WATERINGBURY PARISH COUNCIL
Minutes of Highways & Transportation Committee Meeting
Tuesday 20th April 2021
7.00pm Wateringbury Village Hall
HELD VIA ZOOM
Cllr M Wells (Chairman)
Cllr D Marks
Cllr F Fielding
Cllr L Simons
Cllr P Gregson
Mrs S J Cockburn – Clerk to the Council
Cllr S Hudson – Tonbridge & Malling Borough Councillor
Cllr D Meredith – Chairman Nettlestead Parish Council
Cllr A Van Hansbergen – Vice Chairman Nettlestead Parish Council
Mrs E Bird– Rostrum correspondent
4 members of the public
The Chairman opened the meeting by reminding everyone in attendance the meeting may be filmed, recorded photographed or otherwise reported and asked if any person present intended to make a video or audio recording of the proceedings – none
- Apologies for absence – Cllr Tripp
- Declarations of interest/Dispensations – none
- Minutes of Meeting 16th March 2021 to be approved for accuracy
The Minutes having been read were approved by Cllr Marks and seconded by Cllr Fielding. All Councillors voted in favour
- Highway Improvement Plan
Cllr Fielding said residents had been asked for their views on the road issues and problems in the village and for suggestions on solutions. This was through the village Facebook pages and the Rostrum magazine. There had been 66 responses from the Wateringbury Traffic Group facebook page and some related to Maidstone Road in Nettlestead. 2 responses from the Wateringbury Facebook page and 2 or 3 by email. Rostrum had not yet been delivered so there maybe a few more through that route.
Cllr Fielding had drawn together a document which pulls together the various issues and solutions which goes on to 6 pages, and there may be more items to add if they are different to what she already had. From this the Council will be able to either select themselves what goes on to the HIP or if the Council engage a consultant to look at the safety issues maybe they can help on what goes on the HIP. The main issues are speed of vehicles on the A26 and Bow Road on to Maidstone Road which was the cause of two accidents a couple of weeks ago. Areas where pavements are too narrow making it difficult for pedestrians, mothers with pushchairs, the elderly and schoolchildren. Large lorries deliberately ignoring the weight limit particularly in Bow Road and congestion at the traffic lights caused the volume of traffic and larger vehicles congestion causing congestion where there are vehicle sparked on one side of the road. Old Road and Pizien Well Road leading on to Gibbs Hill which is very narrow and vehicles using it as a diversionary route. The Council had received emails and pictures of vehicles trying to pass each other with no room. Better, clearer signposting showing the road was not suitable was needed. The Council wants to get behind the 20mph limit on Bow Road and the speed limit coming into the village from Mereworth which the Council had been asking for.
There had been quite a lot of suggestions, some contradicting each other, but a wealth of views from residents. Cllr Fielding felt fairly confident when this is taken forward it will have captured the views of most of what people wanted, and this can be used as what the Council want to go on the HIP or through the consultant and make it a basis which they can utilize on whatever work they do.
Once the Council has everything in it should go into Rostrum and on Facebook pages stating what the Council will do with the information so people know their views will be taken into account and to thank residents for putting them forward.
For the benefit of Nettlestead Parish Council the Chairman said the Council had applied through our Highway Improvement Plan for 2020 for a 20mph zone in Bow Road down by the school. The Council had traffic surveys carried out on the A26 east & west and Bow Road north & south. On the strength of the survey result Council were told by Ian Grigor of KCC that in theory we could in fact have a 600mtr length of 20mph from the traffic lights to the boundary near The Railway pub. As it is self-enforcing other forms of traffic calming were needed. We know that KCC are loathed to put in traffic calming because of ambulances and emergency vehicles. The Council did ask how much this would cost asthere is money in the budget, but there was no answer due to KCC being too busy doing work for the Government . On April 13th a call was received from a lady at KCC Kent Schemes & Delivery team that cover Maidstone, that Nettlestead Parish Council had contacted them about the 20mph and this was checked with Ian Grigor who said he knew nothing about it, although he does know due to his comments on the possibility of a 600mtr 20mph zone. This does mean the Council has to go through this again through the Highways Improvement Plan for this year, which is disheartening.
Cllr Meredith thanked the Chairman for allowing them to join the meeting. Nettlestead Parish Council had also been lobbying KCC and had received an email that day from Jenny Watson, believed to be Schemes Project Manager, saying she had driven along the B2015 and advised the current speed limit in place was suitable for the road environment and layout. With the 30mph limit and street lights 30mph repeater signs and roundels could not be put in. It comes down to enforcement which is what the police have been actively looking at. It was noticed that Speedwatch was active in Wateringbury and suggested maybe speak to Wateringbury to loan the equipment to assist Nettlestead with Speedwatch. She was happy to arrange a speed survey to show the mean speeds and happy to fund it.
The Chairman said the Clerk would forward the Bow Road Speed Survey result and Cllr Fielding’s report might also help. Cllr Meredith felt there could be joined up thinking as the issues are in Nettlestead as well as Wateringbury. Cllr Meredith asked how the Council got the Highways Improvement Plan. The Chairman said sometime ago KCC sent information through which at the time was not taken up until 2019. The Chairman, Clerk and one other Councillor met with Ian Grigor at his office in Ashford and handed in the HIP. Not a lot was done that year due to KCC carrying out Government work. However, Ian Grigor had asked that the Council get the HIP in. The Council has had a change of heart because with the backing of our Borough Councillor and residents we do present a lot more clout to KCC, together with the work Cllr Gregson is doing for the Council with highway consultants we feel we are on the right track which hopefully will help both parishes. I am sure Cllr Gregson will not mind sending through his work on the consultancies. Cllr Meredith thanked the Chairman.
- HIGHWAY CONSULTANTS
Cllr Gregson said the Council has been looking at employing a highway consultant engineer with a brief “To Provide a detailed survey of all the approaches to Wateringbury village and list suitable changes to the highway that would deter speeding and improve pedestrian safety. All suggested changes to be itemized with expected effectiveness and approximate costs”
A fairly open brief. All the highway consultants Cllr Gregson approached were very positive about that scope in order to help the Council to develop plans. Two that Cllr Gregson had spoken to were very aware of incorporating and taking suggestions on board. They had been upfront that some were not plausible and not all were possible. Cllr Gregson had simplified as much as possible, with thanks to Cllr Marks, some hints and tips. Two improved quotes had been received from DHA and Charles & Associates, but Cllr Gregson had not been able to get any changes from Les Henry & Associates. With the details provided from DHA and Charles & Associates Cllr Gregson had made a recommendation to Councillors.
Cllr Simons asked about the issue of pollution. Cllr Gregson said he did not incorporate that in the brief and he felt there may be some additional cost if the consultant needed to do a technical survey, but he would make an enquiry.
The consultants have a schedule of costings but any additional costs could be agreed further down the line.
The Chairman said information on pollution is available from TMBC as the pollution monitoring machine is still in the village hall. Cllr Gregson said if the data can be accessed it can be passed on and he felt sure the consultant would be more than happy to look into it. The Chairman asked what details they would need and we could contact TMBC.
Cllr Hudson asked if as a result of the meeting last month are Council going to say that the crossroads are not on the table. The Chairman said Council would not know until the survey is completed. Council is paying for them to look at the whole situation and come back with recommendations. Cllr Gregson said he had spoken to the consultants about the crossroads and this was to be separate. It was to improve speed and pedestrian safety so improvements to the crossroads shouldn’t come up in conversation. Cllr Gregson had made the point this is not something Council wanted to see in any review. The Chairman said if they comeback that certain aspects of the crossroads were unsafe it would need to be looked at. Cllr Simons said if you look at the fact and figures pollution definitely affects health. The Chairman said all the information should be held by TMBC if needed. Cllr Hudson said all the data from the air pollution monitor is uploaded to a website and the details are on top of the unit.
Cllr Marks thanked Cllr Gregson for the time he has spent on this, and felt Cllr Gregson’s recommendation was absolutely right and he would support it. Cllr Fielding agreed and felt Council should go that route as it gives a lot more clout having the right information with the backing of expert advice to take to KCC.
Cllr Simons agreed with the proviso that if it is accepted and Council go down that route a meeting is held first with the consultant to put any questions. Council is paying a lot of resident’s money towards this and they needed to make sure they were getting value for money.
Cllr Gregson asked if there were questions he had not covered that he could ask. Cllr Gregson wanted to get this started as soon as possible and felt that to arrange a meeting with everyone together would not be straight forward. Cllr Simons agreed any questions she may have she would put directly to Cllr Gregson.
Cllr Gregson proposed the Parish Council accept the quote from Charles & Associates and this was seconded by Cllr Marks. All Councillors voted in favour.
The Chairman referred to the kind offer from Cllr Hudson to give £2500 towards the cost. The Council has to apply for the funds, but as Cllr Hudson would not be a County Councillor for another 2 weeks, and Cllr Gregson was keen to get the process started as soon as possible, the Chairman proposed that in the meantime Council cover the cost of the consultant’s fee out of the £10,000 in last year’s budget. There is another £10,000 in the present budget towards the 20mph limit in Bow Road.
Cllr Marks supported that as it is the Councils decision to employ a consultant then money in the budget should be used. All Councillors voted in favour. The Chairman asked Cllr Gregson to proceed and put this in hand. The Chairman thanked Cllr Gregson and Cllr Marks for their work.
- KCC HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENT PRIORITIES
The Chairman had collated the comments from the residents and it was stated these should go to Cllr Hudson
- KCC SPEED LIMIT REDUCTION A26 TONBRIDGE ROAD
Public consultation documents had been received from KCC with a map showing a proposed reduction of the speed limit on the A26 to 50mph for 600mtrs from the bend at Pizien Well Road. The Chairman said that on driving to various villages it is clear that Wateringbury is the only village that does not have a 40mph limit to its boundary. The Council had been told that due to open fields either side of the A26 a 40mph limit was not possible, despite other areas that had a 40mph limit hacing open fields along their route.
The Chairman proposed the Council object to the proposed 50mph and that this be reduced to 40mph which is supported by Councillors, Cllr Hudson and members of the public. All Councillors agreed.
Cllr Hudson stated the police had said there was nowhere along that stretch of the A26 where a speed check could be done for 40mph, but surely if the police are unable to do speed checks for 40mph then they would be unable to do it for 50mph.
Cllr Hudson had a meeting with the Road Policing Unit and Matthew Scott said categorically the police would enforce speed limits where ever it is. If it is 20,30,40,50 and someone speeding is followed by a police car they will be stopped and prosecuted.
Inspector Elizabeth Jones told Cllr Hudson that PC David Bale had liaised with Ian Grigor and both agreed 50mph was the right speed, and that two accidents at the bottom of the hill were under investigation.
Cllr Hudson understood there had been an accident at the Pizien Well Road bend involving a young boy of about 3 or 4 which she was trying to find out more.
It was stated that not all accidents on that bend are reported.
Cllr Hudson said she will continue to fight the issue and ask how many accidents are needed before resident are listened to. Cllr Hudson believed the advisory 40mph at the Pizien Well bend should become mandatory and continue until the village edge.
Cllr Marks said if KCC propose a 50mph limit it is purely a question of objection or support. If everyone objected they will not introduce it. So the Council and others should respond that they are pleased KCC are considering a reduction but it needs to be 40mph. If there is a groundswell of objections then KCC cannot ignore it. Cllr Marks agreed the Council should object to 50mph.
- ANY OTHER HIGHWAY ISSUES
Cllr Meredith said Wateringbury had a lot more money than Nettlestead parish. What Wateringbury had to spend is almost their entire precept but Nettlestead population is smaller. They have experienced apathy towards things like Speedwatch, but it was hoped that since recent accidents it might galvanise interest in the village and get some volunteers as there are issues around the village hall and Bishops Close with speeding. Leaving Nettlstead from the 40mph limit it goes to 60mph for a short distance to Nettlestead Green which is 40mph all the way through. Nettlestead as lobbied a number times to get the 60mph reduced but been refused. Interested to hear what Wateringbury is doing and would be pleased to work with the Council.
The Chairman said Council would keep Nettlestead in touch with anything being done in the area, and suggested contact is made with KCC regarding a Highway Improvement Plan and get one moving for this year. Cllr Van Hansbergen supported Cllr Meredith’s comments and just added the concerns of the 7.5ton limit with lorries coming through the village.
- DATE OF NEXT MEETING
Provisionally Tuesday 22nd June
The meeting was closed at 8.50pm