An ‘active travel’ scheme being put in place in Broadstairs will mean many disabled people will effectively be barred from using the lower end of the High Street, says resident Graham Cosby.
Mr Cosby, 66, says the loss of three disabled bays outside the Albion, to be replaced by a ‘cycle zone,’ will make it impossible for his 30-year-old son, who uses a wheelchair, and his wife, 71, who has had cancer and a stroke and suffers with Parkinson’s, to walk to facilities because all other disabled bays are too far away.
The ‘temporary’ 18 month scheme includes a pedestrian and cycle zone on Albion Street and Harbour Street between Albion Street car park and its junction with High Street. The zone will operate between the hours of 10am-10pm (except buses, taxis and for access).
There will also be a bus gate on Albion Street between the junctions of Alexandra Road and Harbour Street. This means that there will be no through traffic except for buses, taxis and cycles. The bus gate will be in force 24/7, seven days a week.
Because the scheme comes under an ‘experimental traffic order’ prior consultation was not carried out. It is funded from a government pot which stipulates Kent County Council had to have schemes in place within eight weeks to qualify for a second tranche of cash.
Mr Cosby said: “My son Jono has Cerebral Palsy and other issues, and is a wheelchair user, my wife Judith has had cancer, followed by a stroke and has now been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and I have spinal stenosis.
“If these spaces are removed to be replaced by a cycle rack, we will not be able to access the lower end of the High Street – restaurants, butchers, bakers, Boots, Tesco and Nationwide- the only bank in town.
“I would like to continue supporting local businesses who were kind enough to deliver to us when we were in lockdown and when I was in the QEQM with Covid.”
Mr Cosby says the next nearest designated bays are more than 50m walk from the facilities – the maximum anyone with a Blue Badge is able to walk -and parking at Crofts Hill would mean an uphill struggle on the return walk.
Mr Cosby, who is currently self isolating due to a second run of Covid symptoms, said: “It was suggested that we use a normal car park space but it is not possible to park in a standard parking space as it is impossible to remove the wheelchair, or to enter/exit the vehicle. Disability vehicles, such as ours, are frequently larger than standard cars in order to accommodate a wheelchair and in many cases a lift and ramp. No consideration has been given to this.
“The issues created for my family and many others, by the removal of these allocated spaces, should be recognised.. It denies us access to the facilities and is clearly discriminatory for the entire disabled community, of which there are many in Broadstairs.”
The changes will have the greatest impact on Jono who cannot walk and has to crawl to move by himself. He suffers from Cerebral Palsy, Ataxia, Hyperplasia, Brainstem Atrophy and Retinopathy. He loves animals, being on the soft sand at the beach and meeting people but will be stuck without the parking in Albion Street.
Mr Cosby says he believes the traffic order changes will be detrimental to businesses in the town and that the cycle zones will not be used as cyclists already travel on the clifftop cycle trail.
Ward councillor Ruth Bailey said the plan has caused “concern” and she has been asking the county council for clarity.
She said: “Originally, at the end of June, outline plans were touted as a short-term measure which would be active over the busy summer season to allow for social distancing, cycling and pavement licences.
“Instead the busiest holiday period has been missed and we are now presented with a trial lasting up to 18 months. As the plans are designated as temporary, they do not require public consultation which I know people are generally unhappy about. KCC has been under pressure to execute such schemes all over Kent, within a very tight time frame, or risk losing the second much larger tranche of money.
“I have had online meetings with the KCC project manager where I represented the concerns of businesses and residents, including Mr Cosby’s concerns regarding disabled access.
“I was assured the scheme will be continually monitored and adapted if necessary. KCC say they will be consulting with businesses and if there is evidence of a negative economic impact it will be grounds for a rethink.
“The road safety concerns of the diversion via Crow Hill, Lindenthorpe Road and Carlton Avenue is another issue I raised. KCC are of the opinion that if they put in double yellow lines it would just widen the road increasing the potential for speeding. However, they say they will be monitoring these roads and will consider additional measures if they feel they are necessary.
“I have been in regular correspondence with Mr Cosby and he has my sympathies as I know how vital the disabled parking spaces are to him. I know that he is also speaking for the disabled community as a whole.
“I have asked whether at least one disabled space be retained outside of the Albion Hotel, alongside the proposed bicycle parking, or alternative provision made close by. The officer said that she would take this suggestion back for further consideration. It was also pointed out that there are disabled spaces in each of the car parks and on the edge of the promenade.”
South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay says he wants works ‘stopped immediately.’
He said: “I am in horror at what is proposed. Whilst I could accept rational argument that a trial total closure during the peak of the Summer season may have had validity, particularly to facilitate tables, chairs, the scheme that KCC proposes as Autumn is with us allowing through buses, taxis, deliveries and access but disallowing a through route to the general public, achieves little to nothing.
“Nobody I have spoken to wants this. There has been no consultation, or any thought as to how this will impact on businesses. It would seem to me that the Albion Street project is a last minute overdue proposal to tick a funding box to enable other government funding (the larger Tranche 2) to be accessed. A better spending of these funds under CEATF would be to remit back to the Treasury. I want these works stopped immediately. Unfortunately, KCC will have the final say on this, but I have left senior Highways officers in no doubt of my views.”
Cllr Bailey says not all responses to the plan have been negative with some residents welcoming the plans while others have said they would bide their time before assessing the effects.
KCC has asked people to let the scheme bed in for a few weeks to see how it is working before emailing comments directly to firstname.lastname@example.org
This is an outrageous discrimatory idea
Thank you Martin! Someone with compassion and understanding.
bloody cyclists need to stop bending over backwards for these people who do not contribute anything to road safety in fact they cause more accidents than anyone else
Could you provide proof of your last nine words? Thanks.
“In 2018, the highest number of fatalities were car users, both drivers and passengers, who accounted for 44% of road deaths; ”
Yes I agree Ken. Unfortunately, across the country a large number of cyclists are responsible for causing accidents! The number that you see going up the inside of vehicles and through red lights is amazing. They believe they have a ‘god given right’ which we are pampering to….They don’t even pay directly to provide and service roads in the way that car drivers do through the RFL (car tax).
It seems to be mostly car drivers who believe they have a god-given right to do whatever they want and park wherever they want including on the pavement. Which may be a legal thing to do (except in London) but is very thoughtless and selfish.
No one has paid “car tax” since 1937.
Local roads are funded by KCC. And motorists, cyclists and pedestrians are all council tax payers.
National routes (Motorways and trunk routes) are paid for by national government via taxation. And motorists, cyclists and pedestrians all pay taxes, one way and another.
So all of us pay towards the upkeep of the roads, and all of us are entitled to use them.
Given that private motor cars are the most polluting of land transportation, I think that everything should be done to discourage there use, and encourage walking, cycling and use of public transport.
Be part of the solution, not the problem. Get rid of your car.
Unfortunately ANDREW, the majority of blue badge holders rely upon a vehicle, without it, some of these people would be housebound. Blue badge holders are not the problem, discrimination is the problem.
Too many cars is the problem.
Very disappointing, once again disabled people are marginalised and excluded, by a county wide authority out of touch with peoples needs, blatent discrimination from KCC.
Just for once, pedestrians and cyclists, who are regularly overlooked, not to say marginalised and excluded, are having a few facilities provided.
I assume you are able bodied and haven’t experienced the daily issues faced by the disabled and their Carers!
It would be good if you and others were to recognize and possibly experience these issues and therefore the impact it DOES have! ”Disabled Lives SHOULD Matter too”!
To my knowledge cyclists do NOT directly pay to use the roads, in the same way that car owners/drivers do through RFL (car tax). Pedestrians are provided with footpaths, hence the term!
Pedestrians and cyclists have alternatives, the disabled, of which there are many in Broadstairs, don’t. If they could walk, they would walk!
Thank you GRAHAM, great comment.
I disagree! Pedestrians have footpaths, its in the name. Cyclists have cycle paths, there is one across Thanet, so they are already being catered for. They have ‘alternatives’!and have been provided for.
There are no specialist disabled facilities in place Wheelchairs Only or Disability Scooters Only and now their parking spaces are being removed….This is discrimination pure and simple. In this day and age it is illegal……”Disabled Lives Matter Too”
Totally agree. There has been a widely supported campaign
“Black Lives Matter”, which I support, as I believe “All Lives Matter”
We should start a campaign “Disabled Lives SHOULD Matter Too”
Typical short-sighted elected officials, they should involve disabled people in discussions which affect disabled people.
I couldn’t agree more. The officials imposing this plan obviously have no experience, personal or otherwise of the issues face by the disabled and the impact this will have on them
Seems daft that money has to spent quickly on schemes ,that at any other time would have plenty of time for planning and consultation ,purely to qualify for more cash. Hardly suggests that it’ll represent best value for money in the long term.
But hey ho gives the climate change lobby plenty to keep them quiet for a while.
Yes I agree.. it is not how the Government intended the money should be spent! It was intended for positive benefits, not negative outcomes (Grant Shapps warned against misuse of the money!
Same comment I made about Westgate leave things as they are ,pen pushers trying to warrant their huge salaries.
Yes! Yes! Yes! How correct you are!
If you look at it…
The KCC staff are employed/paid by us through taxes and council tax!
They are spending our money (taxes) granted by the Government with the best intentions to benefit the many, Not to negatively impact the many, for the possible benefit of an absolute minority.
What a waste, plus as motorists we lose access to the roads we have paid for! Bizarre!
Never been enough disabled bays in Broadstairs & to take away some of what there is is absolutely diabolical.maybe they should have someone on the board( ie a disabled person) of whoever makes these decisions
A blue badge holder can park in any TDC on or off street parking space for as they want.
Yes, we already know that, but the problem is most “normal” parking spaces are not wide enough, to allow a person with a disability to exit/enter the vehicle, or to be able to access a wheelchair, or nobility scooter from the vehicle.
Hi Brad, Yes we can, however:
1) First have to find a space within a reasonable distance (less than 50m and not uphill) of your destination.
2) The space must be large enough to park a disabled vehicle, which is frequently larger due to its purpose!
3) It must also allow the removal and return of the wheelchair! NB Those vehicles with a lift, hoist require even more space, and those with a ramp require 3m behind the rear doors.
Unfortunately the able bodied and those who have not experienced caring for the disabled have absolutely no comprehension of the daily issues faced! Removal of specialist disabled bays is discriminatory and a backward step, which is a sad reflection on society!
Disabled members of society, didn’t choose to have a disability, and deserve compassions, understanding and assistance from society. Able bodied members of society have numerous choices, perhaps one of these choices could be to understand disability!!
Thank you for your comments. I couldn’t agree more and it makes sense! However, they are totally intransigent in their imposition of the plan. I highlighted the issues/flaws by email, on the day the plan was announced…They have not responded!!!
Seems these schemes are happening in at least 3 of Thanet’s towns, Westgate, margate and Broadstairs. There hasn’t been a lot of publicity about them by KCC but it has been picked up by TIOTN and brought to us here. Without this we would be non the wiser until the works begin.
KCC say they have to implement these schemes within 8 weeks or the lose extra money, which sounds a bit like blackmail to me. But what is the point taking the funding if they are making the towns non usable for many, especially those with disabilities? Is this what they want as it damned well seems like it. No thoughts whatsoever for anyone as long as they receive the money. I haven’t heard if Ramsgate, Cliftonville and Birchigton will be getting these schemes implemented also.
The government department issuing the funds should allow time for KCC consultation with the public to come up with the best schemes.
You are so right!
Perhaps the second tranche of money £6.4m is to be used for these towns!
However a little tongue in cheek, have you considered that they might use it to pedestrianise the Thanet Way?
I have been saying for a long time Thanet does not want disabled people, I have long given up going to Ramsgate, Margate,Broadstairs the bottom end of high street, I also have a large car with a lift at the back to get wheelchair out so I know the problems, no where on Margate seafront (apart from few spaces at turner centre) is there facilities for disabled,
Have you seen how many disabled bays there are in the ramsgate multistorey? Whilst they have dual use in the evenings and weekends (when upper storeys are closed)mid week i don’t ever recall seeing more than half ever in use. I’d imagine the margate multistorey has similar provision, though given the decline of the upper high street it is safe to assume the disabled bays there are not in a good position.
Many of these bays in the multi-storey car parks, are just too far away from the necessary shops required.
Hi May, I agree and obviously sympathize with you!
It is amazing that those in ‘power’ don’t recognize the problems, which are staring them in the face and have been highlighted in numerous communications.
I would suggest that all these pen pushers are ‘forced’ to spend at least a day and preferably a week in a wheelchair and/or as a carer for a disabled person, in order they can experience the issues first hand!
It is widely known that the demographics of Thanet include a high percentage of Blue Badge Holders, the elderly with mobility issues, Special Schools and Care Homes. It should also be acknowledged that access around all of the towns in Thanet is difficult due to uneven surfaces, narrow streets and uphill issues.
Unfortunately, that is the impression given by both KCC and TDC. A sad reflection on society!
It is also clear that many able bodied members of society are unaware of the threshold to be met when applying for a Blue Badge!
It will soon be winter, people won’t be sitting outside of cafes, restaurants and pubs, why do paths need to be made wider, for social distancing?
Once it gets colder, and windy, there will be less people using cycles.
Once again TDC, and KCC will find a way to help destroy any businesses.
Will the extra money gained by the council, be used once again for non disclosure agreements? Already costing more than half a million pounds to Thanet.
Welcome to the “new normal” where faceless bureaucrats will deftly redefine our lives in the quest to achieve what the pressure groups want with little or no input from the real world and those that live in it.
Yes, LOCAL CHAP, you are quite correct, the people making the decisions don’t appear to have any understanding of the ‘real world’
Amazing that the project leaders cannot or won’t see this! It is clear to the general Public!
People who smoke sit outside cafes etc all year round.
You lot need to stop trolling each other and look for solutions.
I am a taxi driver, I propose the blue badge holders should also exempt from the no vehicle rule.
Leave the disabled bays where they are.
Put cycle racks where the cash machine used to be, the pavement is wide there.
Thank you James, I really appreciate your view that the Blue Badge Holders should be exempt.
I also like your positive suggestion regarding the issues faced by the disabled. I actually made these suggestion prior to the work commencing. When this was rejected I also suggested using the spaces in Charlotte Street outside Arrowsmiths, be designated as disabled, but I received No response. I am realistic and was aware that this would result in the loss of 3 standard parking spaces, which would impact on the general public, by reducing the overall number of spaces.
Interestingly, I personally would be willing to pay to park, providing suitable spaces were provided.
I appreciate that the scheme might improve access to certain routes for you, as a taxi driver, however I still feel the entire scheme is flawed, as it moves the traffic problem to other roads. I’m trying to consider everyone.
Protect disabled people’s rights to access AND encourage cycling by allocating cycle spaces elsewhere. Cyclists are fit and better able to walk!!
Thank you Mark, someone who understands!
i think it’s funny they do this and we only have a small summer what happens in the winter oo look no cyclists only summer cyclists good planing again
A small summer? Four months at least, and a lot of cyclists cycle all year round.
Marva, I’m disappointed at your comments. The traffic issue, in common with every coastal town, occurs for a short period of the year.
You are perfectly entitled to ride your bike – I WISH MY FAMILY COULD!, even if you are not paying the RFL that motorists pay to use the roads! In fact, as you are hopefully aware, there is a coastal cycle trail, which is the route used by the majority of cyclists, especially those visiting the area during the season. I will comment that unfortunately some of these riders are ignorant, where others are thoughtful and polite.
I fail to see the rationale behind preventing the disabled, of which there are many in Broadstairs, from using a road and also removing their parking facilities in order to accommodate a few cycles.
I don’t ride a bike. And I have made no comments on the new conditions in Broadstairs. I seldom go there, and when I do, I go by bus.
What does RFl mean?
RFL not RFI
Drivers don’t pay “car tax” to fund the roads. You are mistaken.
I take your point about “Pedestrians are provided with footpaths, hence the term!”. I presume that you are completely against drivers parking on pavements?
What cycling facilities are there?
Gordon Cosby is mistaken about “RFL”. Drivers pay “Vehicle Exciae Duty”.
Roads are funded through taxation (locally via council tax, nationally by VAT, Income Tax and so on.)
We all pay for the roads, and we are all entitled to use them.
I can confirm that plenty of cyclists cycle all the year round. Perhaps more would, if the infrastructure was more encouraging.
As for the “Coastal Trail”: some is on roads, some is on shared use pavements, and some is on shared use footpaths. Absolutely none of it is on dedicated cycleways. A negative feature is that almost every time the coastal route is joined or intersected by a road or even access to a business premises, the route temporarily ends, and cyclists are instructed to dismount. Not really conducive to safety nor enjoyment.