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Contact: Caroline Britt Democratic Services Officer
The Chair’s introduction included an update on the action point at the meeting held on 25 January 2021 in respect of Cornford Lane/Halls Hole Road which included the following:
- It was agreed that Councillor Rankin and Councillor Hamilton would meet with Kent County Council Highway Officers to draft Terms of Reference that would better inform discussions going forward.
- The initial agreement was that the Terms of Reference would be circulated to Members of the JTB Board ideally by the end of February 2021.
- A meeting with Kent County Council Officers had taken place but due to the current exceptional circumstances details of this discussion had yet to be disseminated.
- Details would follow shortly, along with a letter to the Cornford Lane residents association.
- In advance of the details being sent to Members and the Cornford Lane residents association, a brief summary of the discussion at the meeting was given:
o It was important to note that any action would have to be evidence based.
o Collison data (last available three years up to 30 September 2020) showed no recorded personal injuries on Cornford Lane. Halls Hole Road recorded two personal injury collisions (1 slight, 1 serious) but with no identifiable pattern or trend.
o Traffic speed data for Cornford Lane suggested good levels of compliance with average speeds below the posted speed limits.
o Traffic speed data for Halls Hole Road also suggested good levels of compliance with average speeds significantly below the posted speed limits.
o Cornford Lane was listed on Pembury Parish Council’s Highway Improvement Plan, but was listed 15 out of 17 in terms of priority.
o In the light of current evidence it was the conclusion of Kent County Council Highways that attention and resources had to be prioritised where evidence suggested they were most needed. As such they couldn’t support any proposals for one-way compulsory movements and a 6’6” /2.0m prohibition of traffic width restrictions on Cornford Lane and Hall’s Hole road.
- In terms of the way forward, the Highways Improvement Plans and an equivalent for the unparished areas of the Borough could play a significant role.
- This issue affected more than the immediate area and any group would have needed to include a broad range of people.
- Concerns about traffic displacement would be a significant factor.
- An apology was given that the level of engagement wanted had not been able to take place but at this time the County were not in a position to do anything further on this issue. It was suggested the residents continue to speak to their elected Members.
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Councillors Stanyer and Woodward.
To receive any declarations of interest by Members in items on the agenda. For any advice on declarations of interest, please contact the Monitoring Officer before the meeting.
There were no disclosable pecuniary interests or other significant interests declared at the meeting.
To note any members of the Council wishing to speak, of which due notice has been given in accordance with Council Meeting Procedure Rule 18, and which items they wish to speak on.
Mr Howard Mackenzie, Friends of Cornford Lane had registered to speak on Agenda item 4.
Councillor James Rands had registered to speak on Agenda Item 5. In addition 3 members of the public had registered to speak on this item:
- Mrs Pippa Collard – local resident
- Mr Adrian Berendt – on behalf of RTW Town Forum
- Mr D McIntyre – local resident.
Mr Paul Mason, representing TWBUG had registered to speak on Agenda Item 8.
To approve the minutes of a previous meeting as a correct record. The only issue relating to the minutes that can be discussed is their accuracy.
Mr Howard Mackenzie, Friends of Cornford Lane had registered to speak which included the following:
- It was suggested that a fair balance on the discussion on Cornford Lane/Halls Hole Road was not included in the minutes and it was requested the following be comments be added:
o ‘Nobody in their right mind would use Cornford Lane to save even 10 minutes as evidenced by their depiction of the lane like a mad max movie.”
o ‘I completely agree with all who have spoken that a working party is a good idea and should include those adjacent to the road and those affected by changes’.
o ‘We know what the problems are, I would support some sort of traffic restriction that makes it virtually impossible for HGV’s and even commercial vans to use this route. As soon as lockdown comes off, traffic wants to get back to previous levels. We cannot attack motorists, we must carry on supporting motorists.’
o ‘ I am aware the congestion has been bad here for a long time.’
o ‘The matter generated the largest email response I have ever received. The Reynolds Lane closure approved through the Emergency Active Travel Scheme was probably an analogous situation. Traffic that uses rat runs doesn’t evaporate, the same cars appear further up the road, challenging the notion that restrictions on rat runs causes car Armageddon on the main arterial routes.’
o ‘It’s a rush hour problem and I have some empathy with residents. If we set this precedent setting up a working group, every other lobbying group will want one as well.’
o ‘We currently have no plans to revisit, but will of course await any information that comes forward.’
o ‘We have had two work parties previously on the JTB. Work parties are very, very beneficial. Parishes and KALC would be very supportive to a working party.’
o ‘It is understood that officers said they could not prioritise this matter so Councillors Hamilton and Rankin should be able to sort out the Terms of Reference for the working group without officers. I would be amazed if a working group didn’t include residents’.
o ‘This long standing lobby group, a very well-resourced eloquent persuasive and armed with an impressive address book, which is why they are here.’
o ‘I go back to 2014 on this one when as the present Leader, Alan McDermott will attest, and the past Leader, David Jukes, we had a nasty surprise when we only found out about a potential closure of Cornford Lane through the back door. It was almost ad hoc and to say that we were incandescent without being consulted on this would be understated. In Pembury when I put this out to the wider populous they were equally incandescent that they were not aware of the closure’.
- It was stated that some of the comments were directed at individuals rather than facts.
- The statement referring to the closure of Cornford Lane was challenged by numerous Council records ... view the full minutes text for item TB29/20
To consider the proposals set out in the report.
Mrs Pippa Collard had registered to speak and provided the following statement:
“Thank you for allowing me to speak.
At the JTB in January 2019 residents of York Road first expressed their concern over the impact of Public Realm Phase 2 on this narrow residential road due to the inevitable increase in traffic volume and rat running caused by cars wishing to access the town via Monson Road.
*On 20th December 2019 (pre Covid) in a half hour lunchtime period, residents, together with the Chair of the Town Forum, carried out a traffic count to gain an initial understanding of traffic flows down York Road. We counted a total of 45 cars using York Road, 27 cars going to Monson Road and 18 cars to Mount Pleasant.
*Precisely a year later, enforcement in place and despite Tier 3 Lockdown, another traffic count, same half hour period, showed a total of 57 cars using York Road and of them 39 going to Monson Road. So, a significant increase in cars accessing Monson Road at a time of normal traffic and subsequently at a time of supposedly reduced traffic due to the pandemic.
Hence proving the anticipated trend that York Road is a major trajectory and is bearing an increase in cars accessing Monson Road due to the new traffic enforcement.
I would now like to draw your attention to the fact that a meeting was held at the Town Hall on 20th November 2019 between residents of York and Dudley Roads and various council and KCC members, including David Scott, Jamie Watson and Gary Stevenson.
I read to you from the minutes taken by David Scott at that meeting and the recommendation therein: -
‘The preferred and concluded option was to introduce an experimental road closure of York Rd and Dudley Rd using road signs. A temporary barrier could be installed (say a plastic barrier) for a period to determine whether this improved traffic reduction or caused emergency, utility and delivery vehicle problems.’
‘The experimental phase would run concurrently with consultation.’
‘Proposals should be kept at minimum costs if possible, to ensure they can be implemented.’
It was agreed that Jamie Watson was to straightaway prepare a high-level document for the politicians to progress.
This temporary road closure did not happen, we are told due to the pandemic and we ask that now, rather than as an afterthought, you implement it without further delay.
This is a system effectively put into place in many other towns across the UK and which will have the following positive impacts:
a) Stop rat running down a small, unsuited residential street.
b) Reduce very real safety concerns for pedestrians crossing Monson Road.
c) Reduce parking issues for residents of York Road.
d) Reduce safety concerns for pedestrians crossing York Road at the town end.
e) York Road residents to thus access London Road at the west end, thereby stopping the need to drive the extra ¾ mile imposed by the PR phase 2.
Ultimately, ... view the full minutes text for item TB30/20
Electric Vehicle Charge Update
John Strachan, Parking Manager provided a verbal update on Electric Vehicle Charging which included the following:
- This related particularly to charging for shoppers, visitors and those working in Tunbridge Wells. It also related to residents who didn’t have off street parking or access to charging facilities.
- In March 2021 TWBC joined a Kent CC procurement project (one of 7 Kent Authorities who had joined). The project sought to partner with an organisation that would provide electric vehicle charge points. This would primarily be in car parks. The charge points would be provided on a profit sharing basis.
- The chargers themselves were quite expensive – the fast chargers were about £3,000, the rapid chargers were about £23,000.
- If the agreement went ahead it would be for up to 15 years.
- The procurement exercise was currently underway and Kent CC hoped to award the contract in May 2021. Installation would commence in June 2021.
- TWBC had offered nearly all of its car parks as potential hosts. For the surface car parks the charging regime was likely to be fast chargers. The rapid chargers would be placed in car parks used by shoppers.
- TWBC were also seeking its own arrangements for external providers to host these chargers. This was being undertaken so that a comparison to what was being offered by Kent CC was available.
- Grant funding from Central Government was available, particularly from the Office for Zero Emissions. This funding was dependent on the chargers being available to residents.
- Two rapid chargers, close to the railway station had been installed on Mount Pleasant Road, one to be used primarily by taxi’s.
- TWBC were also finalising documentation to install another taxi and car charger in Commercial Road East Car Park in Paddock Wood.
- To date TWBC had received little interest from residents for chargers. The use of chargers currently installed in the car parkers was not widely used. Although this might change when the move to electric vehicles took place in 2030.
Discussion included the following comments:
- A number of residents in the St John’s area had expressed an interest for the provision of on street parking chargers. Residents were able to email Mr Strachan direct.
- A questionnaire was going to be sent to permit holders and season ticket holders to try and gauge the appetite for residents to own electric vehicles and to establish whether the lack of charging facilities was a barrier.
- TWBC were working on ways to provide on street charging in densely populated areas. The use of lamp posts presented a number of difficulties and was not currently appropriate.
- There were a couple of car parks in the St John’s area that had been identified as a possible location for electric chargers.
- Currently the price of electric cars were prohibitive for many drivers.
- The life of the chargers was of concern. At present, charge point technology was reasonably stable and it was ... view the full minutes text for item TB31/20
To consider the proposals set out in the report.
Julian Cook, Tunbridge Wells District Manager at Kent CC introduced the Highways Works Programme that provided an update on the works scheduled for 2020/2021 financial year and some of the works proposed for 2021/2022 financial year.
Discussion included the following comments:
- The surface treatment sites for 2021/22 had not been included but would be available at the next meeting. Details would also be available shortly on the Kent County Council website.
- Confirmation was requested regarding that the £600k funding for the A26 cycle way was still available. Kent CC didn’t have the latest information available but said they would revert after the meeting. Following the meeting, Kent CC were able to provide the following information ‘ The local growth fund manager at Kent CC is currently working on an agreement in principle to have the available funds in question transferred directly to TWBC so that they, alongside TMBC can continue to explore options for appropriate infrastructure between the two town centres.’
- The zebra crossing on London Road was very welcome.
- A pedestrian crossing at the Church Road, London Road junction was desperately needed. Due to the presence of steps on the northern side, the crossing was inaccessible to wheelchair users and those using prams. Following the meeting Kent CC confirmed that the SPD project manager had been informed.
- The failure to use red bricks when repairing pavements in the heritage areas was a concern. The use of tarmac wasn’t appropriate.
- Kent CC were proposing to bring a report to the JTB later in the year on the use of red bricks. Some of the problems revolved around the presence of tree roots. If the tree roots were large, it was not possible to use red bricks. Tarmac was often used as a temporary measure until a permanent resolution could be found.
- Where new trees are planted, a tree pit was included so that the roots went down rather than across.
- The use of embossed pavements had been used by other Councils and had been trialled in other areas of Kent, whilst it looked good when first put down, it did not wear very well and within 12 months looked very unsightly.
- There had also been incidents of cars driving/parking on red brick footways. Red bricks were never designed to take the weight of cars and this had caused them to break.
- There was an ongoing issue with sink holes across the borough. There had been a particular problem with sink holes in Pennington Road due to the presence of a water line that had been dripping continuously, causing erosion. Southern Water had been called out numerous times and would be called in again. Kent CC were aware of the sink hole on Holden Park Road which was now under investigation.
- The cause of sink holes were often due to historic water leaks.
- Members were very appreciative of the work undertaken by the Highways Team.
RESOLVED – That the ... view the full minutes text for item TB32/20
To agree any topics for future meetings, of which prior notice must be sent to the Chairman and Democratic Services Officer no later than 4pm on the working day before the meeting. There can not be any substantive debate/discussion or any decision on any topics raised, except to agree whether the topic may come forward in future.
Paul Mason, Tunbridge Wells Bicycle Users Group (TWBUG) had registered to speak which included the following:
- The JTB was the only forum for discussions of plans made by TWBC but that needed Kent CC to implement.
- There were a number of plans that were rarely discussed at the JTB and for which it was suggested they now be included.
- Some examples of suggested topics that should be considered as standing items for the JTB included:
o Carbon neutral status by 2030.
o Walking and cycling targets in the Kent Active Travel Strategy.
o The cycling network as set out in TWBC’ s Cycling Strategy.
o TWBC’s Transport Strategy.
- Last year the Government published 4 radical documents:
o Decarbonising and Transport Plan.
o Gear Change.
o Changes to the Highway Code.
o Design Manual for Cycling Infrastructure.
- A proposal was requested for a single agenda item that encompassed these elements perhaps under the banner of Active Travel.
Discussion included the following comments:
- The proposals from Cllr Scott were about de-carbonising. Additionally with regards to electric vehicles, it was about private enterprises bearing the cost of these items. The Council would be the enabling body that would provide the facilities for light vehicles. It was also about reducing the number of heavy vehicles in the centre of town.
- In the first instance Kent CC agreed to take the information away regarding the use of light electric vehicles for further consideration regarding viability and funding.
- The second proposal from Cllr Scott related to the bus and pedestrian area around Tesco’s. Better bus provision and enhanced pedestrian areas would be beneficial for local residents and businesses. Further discussion with officers would be necessary before a decision could be taken to take it forward.
- Cllr Lidstone requested that Cornford Lane/Halls Hole Road be included as a future agenda item (picking up from the action point at the meeting on 25 January 2021). Details of next steps should be brought forward at the next meeting.
- The concept of having something similar to a Highways Improvements Plan (HIP) in the unparished areas of the borough could be beneficial for issues such as Cornford Lane. The model of the HIP could be a good way of taking this forward.
- It was suggested that a contact at TWBC (Highways Team) could liaise with Kent CC to consider and prioritise issues with the view of making an Action Plan similar to what was done in the Parishes.
- Finding solutions to traffic problems was something that Councillors were entrusted to do.
- A vote was requested for ‘Next Steps for Cornford Lane and Halls Hole Road’ to be included on the next agenda.
- There was concern about what putting Cornford Lane on the next agenda would achieve. Kent CC Highways had made clear unless and until new evidence was available, no further action could be taken at this time. It was highly unlikely that Kent CC officers would ... view the full minutes text for item TB33/20
To note that the next scheduled meeting will be held on Monday 5 July 2021 at 6.00pm.
The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 5 July 2021 at 6:00pm.