TRAFFIC CAMPAIGNS - SUCCESSES AND FAILURES

 

For Decades traffic has been a major problem through Borough Green as the A25 was the Southern Orbital  around the south of London to Dorking, for Kent Port Traffic, and connecting with the A22, A23, A24 to the South Coast, and the A3/303 to the West Country at Guildford.

This was aggravated by the large numbers of HGVs operating out of the local quarries, sandpits, and brick and tile works, compounded by the North to South A227 trunk route between Gravesend and Tonbridge before 7 Mile Lane was upgraded.

 

In 1978 the problem eased with the opening of the M26, taking a lot of the West Country bound traffic away from the A25, but traffic levels soon returned to previous levels.

 

In the 1980s a scheme was proposed by Borough Green & Platt Parishes, H+H Celcon, and KCC to connect the eastern end of the Ightham Bypass at Darkhill with the Western end of the Wrotham Bypass near Wrotham School, and in 1991 KCC issued a planning permission for the scheme, but was unable to find funding.

At the same time quarrying at Isles and Stangate finished, and a contract to landfill London waste was signed, and a new Haul Rd was built from Quarry Hill Rd to Darkhill, a new roundabout installed with a new entrance to H+H Celcon, a new wide bridge to carry the railway line built in 1992, and the base of the "Borough Green & Platt Bypass" was laid through the newly landfilled Ightham Sandpit using hassock from Stangate and Isles Quarries.

                           OLD BRIDGE                                                                                  NEW BRIDGE

What was unknown at the time was that many thousands of tonnes of that hassock, used as hardcore, disappeared and was replaced with toxic waste from the remediation of the BP Isle of Grain Terminal and Greenwich Gas Works at Blackwall. Site investigations in 2006 discovered over 200,000 tonnes of buried waste. (REPORT)

 

In 2006 H+H Celcon lodged a planning application for a new Factory in Ightham Sandpit with funding for the new Bypass as a planning gain. Permission was granted by KCC, but the application was called to a Planning Inquiry in 2007 where it was eventually discovered that KCC had failed to legally commence the application and it lapsed. Celcon withdrew their plan and the offer, and the scheme lapsed.

                       2005 KCC ELECTION CAMPAIGN SIGNS

During these years BG and Platt Parishes had been virtually at war with Wrotham and Ightham. At the collapse of the "Bypass"  Inquiry "peace talks" were held to try and repair that damage, and the Parish Alliance was born, its first aim to establish a scheme for full slip roads at Junction 5 M25 at Sevenoaks so the M26 would become Bypass for Platt, Borough Green, Ightham, Wrotham, Seal, Bat & Ball and Riverhead. A few influential wealthy landowners in the Chipstead area managed to persuade MP Michael Fallon to block all efforts, and so the scheme languished until he was caught with his trousers down a few years later, and resigned.

 

Whilst this had been happening, the Borough Green Traffic Action Group (BG-TAG) was formed and through a combination of lobbying and demonstrations were able to start getting KCC to spend money on traffic management in the village. The first success was the speed camera on the A227 in 2003, followed by zebra crossings at the Station Approach, Western Rd and the Red Lion junction, and a full 30mph from Askew to Darkhill followed in 2009 by the crossing in the High St.

 

In 2008 KCC Leader Paul Carter made a cap in hand visit to the Parish Annual meeting, and told a packed village hall that he pledged in excess of £250k towards a new Bypass planning application. As the Bypass would only get built from mass housing development, which would waste any traffic improvements, we refused and demanded the money should be spent on road improvements on the A25 and A227, and so BG-TAG and the Parishes drafted the 2009 "9 Point Plan". This asked for changes in the speed limits through the villages to a continuous 30mph, conversion of Zebra Crossings to Traffic Light controlled, and a scheme to slow traffic on the A25, in particular between Long Mill Lane and the Esso.

     letter to Paul Carter 2012                   Response from Paul Carter                     30mph Askew to Darkhill Order

 

In 2013 the Parish Alliance also met with H+H Celcon and other local operators and agreed several voluntary schemes that actually started to slow down HGV traffic, and those pesky trucks became rolling road blocks slowing traffic. That was working well until the original honourable management at H+H changed, and new profit hungry management took over, scrapping all the agreements, and reneging on the £10k pledge for traffic management. They now refuse to intervene on what they say is a matter between their subcontractors and the Police, not their responsibility, aggravated by the Police refusing to carry our speed checks, we have even lost the occasional KMSCP Camera Van from the A227.

 

Most of these changes have been slowly implemented, including the new crossings at Platt and Wrotham Schools, a Speed Indicator Device opposite Crowhill Rd, the Red Lion Roundabout, and the Darkhill 40mph extension is on track for this year.

 

The original plan for the A25 Maidstone Rd was to be chicanes at Minters Orchard and Brockway, which would have made two pinch points but remaining just wide enough for two HGVs to pass carefully. But then KCC came up with a new experimental scheme that saw the white lines removed, and the road narrowed by widening the pavement. This was supposed to slow drivers down by tricking their minds into believing the road was narrower than it actually was. Unfortunately, this new "narrow road" was still 1.5 to 2 mtrs wider than existing bits of the A25 near the crossroads, and so the only effect it had on traffic can only be assessed on speed surveys, the actual slowing is too small for the human eye to see. And even worse it now makes the pavement wide enough for selfish drivers to park illegally on the pavement, forcing pedestrians to walk in the road.

         A25 Chicane Plan            A25 Road Narrowing Plan             2014 Speed Survey           2017 Speed Survey

   Nisa Crossing Installation                                                                Rec Crossing Conversion to Traffic Light Controlled

 

We have spoken strongly to KCC about allowing the Parishes to install our own Speed Indicator Devices, but even if we use a KCC Approved Contractor, they will not allow us to install the Devices we want in the places we want, and have tried to fob us off with small battery powered signs that only flash the speed, and we would have only one sign for several different sites on an alternating basis, as in Offham Village.

 

We have also had ongoing arguments with the Kent & Medway Camera Safety Partnership, but they flatly refuse to install more than one camera per village

 

Whilst we know that average speeds on the A25 are in excess of 35mph, with some 15% of vehicles travelling even faster than that up to 70mph, KCC refuse point blank to put any further money into the scheme, despite ongoing often heated and confrontational meeting. They believe their primary responsibility is the free flow of traffic, with pedestrian safety coming a very poor second.

WE HAVE FOUGHT FOR OVER 20 YEARS, WE WILL NOT BE GIVING UP ANYTIME SOON

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2002 - 2005 Regular Street Demonstrations demanding Pedestrian Crossings, Traffic Management and our Beloved Bypass

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