Decision on scrapping Tunbridge Wells traffic ban and waiving fines to be made
A petition calling for the scrapping of the controversial town centre traffic ban in Tunbridge Wells and the waiving of fines issued so far is set to be made. At a meeting tonight of borough and council chiefs, the petition of Dudley Road resident Sally Atkinson will be debated.
The petition, which generated 1,085 signatures, demands the traffic restrictions and enforcement on Mount Pleasant be scrapped with "immediate effect". But Kent County Council officers recommend in the report to be discussed tonight, that the scheme is kept but changes are made to raise "further awareness" of the restrictions.
The gateway was the second phase of changes in and around the main route through the town centre by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council aimed at making it more pleasant and safer for people on foot or on bicycle. The restrictions only allow buses and taxis, and emergency vehicles, daily through the main drag of the town, between 9am and 6pm.
The scheme, which runs in Mount Pleasant Road in front of the War Memorial also impacts joining roads. It has angered many drivers and some residents who live in the area.
People's complaints include that the signs are confusing, which increases the risk of fines, and that people have to drive greater distances to get to places within the affected area.
The signs have also been slated for not being visible to drivers in some places. The petition calls for the council to: "remove signage associated with the scheme and allow all traffic to flow freely along Mount Pleasant" and "waive fines imposed to date".
It sets out eight points to justify what the petition calls for, including the scheme had failed to meet its intention of creating a "greener and more prosperous town centre"; allowing buses and taxis meant pedestrian enjoyment was not achieved; and Newton Road enduring higher volumes of traffic as drivers sought to avoid a u-turn in Monson Road.(Image: Sally Loram)
Kent County Council, in its report which will also be presented, at the Tunbridge Wells Joint Transportation Board meeting tonight, suggests two options to members of the committee. To do nothing, in other words, make no alterations to the layout in response to the petition. Or, to keep the public realm scheme two, as it is called, and to incorporate some amendments to "help raise further awareness of the restrictions".
County council highways officers recommend the second option. And the report said on waiving fines issued to drivers: "To waive fines imposed to date, is also not considered to be an option. The restriction is legally enforceable and Penalty Charges have been lawfully issued, which is supported by the Traffic Penalty Tribunal in their decisions reached in rejecting appeals that they have considered.
"No grounds have been established to justify refunding the penalty charges that have been paid by drivers who have contravened the Public Realm (PR2) bus gate/lane restriction. Significant operational costs have been incurred in operating PR2, which are met from the revenue generated and further costs would be incurred in making refunds. These costs would need to be funded from TWBC budgets, impacting adversely on other council services."
It also stated there was "no data" supporting the assertion in the petition that the second phase of the scheme had increased noise, air pollution, congestion or danger to pedestrians on Calverley, Crescent and Church Roads.
However, the report did state "additional traffic may use" the residential Dudley and York Roads as a short-cut to access Camden Road, to avoid restrictions.
The proposed second option, or option b, includes measures to guide drivers around the gateway, such as red surfacing at each gateway feature, more traffic enforcement signs; 'slow' markings on the approach to the raised granite table on Monson Road; and an extra enforcement camera on Calverley Road with a left turn arrow.
The estimated cost of progressing Option B, including detailed designs, would be around £15,000 said the report, to be met by the borough council. You can read the agenda for the Tunbridge Wells Joint Transportation Meeting for tonight at 6pm here.
- ^ Tunbridge Wells (www.kentlive.news)
- ^ Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (www.kentlive.news)
- ^ 9 honest reasons why Gracelands in Tunbridge Wells was a legendary night out (www.kentlive.news)
- ^ Plans for new housing estate in Cranbrook spark objections (www.kentlive.news)
- ^ Tunbridge Wells Joint Transportation Meeting for tonight at 6pm here (democracy.tunbridgewells.gov.uk)
- ^ Find out more here. (www.kentlive.news)