LINTON PARISH COUNCIL MINUTES of the SPECIAL MEETING of the Parish Council held in the Linton Village Hall at 7.30pm on Monday 7th August 2006
Cllrs. C. Baxter (Chairman), Mrs J. Sawyer, J. Bridle, I. Firmin, G.Harrison, and J.Whitmarsh.
Borough Councillors, A.Brindle and J.Williams. Cty Councillor Mrs.P. Stockell (Maidstone Rural West) and Cty Councillor Roger Manning (Cranbrook), Chairman of the KCC Highways Board and Lead Member Highways Transportation, Waste & Environment.
M.D.Stevens Parish Clerk
There were also 14 members of the public in attendance.
Apologies were received from Cllr. Mrs M.Price, Borough Councillor B.Mortimer, Mr & Mrs Cooper and Mr.Coutts
The Chairman welcomed everybody to the meeting especially the members of the public and Cty.Cllr Manning and reminded everybody that the Special Meeting had been called to discuss, in a more open forum, Transport and Highway matters in Linton.
He reminded the meeting that most if not all of the issues causing concern had been identified at the Public meeting held in October 2001 and, even though promises were made by officers little or no action had been taken. There had been an ongoing dialogue between the Parish Council and the Highway Authorities over the years which had had little or no effect. The whole issue was raised again at the Annual Parish Meeting held in April this year following which there had been a number of unsatisfactory responses from the Highway Authority (Responses/comments quoted from some of the correspondence). Attention was drawn to the increase in traffic movements, especially HGV’s, and the visual increase in the speed of the traffic especially on the A229.The meeting was also reminded of the development of housing in the area (eg: Linton Hospital Site) and the seemingly lack of recognition by the Officers of the additional traffic movements this would generate and hence the absence of any plans to deal with this increase particularly at Linton Cross Roads. There were also longer term implications for this junction and the B2163 with the proposed developments by the Motorway Junction al Leeds, the proposed Leeds/Langley By-Pass and the housing development at Pested Barns currently underway (200+ houses).
The issue had been discussed at a recent Parish Council meeting following which Cllr.Whitmarsh had drawn up a list a number of proposals for discussion, copies of which had been made available to the meeting
Cllr Whitmarsh was invited to present his list to the meeting and to comment. In outlined his thinking behind the list Cllr Whitmarsh drew particular attention to the first 11 points which he felt were achievable and practical whilst the others, whilst desirable, were more of a ‘wish list’ at this stage. He had spent some time researching previous papers and correspondence and assured the meeting that most of the points that had been identified over the years were covered.
Before inviting comments the Chairman formally adjourned the Parish Council meeting in order to enable the Public to take part in the debate/discussion.
There then followed a wide ranging debate/ discussion involving all present. It was evident that the public were increasingly concerned about the speed and volume of traffic and the lack of any action to slow it down. The safety of pedestrians was identified as the footways were narrow, poorly surfaced and the traffic was very close to anybody using them. There was an urgent need to
slow traffic down and SPEEDWATCH was identified as one way of possibly achieving this although the difficulties of enforcement were recognised. It was pointed out that some measures, which would have an immediate impact, could be undertaken at low cost eg Repainting SLOW signs, renewing/replacing the white lining, marking the Bus Stops. cutting back the trees/hedges, new signs re HGV’s turning, 30mph road marking, cleaning gullies etc.) many of these issues were maintenance items and should be undertaken on a ‘rolling programme’ basis…… they had not been.
The moving of the 30mph zone to the traffic lights in the north and to below Wheelers Lane in the south had been agreed by the Parish Council however the feeling of the meeting was that, whilst this was acceptable, as was the extension of the 40mph limit south to beyond Butt Green Lane, if motorists obeyed the present limits there would be no need to move them
The siting of the inter-active sign was discussed as was the possibility of a second interactive sign at the top of the Hill. Both these issues needed further investigation as to date no satisfactory answers to the questions raised had been received. The possibility of T/V Surveillance of traffic movements/speed was suggested as was the upgrading of the ‘ice warning sign’ to make it more ‘productive’ in terms of information on traffic.
The increase in traffic movements as a result of developments at the Hospital Site and others was again underlined and there was numerical evidence given that there had been a considerable increase in the number of traffic movements since the last census was taken. This was without the additional traffic the proposed housing developments would generate. This had to be a concern.
It was not understood as to why, when Planning Permission for Housing and other Developments was agreed with the Planners.
Developers were not served with sensible Section 106 agreements which would enable some to the necessary improvements to be undertaken. This was recognised as a problem however the meeting was advised that in future much more care and attention would be paid to this matter.
Attention was drawn to the problems at Redwall Lane caused by and ever increasing number of HGV’s turning in and out of the Lane …. Some of which were now pulling trailers. This had now become a very dangerous junction which needed to be marked more clearly in the short term and re engineered in the longer term
The possibility of ‘safety islands’ for pedestrian, as per Loose Road, was raised with the view to slowing traffic down and offering safe crossing points. The meeting was advised that this had been explored and the road had been deemed too narrow. The same was true for right turning lanes at Wheeler and Redwall Lanes.
It was pointed out that the Parish Council should ensure that a recognition of the implications relating to additional traffic movements along the A229 and the B2163 generated as a result of housing and other developments both within and outside the immediate area together with the potential growth of traffic as a result of the proposed developments at the Motor Way Junction and the Leeds/Langley By-Pass are adequately recognised in the MBC Core Strategy Document as this will form the blue print for future action.
On a show of hands indications were that there would be ample volunteers to train to become SPEEDWATCH operatives when the opportunity arose.
The Clerk made the point that over the years the main excuse for NOT undertaking any action re the A229 was that statistically it was not designated a dangerous road and therefore had a low priority both with the Highway Authority and the Police. It did seem, based on recent evidence elsewhere, that it was necessary to have a series of bad/fatal accidents before any action was taken. He feared that this excuse would be used again.
Cllr.Stockell indicated that she had found the discussion helpful, it must ne recognised that the main road dissected the Village and there was an urgent need to slow the traffic down and to make it a safer place for all concerned. There was ‘no short fix’ but something needed to be done.
Cllr Wiliams made the point that other authorities in other parts of the country take action to slow traffic down especially through the Villages with a view to omproving the quality of life of the residents. A number of matter that had been raised (eg inter-active sign) he proposed to follow up and again underlined the fact that unless something was undertaken quickly at Linton Crossroads ‘Grid Lock’ would soon be the order of the day.
He was concerned about the seemingly lack of liaison between the Planners and the Highways
Cllr Brindle in supporting much of what had already been said underlined his concern about the increase in traffic movements and the lack of planning for the future as far this was concerned. He advised the meeting that the MBC Current Administration had stated that there would be no further major Housing Developments without appropriate infrastructure being put in place.
Cllr Manning felt that he had heard many positive suggestions during the evening and was impress by the constructive points that had been made. There were a number of matters which he would investigate further with the Officers and would respond in due course and asked for a copy of the Minutes of the meeting. He reminded the meeting of the Maidstone Joint Transport Board and the need to keep them advised through the appropriate channels
He commended SPEEDWATCH to the meeting as he felt that it was a valuable tool and, once operative , would help with the problem of speeding on the A229 and was encouraged by the number of those present who had volunteered to help.
Whatever happened it was clear that there are no “quick solutions” to the problems identified, however he did feel that there were a number of matters which could easily and cheaply be dealt with and he would discuss these with Officers. The reality was however that the Budget for this type of work had been reduced considerably something in the order of 20% and that difficult decisions had to be taken.
At this point the Chairman thanked everybody for their contributions to the debate, which he felt had been constructive and very helpful, and formally resumed the Parish Council Meeting.
After a brief discussion the parish Council asked Cllr.Whitmarsh to draw up a list of the main points made during the evening and to submit it to a sub group of Councillors ( Chairman, Cllr.Firmin and Cllr Whitmarsh + the Clerk) who would discuss them and draw up a strategy for action which would be submitted to the Parish Council for approval in September. There may however be a number of general points on which immediate action should be taken eg. seeking further information from the Kent Highways or the Police. This was agreed.
Before the Chairman closed the meeting the Clerk drew attention to the closure of Vanity Lane for one week from Monday 14th August 2006 for electrical cable laying. An alternative access route would be signed via Wheelers Lane
There being no further business the Chairman thanked all present for their excellent contributions to the debate which he felt had been very worthwhile and closed the meeting at 9.22pm