Friday, 25 May 2012

Letters to the Courier and pedestrianisation

One letter writer in this week’s Courier claims that pedestrianising Tonbridge High Street would cause traffic chaos. Not so. A UK study which looked at more than 100 locations has established that reducing road space can actually lead to ‘traffic evaporation’. Traffic which previously used the road which is now closed is not found in nearby streets: it has ‘evaporated’ as people increasingly walk, cycle and use public transport for journeys which they would previously have made by car – or re-evaluate whether or not they really need to make this particular journey.

 A summary of the report can be found here: or read more in this report:

Another correspondent believes that market towns deteriorate when pedestrianised. This is contradicted by many studies. To quote one: ‘Although the evidence for the positive effects of pedestrianisation on trade has existed for over a decade, such schemes are often resisted by traders who are concerned that their levels of trade may be significantly affected.”  See the report, ’The impact of pedestrianisation on Taunton Town Centre: a retail perspective’ at

Saturday, 19 May 2012

West Kent and the religion of the car.

It is an article of faith amongst councils in West Kent that every effort must be made to accommodate the car. Pedestrians, cyclists and public transport all take second place to keeping cars moving along our road network,
To that end Kent County Council and West Kent politicians robustly promote the dualling of the A21. In doing so they ignore the experience of the rest of the country and research which shows that building roads does not relieve congestion, it simply encourages more car journeys.

Remember the roads protests of the 1990s? The Newbury bypass was strongly opposed by protestors camping out in beautiful countryside which has now disappeared – and what for?

The Highways Agency and the councils involved commissioned a traffic study five years after the bypass was built: the result building the bypass had attracted additional traffic which used to use alternative routes. 

In consultant speak ‘the primary response to this scheme has been re-assignment from other strategic routes serving the southern part of England’. The public enquiry into the bypass had underestimated the traffic increases which would result from building the bypass: a common error at such enquiries. Read the full report at:

’Building new roads really does create extra traffic' is an academic report which confirms  that new roads soon fill up because they simply attract more traffic.The report can be found at:

We really don’t need to spend more than £100 million on dualling which will provide no long term benefit. Instead we should be spending the money on more cycling routes, repairing pavements and even filling in some of the many potholes on Kent’s roads.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Water water everywhere – leaking from the pipes

Now we know what we always suspected: privatised water companies care more about profits than they do about conserving water.

There we are as individual householders doing our best to save hundreds of litres of water: my three water butts hold just over 200 litres each. At the same time the water companies are losing 3.4 billion litres a day, about a quarter of all water supplied. Southern Water, which covers the area where I live, is the worst sinner. It missed its latest leakage target by 16% and will now be allowed to INCREASE leakage by 6% by 2015.

I can’t think of a better argument for taking our water supply back into public ownership – or even collective ownership in a social enterprise cooperative.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Tories just don’t get pedestrianisation

Our local paper, the Courier, has printed an eye-catching artist’s impression of what Tonbridge High Street could look life if it were pedestrianised. Residents who were shown the picture at the St George’s Day Parade earlier this month were impressed: our Councillors, interviewed by the newspaper, not so much.
There is a complete lack of any vision or forward thinking at Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council.
Pedestrianisation would –
  • Make the High Street more attractive and encourage more people to stroll along it
  • Increase footfall for local traders
  • Enable the Council to put the Saturday Market and the Famers’ Market in the town centre where they belong
  • Allow a cafe culture to be created on the High Street
  • Create a real buzz of excitement and community spirit
Short journeys by car in particular to town centres have lots of disadvantages including high fuel use. See the Green choices web site for more:

Walking is good for your health. Amongst other things it can reduce blood pressure and help protect against diabetes. See the walkit web site for more:

But Tory councillors in Tonbridge and Malling just don’t get it. They would rather continue to worship the car.