens, is writing on behalf of the Council, to express concerns about a current consultation which proposes a six per cent cut.
Council members say it would have a considerable impact on access to pharmaceutical services, in particular those that serve rural villages and to specific members of the population, such as the vulnerable and elderly.
It’s believed over a quarter of Kent’s 280 pharmacies could be affected adversely by the proposal, leading to reductions in services and even closures. Though I have it on good word, that there will be no pharmacy closures in the Dover West area, though I will monitor the situation.
Graham Gibbens said: “We have numerous suburban communities in Kent served by small pharmacies which could be at risk, as they are dependent on NHS income to remain viable. The pharmacies provide valuable services in these rural areas, often acting as a community hub to the village and preventing social isolation; we are concerned this will be lost.
“We are disappointed by the consultation and its proposals which come at a time when we should be using our pharmacies even more to reduce the burden on GPs and A&Es. We are standing up for rural and isolated residents, along with local pharmacies who are an important community link and business provider therefore we are calling for the plans to be reconsidered.”
The Health and Social Care Act 2012 transferred responsibility for the Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment (PNA) from the Primary Care Trusts to the Health and Wellbeing Boards on the 1st April 2013.
The Kent Health and Wellbeing Board undertook a thorough review of all the pharmaceutical services in Kent and published its PNA in 2014. It found that although overall pharmaceutical service provision in Kent was good, it was felt that the current provision of “standard 40 hour” pharmacies should be maintained especially in rural villages and that the current provision of “100 hour” pharmacies should also be retained.
The Department of Health consultation is also considering a Pharmacy Access scheme and Kent County Council has asked to be involved in this. It is appealing for consultation with all relevant stakeholders, such as the Health & Wellbeing Boards, before any changes are made.