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Nowangry Shepway to take action over traffic

A PETITION calling for a relief road is to be compiled by Shepway resi- dents in a bid to stop its narrow lanes being used as rat-runs by lorries. Local people have noticed a

sharp increase in the number of HGVs, trucks and cars using the area to avoid the clogged Sutton Road andWillington Street. With house-building on the in-

crease and plans for 1,300 new homes near Langley likely to go ahead, they fear there will be even more pressure on the area. A 900- signature petitionwas gathered be- fore the Shepway south by-election in favour of a relief road to help Maidstone’s traffic woes. Nowresidents in Shepway north

are to be given the opportunity to put their names to a similar list. Conservative Cllr Marion Ring (pictured), a Shepway resident of 30 years and life-long Maidstone resident, says the traffic issues have become much worse of late. The Westmorland Road resident said:“We’re getting loads of lorries coming down thisway. This estate was built for families; it was never built as a major route and certainly for the number and size of vehicles we’re seeing cut through here. We’ve got to the point now thatwe won’t let go. There has got to be some solution.

for by-pass THERE are currently three routes on the table for a relief road from Langley to the A20 junction.

Shepway residentMarion Ring says HGV drivers use Shepway as rat run “I remember that you could

jump on the bus and it would take about 15 minutes to get into the centre of Maidstone. “These days, with all the traffic,

it takes about 45 minutes. The by- pass or relief road is now critical.” Cllr David Burton, the borough council’s head of planning, said that a by-pass in the south of the town linking to the motorway is the most “logical piece of infra- structure” to help the borough

Roads and housing | News Get militant,

says resident LAST month, we reported how vil- lagers in Leeds are prepared to “get militant” if the authorities drag their heels over traffic issues in the village. Borough councillor Gill Fort says

residents are planning action to highlight the problems huge vol- umes of vehicle movements have on everyday life. Apart from the daily traffic, vil-

lagers are growing increasingly fed up with HGVs flouting a lorry ban, speeding, reckless driving, hit-and- run prangs and aggressive, foul- mouthed conduct by some drivers. Cllr Fort said: “There is growing

anger among people here and they are threatening to get mili- tant. I cannot and will not con- done anything illegal, but I can understand why he thinks that way.”

cope with its traffic. Ukip spokesman and fellow borough councillor Eddie Powell backs pub- lic concerns but questions govern- ment commitment. He added: “In the great scheme

of things, a Leeds-Langley relief road is hardly high up on the gov- ernment’s agenda, is it? “This has been talked and talked

about for 20 years and nothing has happened. Why should something happen now?”

Upper Street resident Robert Jackson (38) said: “We’re very happy living in Leeds but the traf- fic is horrendous now. There is meant to be a lorry ban which doesn’t get enforced and people speed to get through ahead of on- coming traffic. “It’s dangerous. My car has

been hit four times this year and nobody stopped. We’ve had enough and I know that quite a fewpeople feel the same - not just here but in Langley, Otham and even Sutton Valence.”

Three options ‘Let’s get on with relief road’ According to information seen

by Downs Mail, all routes would start on or near the Penfold bridge after the main entrance to Leeds Castle, and proceed around the village. Option 1 (East): From Penfold Hill, the route would skirt along Burberry Lane and into wood- land close to Langley and then on to or near the FiveWents cross- roads. Option 2 (West): From Penfold Hill, the route would veer right around Leeds, over Forge Lane and possibly on to Back Street, emerging at the junction at or close to Horseshoes Lane. Option 3 (East andwest): This route will form an ‘S’ shape, fol- lowing thewest route initially before emerging at the Langley end of Burberry Lane and pick- ing up the end of the east route and emerging at or near the Five Wents crossroads.

A LEEDS-Langley relief road op- tion should be chosen sooner rather than later and “get on with it”, according to the borough coun- cil’s transport chief. Cllr David Burton, the lead on

road and planning matters, is con- fident the estimated £30-50m cost of a by-pass can be met through developer contributions, contrac- tual obligations and central fund- ing pots. There are currently three options

on the table for a south east Maid- stone relief road and currently being discussed by the authorities which make up the Joint Trans- portation Board (JTB). All would start in or around the

Penfold bridge near the entrance to Leeds Castle and variously emerge near or on the A274 at Langley or FiveWents. In a frank interview with Downs

Mail, Cllr Burton said: “My fixed view is to pick one of them and get on with it.” He acknowledged that with a house-building programme of 18,000 new houses by 2031, a route to take traffic out of Willington

Cllr David Barton

Street, parts of Shepway, Otham and Leeds is the “most logical piece of infrastructure”. The system across “will just

about cope” until there is a hiccup, he said. Cllr Burton said: “Having a by-

pass through the south east puts some resilience into the network.

“I do believe it will happen. For

the first time, we have the county council, the highways authority and the planning authority all talk- ing about the same thing posi- tively. “I think we are in a much better position to see the delivery sooner rather than later.” To pay for the relief road, devel-

opers must make a “substantial” contribution towards the infra- structure as well as government money and other “pockets” of cash, said Cllr Burton. He added: “It is a big challenge

but I believe it is achievable. When we talk about a relief road, it is ex- actly that. “For instance, the new gyratory system delivers 20% capacity to get vehicles through the town but the demands continue to grow. There are other smaller piecemeal im- provements, too. “If you have the new relief road

from the south to the motorway, the effects would be felt as far away as Yalding. All these ingredi- ents working together will get the best outcome for Maidstone.”

Maidstone Weald December 2016 25

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