Monday, 10 August 2009

Fant road safety - timeline and spin

The traffic calming debacle in Fant needs to be set out properly so below is a timeline of events:

Sept 2008: Greens collect 346 signatures from residents on Bower Place, Upper Fant Road, Gatland Lane and Glebe Lane calling for less traffic and better safety on their roads.

Autumn 2008: Lib Dems hold a demo on Gatland Lane / Fant Lane at the junction where traffic calming / improvements were already planned to be implemented. (We welcome these plans and I'll be commenting on them in a future blog). (p.s. I have subsequently established that although the scheme there was on the long list, it hadn't yet been agreed for funding).

Dec 2008: Petition goes to Kent County Council and Maidstone Borough Council

28 Jan 2009: Petition discussed at Maidstone Transportation Board. The minutes state: "The Board considered the reference from Council regarding the petition received on the Fant Traffic Campaign. RESOLVED: That it was noted the Kent Highways Services had received the petition and that design work had started on a scheme and that consultation will take place in due course."

A fairly amazing response which seemed too good to be true so we waited for other evidence that KCC had acted quickly in response to the petition...

15 Apr 2009: Committee papers detailing agreed schemes includes on page 12 a mention a a new scheme for traffic calming in Fant under in Agenda Item 8 in "APPENDIX A. Integrated Transport Improvement Schemes for Maidstone Borough"

Then in Agenda Item 11: "Integrated Transport Programme for Maidstone 2009/10 and
beyond" (page 27)...

In case the writing is too small it says "Integrated Transport Schemes approved for implementation in 2009/10, Fant Traffic Calming £85,000: Speed Cushions on Bower Place, Upper Fant Road, Gatland Land and Glebe Lane and a crossing facility in vicinity of Bower Grove School to reduce vehicle speeds"

Jun 2009: I spoke with Ben Hilden, the engineer at KCC to clarify when the traffic calming scheme would commence. I was told that there were two schemes, one going to be implemented this year and one next year. He also said that Glebe Lane would not be included.

29 Jul 2009: The agenda papers for the Transportation Board (Agenda Item 11):

I spoke at the meeting to demand an explanation for the U turn by council and none was given. They claimed that previous reports were produced by mistake! None of the councillors, neither Lib Dem or Tory spoke to back the urgent need for action on the other three roads or to question why KCC had got it so wrong.

While I completely acknowledge that the Gatland Land / Fant Lane scheme was going ahead first, it looks to me like they have used the agreement for that scheme as a way of saying that they have met the demands of the petition. This is appalling spin to say the least and frankly I am quite disgusted.


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Unknown said...

Again Stuart I find myself troubled by your constant desire to shout "spin", particularlly at the local Lib Dems rather than just discuss the issue and acknowledge where the parties are working in the same direction.

The street protest was also held in 'September 2008'. I could argue that by listing it after your petition and calling it 'Autumn 2008' you are trying to spin it so it looks like the Lib Dems jumped on the band wagon.

You also suggest that the improvements were going to happen at the junction Gatland Lane regardless of the protest. Spin to suggest again that the Lib Dems were just doing something for publicity when the outcome was already known. In fact, the Lib Dems were very clear in their literature at the time that whilst some work was 'planned' the local Councillor had just been told that it "may not even be discussed by Kent County Council until 2010/11". The local residents who turned out presumably agreed with him that a protest was needed to attempt to bring the issue up the political agenda. By the by, as I recall, it had not been decided by that stage excatly what work would be done and there was a feeling that the initial proposal was not sufficient.

I appluad you and your party's efforts in the local area, but I'm afraid I find the constant yelling of 'spin' whilst misrepresenting the facts yourself somewhat tedious and unhelpful.

Stuart Jeffery said...


Firstly, the Lib Deb protest was at the end of September and we had certainly collected almost all of our signatures by that point.

Secondly, Having gone through the JTB minutes again I accept that the Fant Land / Gatland Lane improvement had not scored highly enough on Pipkin to be funded in 08/09. The Lib Dem protest was therefore justified and I apologise for that mistake.

Finally, I had not shouted spin at the Lib Dems or suggested that we weren't working in a similar direction. Indeed I had stated that I welcomed the Fant Lane plan! I had, however criticised the JTB for suggesting that the petition was being acted upon when it was not. I criticised Lib Dems and Tories for not sticking up for the rest of the Fant residents who had signed the petition.