Kent county councillor Emma Dawson has written to the leader and cabinet of KCC and North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale to ask for the immediate removal of a new one way system installed in Westgate this week.
Kent County Council has introduced the system from the top of Roxburgh Road, into Station Road and finishing at the end of Station Road, outside the off-licence.
The aim is to widen the pedestrian area so people can pass each other while maintaining social distancing. Planters have been installed to mark out the pedestrian area.
The scheme is one of several implemented across the county as part of the government’s push for ‘active travel’ in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. This aims to encourage people to walk and cycle rather than use cars or public transport.
Yesterday (September 17) several issues arose as buses and lorries struggled to get around the junction to St Mildred’s from Station Road.
The bollards were altered this morning but problems continue.
Cllr Dawson posted to social media today saying: “At 11am, after the alterations, I witnessed a bus attempting to swing out, finding it extremely difficult to navigate. The bus was almost onto the opposite side of the road – front end almost on the opposite path. Oncoming vehicles also coming over the bridge and pedestrians were trying to cross.
“There are now extremely high chances of accidents as the roads are congested with buses passing each other, lorries trying to unload and other heavy vehicles also using the road. Many heavy vehicles cannot make the turn out of Station Road easily and have to turn right and then make a U turn and come back.
“I’ve spoken with many of the traders today too, they are very concerned about their businesses – normal footfall/sales have already noticeably reduced. It is early days but even a week of slow business can have a major effect – especially post covid. Businesses that have disabled customers are not able to accommodate close parking due to the new temporary infrastructure outside their shops. In the coming weeks or months this will have an impact on all of those businesses.
“We can ask residents to shop local but if they can’t, then they will go elsewhere. The majority of Westgate’s residents are elderly and this has to be taken into consideration when asking people to cycle into the town area.
“It’s only been a few days since the new system has been put in place, but residents have seen traffic going up Station Road the wrong way and delivery lorries blocking the roads. Elderly pedestrians are finding it hard to cross the road, especially St Mildred’s Road as this is now far busier, especially near the bridge.
“The uniqueness of Westgate has been significantly altered. The planters are heavy wooden boxes, bland and unsightly with surrounding bollards, completely changing the character of the lovely Victorian town. Westgate is a conservation area. Planning for additional changes has always been subject to strict criteria.
“The monstrosity of the design is not welcome by many Westgate residents.
“We have started to see the trial in action and I would imagine that highways will keep tweaking the design over time but I feel improvements will not actually prevent the issues that the one way system faces.
“I believe that a decision has to be made to remove it immediately. The overwhelming consensus from traders is to remove the scheme. We need to remove it before it is set in concrete as you will see more added features over time and then there will be no room to reject it.
“Today I have written to highways officials and KCC leader & cabinet member, our local MP Sir Roger Gale and requested the scheme is immediately removed.”
The 18 month trial scheme was enacted under an ‘experimental traffic order, meaning the authority did not have to carry out consultation.
If a proposal is made to make the scheme permanent, then a formal 12 week public consultation will take place
People can comment on the changes by emailing email@example.com
No keep it, the one way system is far better. It needs time for others to get used to it. It’s made the area have a much better feel to it. and it’s safer.
How is it safer? Buses having to manage the bridge end to go towards Canterbury direction
Buses have always managed in the past… one of the ‘8’ Canterbury double dockers runs that route daily for a long as i can remember… why is it now people saying they can’t make the turn lol
I agree, so far so good, though there are bound to be teething problems (such as people not noticing huge “No Entry” signs) for a while.
I do wonder why buses even have to go through Roxburgh Road and Station Road. It would be better to just go along Westgate Bay Avenue and St. Mildred’s Road, the same as the buses in the opposite direction… oh, and move the temporary bus stop to outside the butchers so that buses don’t hold up the traffic.
I hate the wooden boxes! The are completely out of character for our town.
They’Will be OK once they’re full of flowers. Far better than just concrete bollards.
Nobody will look after them .There are smaller planters in the Town they are just used as ash trays.
You are obviously an able bodied person and cannot understand why public transport and it’s close proximity to shops is vital!
I say keep it, it’s alot safer for people crossing and it’s a nice change, once it is all complete. People just don’t like change that’s what it the problem. I agree with a comment above tho the buses don’t really need to go through Westgate town they could just come along Westgate Bay ave and then turn into the Carlton road and then straight up and over the bridge much easier and safer for the drivers. So yes I vote keep.
Typical knee jerk reaction, give it time to bed in!!
Yes I agree Peter, once plants are in the boxes they will lovely, I also agree about the buses going around the other way.
From my experience getting the 8, not many people get on or off along that stretch so might aswell have it go along the back way and that would solve that issue
Looking forward to seeing buses using both sides of the road to turn onto a hump backed bridge “bedding in”…
They won’t be turning onto a humpback bridge if they just use St. Mildred’s Road (as the Margate-bound bus has done for years).
Well if there was some consultation then these so called teething issues could have been dealt with and a scheme more suitable for everyone come up with. KCC should have changed the bus stop to behind these odd looking planters in the road then it would not have to travel down the shopping street (I don’t know the road names round there) and make a dangerous manouervre to towrds the bridge. KCC highways engineers should have foreseen that expecting lorries and buses to make sharp turns to the left onto a bridge where they have to use the opposite carriageway that vehicles coming in the opposite direction would meet at the brow of the hill would be a danger to both parties. When the report was made earlier this week with images of the planters it was easy to see that this would be a safety problem. Why does KCC insist on making dangerous alterations to previously made safe junctions ?
In the Margate scheme the taxi driver told me if you drive along King St to pick up a fare you find yourself unable to continue, with no entry signs and one way streets facing you, you have nowhere to legally and safely go. Are you supposed to reverse out onto a busy road he asked.
The Broadstairs scheme has equally buggered up the freeflow with silly bus gates so vehicles also have to try and do uturns in narrow deadend roads. What is the reason there, the road is still the same narrow width and now pedestrians falsely think it is safe to walk in the road with traffic still coming through.
I think to bugger up what worked the best for everyone to implement crazy schemes just to get funding from central government without any consultation is madness. Even though it is a trial, 18 months is too long to cause havoc when the streets are already gridlocked. The only sensible thing I see about it is the 20 MPH limits in narrow roads.
The buses going in that direction have always had to turn onto the humpback bridge (this isn’t just a new thing because of the changes). The only difference now is that it’s even more awkward because of the planters wrongly placed.
The whole scheme is a debarcal get rid of it!
Until this woke mess of politically correct traffic management was put in I would regularly shop in the Westgate station area. Now I have to find a new optician, hardware store and greengrocers. Why do I shop in Westgate when I live in Cliftonville? Simple – it’s quiet an civilised.
Well done Emma Dawson for saying what residents want.
And what’s stopping you from jumping on a bus from Cliftonville to Westgate?
Some people are happy being miserable the only change they like is the change rattling about in their pockets .
Of course you need lots of room to socially distance outside the funeral directors and an empty shop.
It’s as bad as the stupid one way reversed system in Margate old town and a road closed off where nobody needs to distance.
Step it up a notch if you don’t like it and protest at the busiest time and cause as much disruption as possible.
Why fix something that isn’t broken? It was fine how it was. Just another waste of the tax payers money.
It was fine for motorists. It wasn’t so fine for pedestrians and cyclists.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE the new one way system in Westgate. Feels much nicer and safer to shop there now. I hope they keep it
Think it’s a great idea, hopefully put a stop to people double parking to just run into the shops and completely blocking up the traffic.Buses would be better going along Westgate bay both ways and not using station road.Think the planters will look great when done.Dont see why local residents would object, surely shopping local is far better when walking not driving?