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Bus boss calls for thought on roadworks

THE owner of a Maidstone bus company has asked KCC to be more considerate when scheduling road closures. The number of temporary road closures

has risen dramatically since KCC introduced the Kent Permit Scheme, whereby contrac- tors are required to get approval from KCC – and pay a levy – to carry out road repairs . Although the scheme was devised to streamline roadworks and ensure several small projects on one stretch of carriageway could be completed in one “hit”, the effect has actually led to more road closures, ac- cording to Norman Kemp, of bus company Nu-Venture. Mr Kemp (pictured) claimed that in the

past, drivers may have “muddled through” while potholes were filled or minor works carried out, but the increased health and safety requirements have led to more bu- reaucracy – and more road closures. While Mr Kemp appreciates that the work

has to be done and the legislation is there for a purpose, he says his customers, however, generally blame the buseswhen they are late – or fail to turn up – because of traffic di- versions. Mr Kemp said: “Whilst we do our best to advise passengers of forthcoming disrup- tion, it is not always possible – especially in rural areas where people are used towaiting at the end of their drive for a bus. Often the diversion can be some distance away and they will have no knowledge of it. “At other times, the dates are changed at

short notice, leaving us little or no time to give our passengers advanced warning.” The latest in a long line of closures is due

to affect Horseshoes Lane in Langley for up to three days from December 18, when

Mervyn Lambert Plant Ltdwill be replacing overhead power cables. The closure will affect the A274 from Sut-

ton Road to Heath Road, with the alternate route being via Sutton Road and the B2163 Leeds Road. ButMr Kemp pointed out that if the proj-

ectwas deferred by just a few days, itwould cause much less disruption as the schools would have broken up. He said: “The various ad-hoc closures of

this road in recent weeks have proved to be very disruptive to local bus routes. “It would be most helpful and sensible if

this further closure could be scheduled after the end of the school term [December 20], when there will be less pressure on the local bus services which use this road.” “I abhor the prospect of leaving adults waiting in vain for a bus which does not turn up, but the thought of small children trying to get to and from school and missing their bus is even worse.” Mr Kemp, who has written to KCC, added:

“We are going to have to get used to living with a level of uncertainty and unreliability. At least when there is snow, people antici- pate problems.However, nobody could have foreseen this huge paper chase emanating from KCC.”

KCC’s permit system ‘ground-breaking’

A SPOKESMAN for KCC said: “KCC introduced the ground- breaking Kent Permit Scheme two years ago, which requires companies to apply for permission to dig up a road. This allows the county council to manage and co-or- dinate works – getting firms to work at the same time in- stead of digging holes sepa- rately –minimising jams and

delays suffered by motorists and other road users.”

Kent is one of only two places to operate a “lane rental scheme” which pro- vides an incentive for compa- nies to scheduleworks at the least inconvenient times – such as during the night or outside school holidays.

The spokesman said: “Traf- fic reduces by 20% in school

holidays, so the cost of carry- ing out works then is lower than at other times, as it is for work carried out during the night.

“Obviously, utility compa-

nies have a legal obligation to respond to an emergency, so this is beyond our control – but they do have to apply retrospectively for the neces- sary permissions.”




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