Councillor Maney introduced the report by stating many services across the Council, those within the highways, transport and planning departments had been impacted upon by the pandemic which had affected operations as well as income but despite this Councillor Maney was pleased to report they had risen to the challenges of the past 20 months and delivered an ambitious agenda. Some of the points made:
· Was responsible for an extensive highways network, including 545km of carriageway, 700km of footway and cycle paths, 21,000 street lights and numerous structures and items of street furniture. All of which required a rigorous year-round inspection and maintenance effort.
· 4,586 safety inspections had been carried out this year alone, resulting in a high number of repairs. Including 4963 potholes, continued to exceed KPI targets of a 98% repair rate within timeframe.
· Recently completed jet patching operations across the borough had ensured many additional carriageway repairs ahead of winter.
· From last year’s capital programme the Council had resurfaced 41 roads in the borough, equating to over 90,000 square feet of road space.
· The slab replacement programme, footway repairs and reconstructions had taken place at locations across the borough.
· Announced that following on from the completion of the LED programme would over the next two years be spending £350,000 replacing and upgrading older street lighting infrastructure.
· The ITB programme had allowed for £700,000 to be allocated to safety measures, including vital engineering projects such as junction improvements on A128 and the borough’s second Average Speed Camera system in Lodge Lane.
· A £2.4m spend from the Safer Roads Fund would also enable safety measures along the A126 including at the Marshfoot Road junction with A1089.
· Safer Routes to Schools programme - four new safety enhancement schemes had been delivered and would continue to work towards making travel to and from our schools a key priority.
· Supporting the local bus operators via the Covid Bus Service Support Grant and making bus travel more appealing with an extensive shelter replacement programme, which would include the installation of digitalised information screens at some locations.
· The dedicated team of CEOs provided a vital service and were a reassuring uniformed presence in our communities.
· Announced approved plans for doubling of the CEO team. This 100% increase would mean more action against those who flouted the rules and made life difficult for others.
· Following recent approval from Cabinet, be commencing on the seizure of vehicles belonging to persistent offenders, or motorists who parked in contravention of a waiting restriction and caused a danger or obstruction.
· In January 2021 the parking team received time limited Government funding in order to extend HGV enforcement activity and this had enabled the Council to pursue operations up until 2.30am.
· Since January 2021, 3322 PCNs had been issued for HGV parking violations, averaging a little over 300pm and amounting to a combined value of £175,068.
· Looking at ways to address nuisance HGV activity where parking enforcement regulations did not apply. The following enforcement actions - 98 Community Protection Warnings, 47 Community Protection Notices and 98 fixed Penalty Notices for non-compliance with a CPN had been taken against companies.
Councillor Maney extended his thanks to officers within the highways, transport and planning teams and stated how impressed he had been with the calibre of officer under his remit. That for some time officers in the highways and transports teams had been subject to unacceptable conduct by a handful of elected members. No officer of the Council should receive abusive emails, see their name posted on social media, nor be made to feel uncomfortable at work. That the decisions they took were in line with policies and budgets that members set and officers should be treated with respect and decency.
Councillor Kerin referred to the Parking Enforcement Plan and questioned whether this plan would be more joined up when looking at the whole of the borough and to put in place the enforcement needed. Councillor Maney reiterated the CEO team was doubling up which would mean more action against those who flouted the rules. The team responded to intelligence and data and encouraged residents to continue to report.
Councillor Kerin referred to Active Travel Fund of £600K and questioned why the amount received had been far short than the amount promised by Government to which Councillor Maney stated no reasons were given by Government. The submission was looked at and the allocation was given accordingly but this was still a huge amount of money and had been gratefully received.
Councillor Kerin questioned why there had been no mention of the A13 delays and overspend in the highways element of the report and asked the portfolio holder to support a Local Government Association Peer Review into the A13. Councillor Maney stated the delivery of the A13 project would fall within Councillor Coxshall portfolio holder remit but stated there was no need for a Peer Review as when completed it would be a major benefit to the residents of this borough. That no more delays or reviews were in order just to get the project finished.
Councillor Anderson referred to approved Street Lighting Network and asked the portfolio holder that the Council would not be adopting a policy of part night lighting as seen in other authorities to which Councillor Maney assured members that Thurrock would not be following the example of other boroughs and street lighting would continue in the borough.
Councillor J Kent referred to the Safer Travel to Schools and a motion raised by Councillor Worrall at the June 2021 Council calling on Cabinet to recognise the huge problems residents of Ward Avenue and surrounding areas were experiencing being caused by parents, and others, dropping off and picking up children attending the three schools in this area. Councillor J Kent stated this situation continued and had worsened and asked Councillor Maney to reconsider, look again and re-evaluate these problems. Councillor Maney stated he would be happy to look or relook at any problem to see what could be done to resolve that but reiterated the CEO team would be doubling in size and would make operations outside schools much easier. Councillor Maney reminded members that schools were responsible for managing traffic and were reliant on schools producing school travel plans. Where schools did this, the Council would work with them and where there were solutions he would ask these to be brought forward.
Councillor Byrne stated that he stood by every email he had sent to officers and that respect amongst members and officers had to go both ways.
Councillor Massey referred to HGV nuisance parking and questioned whether the doubling of the CEO team would include the HGV evening parking team to which Councillor Maney stated very much so with the night time operations continuing when the Government funding run out.
Councillor Muldowney referred to over 80 pot holes filled in Sabina Road and Holyrood Gardens in Chadwell St Mary and the request the roads be resurfaced. That some of the pot holes had been jet patched but had understood from residents this type of repair had not lasted very long and could not be very cost effective and asked the portfolio holder to commit to a long term solution to resurface these roads and other effected roads in Chadwell. Councillor Maney stated Chadwell were getting a lot of attention in regards to roadways, pathways and cycle path repairs following the election of Councillor Carter. That Chadwell St Mary would be judged in accordance with the same policies of any other area and most roads in the borough would be inspected on an annual basis and where intervention was required this would be actioned.
Councillor Abbas referred to the recent repairs to Stone Hill Lane and questioned why a small section had been left unrepaired to which Councillor Maney stated the repair work had to stop somewhere and where the repairs had stopped the road thereafter would have been in a serviceable condition. Councillor Maney stated if Councillor Abbas still had concerns to bring this to the attention of officers.