Anyone hoping for some progress on dealing with Maidstone's perennial and interminable traffic problems would have been sorely disappointed by the last meeting of the Joint Transport Board for Maidstone. Despite the many problems in Maidstone this Board seldom meets, allegedly because of a lack of business to discuss, so there had been some hope that when this meeting was finally arranged some serious discussion on local transport issues would ensue. This did not happen.
For some reason only one County Council Officer attended thereby preventing any meaningful discussion. The meeting started with numerous questions from the public regarding the contreversial closure of Cranborne Avenue. As there were no Highway Officers present no definitive answers could be given. The next item for discussion was the Integrated Transport Package for Maidstone. There was no discernible progress noted on any of the parts of the Package and in the absence of any Highway Officers no questions could be asked. Understandably the Board declined to note the report and resolved to ask the County Council to arrange a full presentation on the Integrated Transport Package so that a full and frank discussion could take place.
The next discussion on proposals to improve bus services was a little more productive, but the Board criticised the unimaginative quality of the proposals and resolved to seek a report on establishing a new forum to work with local bus companies to improve services to be presented to the Autumn meeting of the Board.
Finally, there was outrage amongst members at the inaccuracy and the dismissive tone of a memo from the Cabinet Member at KCC basically saying that the County Highways Department would not engage with or support Local Planning authorities during the Planning process. The Board resolved to write to the Leader and Cabinet Member pointing out the many inaccuracies in the memo in relation to its interpretation of National Planning Policy and Government Guidance.
Liberal Democrat Group Leader Clive English said: "The Joint Transport Board should be the Forum where the Borough County and Parishes discuss our transport problems and find solutions. Instead KCC have reduced the scope of what can be discussed, preventing the public and Councillors from raising anything other than so called strategic issues. When meetings are held the Agendas are thin with few supporting papers and officers often do not attend from the County to allow discussion to take place .It is clear the system is not working and requires root and branch reform."