Presentation to the Joint Transportation Board

Presentation of our petitions at the Joint Transportation Board on Monday 21 july went as well as we could possibly have hoped and the JTB supported the recommendations of a Zebra crossing for Langton Road in the area across from Rusthall village side to St Paul’s main church and a Toucan crossing (that is, for both pedestrians and cyclists) in the area around the Major York’s Road car park. It has been agreed that the next step will be to take up Greg Clark’s offer of bringing the interested parties together to see how the technical difficulties can be overcome.

Marilyn Daines – you may have seen her interview with Mary Harris in the Courier of Friday 18th July – and I spoke to support the petitions and the notes that we used in making our maximum 3 minute presentations are included below. Then Councillor Webb gave his formal support (extremely helpful) before the matter was thrown open for general discussion, which led to approval with no dissenters. Greg Clark, MP, has given his support and that has been hugely helpful in the later stages of the campaign.

A good first step, but a long way to go yet.

John Barber Joint Transportation Board Monday 21st July 2014:

  1. This year The Friends of Tunbridge Wells and Rusthall Commons developed these trails leaflets to broaden locals’ and visitors’ experience of the Commons. We were struck by the implications of the Commons being islands separated by dangerous roads with not one safe crossing on either Major York’s Road or Langton Road.
  2. The absence of crossings is NOT for want of trying over many years. In 2012 there was a locally initiated request for a crossing on Major York’s Road. Earlier this year for Langton Road it was not even a full crossing, just an island. Both were dismissed. It is great that Mount Ephraim is well served by crossings, but why do these roads get none at all? KCC’s only current criterion is safety criticality: that seems to mean that someone has to have died first. Marilyn Daines will give you details of her experience on Langton Road.
  3. Today, approaching 1500 individuals have readily supported this campaign. Many have commented to reinforce the strength of feelings about the need for crossings. It is, however, not just individuals who see the needs and benefits. Look at the range and depth of major supporters listed in the first Courier article. The Courier had itself previously identified Major York’s Road as an area for action. There was one unintended omission – Councillor Scholes is also a supporter. Let me illustrate the nature of support through the microcosm of Rusthall – Rusthall Parish Council; its two Ward Councillors; the Rusthall Village Association; the Vicar and Head Teacher. Rusthall’s support is replicated for the Pantiles’ area and wider town.
  4. These crossings are fully in line with the Council’s own thinking. The Destination Management Plan, the Green Infrastructure Plan and now the Vision are seeking to make the Town a safer and more attractive location for residents and visitors.
  5. What are we asking the JTB for?
    Firstly, we want a Zebra crossing in the area of the A264, Langton Rd, where the existing footpaths and drive could safely connect Rusthall Church and Nevill Park to Rusthall village.
    Secondly, we want a Toucan crossing in the area of the car park at the Pantiles end of Major York’s Road.
    Two points: Firstly, we are not specifying exact locations for either crossing: we recognise that they are both technically tricky sites. Secondly, we want a Toucan crossing near the Major York’s Road car park because that area is where National Cycle Route 18 comes out from the Common. The existing cycle path is shortly to be significantly improved. This will undoubtedly increase cycle volumes; indeed the enhanced awareness that it is already a cycle path across the Common is seeing volumes increase.
  6. I respectfully suggest that these crossings can be implemented by the parties involved working co-operatively to achieve the desired result for each location. Targetfollow, the owner of the Commons, is a committed supporter; our MP, Greg Clark, too. He would be happy to help facilitate a meeting to bring interested parties together. I now hope that TWBC and KCC will give their support in implementing the solution.

Marilyn Daines Speech to Joint Transportation Board, TWBC 21 July 2014

I appreciate being given this opportunity to address the meeting. I would like to put forward a uniquely personal view on the proposed installation of the pedestrian crossings as I was knocked down by a car on the Langton Road 8 years ago and was fortunate enough to survive to tell the tale.

Although it can be described as a freak accident, it wouldn’t have happened had there been a crossing in place. I feel obliged to speak out on behalf of all those who have to cross those roads, frequently or infrequently, who in doing so risk life and limb. I wouldn’t want anyone else or other family to go through what I have, or worse, for want of a crossing. Due to the accident I suffered a broken neck and permanently damaged knees. It could have been worse.

These injuries necessitated my staying in the Kent & Sussex for three months, followed by a further three months re-habilitation at the Horder Centre where I learnt to walk again. I would not have made the fantastic recovery I have without the help of the following professionals: ambulance crew, the Police, staff in Accident & Emergency, orthopaedic surgeons, anaesthetists, radiographers, doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, outpatients clinic, occupational therapist, dentist, orthodontist, aqua-therapist, psychotherapist, osteopath and acupuncturist.
It is a long and expensive list which doesn’t even touch on the other social, personal, mental, legal or financial aspects. The costs to the NHS and state are great. An accident happens in a second, the ramifications last a life-time.

I will never be able to thank the army of people who supported me and my family and encouraged me when it was difficult but I know that all of them urge you to support this proposal.