Goudhurst, Kent. A Wealden hill village

Highways & Footpaths Committee June

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HIGHWAYS & FOOTPATHS COMMITTEE

Minutes of a Meeting held on 25 June 2019 at the Jessel Room, Goudhurst

Present: Cllrs David Boniface (Chairman), Alan Foster, David Knight and Peter Wood. 

Also Mr Bob Gibbs and Mrs Helen Sampson representatives the Goudhurst Traffic Action Group (GTAG)

Apologies were accepted from: Cllr Guy Sutton.   Also Mr Colin Wilson (GTAG).

Declarations of Interest.  None.

1. a. A21 Speed Limit/Crash Frequency Reduction – agree next steps

i. Introduction to the DfT 2013 Circular “Setting Local Speed Limits” (SLSL)

Chairman Highways Committee (CHC) and Mr Ted Bennett gave a summary of this Circular and its approach to speed limits and also described the accompanying software called Speed Limit Appraisal Tool (SLAT).  

The 2013 Circular represented a change in Highways England and the Government’s approach to setting speed limits in that it seriously took account of the impact of traffic speeds on local communities and vulnerable road users.  DB referred to section 7 of the document entitled “Rural Speed Management”  so for example:

• 60mph in referring to single carriageway roads (Table 2) is recommended for most high quality, strategic A and B class roads with few bends, few junctions and few accesses.  

• 50mph is recommended for lower quality A and B class roads that may have a relatively high number of bends, junctions or accesses. 50mph may also be considered where mean speeds are below 50mph so that introducing the lower limit does not interfere with traffic flow. 

• 40mph should be considered where there are many bends, junctions or accesses, substantial development, a strong environmental or landscape reason, or where there are considerable numbers of vulnerable road users.  

Nonetheless, the document is primarily concerned with collision frequency rather than collision severity – ie the impact of the crash on vehicle occupants is not given very much attention and this factor seems to be behind what governs the tendency to say that speed limit reductions should only be agreed if all sorts of engineering and other activities have failed to reduce the crash frequency. The fact that people live along the road and that they are frightened by the speed of the traffic is not a factor that is taken into account.  Also, the fact that if a person is injured in a collision or crash, the severity of the injury sustained is not taken into consideration, unless the person is killed. The document considers community factors, environmental factors and vulnerable road users – but does not attach sufficient importance or significance to these factors.  For example, vulnerable road users such as walkers are considered –  but how is this assessed?  It is too dangerous to walk along the A21 (the traffic is too fast flowing)  – and so how can the demand for walking be assessed? Unless a pavement or cycleway is created it is almost impossible to assess the need for walking or cycling. Ted Bennett also gave a summary of the DfT 2013 circular and drew attention to various paragraphs and sections.  In particular to Section 3 – he noted that the full range of speed management measures should all be considered before a new speed limit is introduced. He set out six headings under which evaluation should be carried out.  He noted that the types of crashes, their severity (death or not death/ injury or not injury) and their frequency would normally be taken into account.  Paragraph 20 shows a palpable reluctance to accept that number plate recognition with average speed checks has a beneficial effect on speeding traffic even though every motorist knows from experience that they are extremely effective. 

ii. Correspondence with Mr Colin Evans (CE) of Highways England (HE)

The letters from Colin Evans dated 25/4/2019 and 18/6/2019 respectively were briefly summarised. The 25/4/2019 letter starts:  “I am concerned that you may think that Highways England is not doing anything to improve safety on the A21 but that is not the case”. He goes on to say that HE is considering a number of schemes and treatments and measures on the A21 between the Scotney roundabout and further south to the border with E. Sussex just north of Hastings.  However, due to budget pressures etc there is no particular date in when these measures might be implemented.  However he is keen to progress fresh signage and lineage which could be helpful for the Goudhurst section of the A21. He reports that the HE Service Provider called Aone+ has been asked to do a speed survey on the A21 between Bewl Water and Rosemary Lane asap.  He has offered to share the results of this survey with us when he receives the analysis of the data. Should excess speed prove to be present, he has offered to take this up with Kent Police and ask for more enforcement activity. Limited analysis of crashes suggests that alcohol and drug impairment in drivers is a factor. He may ask Kent Police to do more enforcement of drink-driving. He goes on to say that he is involved in partnerships with other organisations to improve driver behaviour regarding drinking, speeding, close following etc. Ted Bennett replied to this letter and CE responded to it on 18/6/2019.  CE mentions that he now has the data from the speed survey. It can be analysed in conjunction with crash and casualty data to see whether reducing the speed limit would be an appropriate measure.  He reiterated the 2013 Circular philosophy that before speed reductions are considered quite a large number of other factors have to be taken into account including other possible changes to do with engineering and road geometry etc.  He mentions that he is pressing hard for funding to make safety changes to this and other sections of the A21.  He reports that both Kent and Sussex Police have indicated that they would not provide the required resource to enforce any reduced speed limit on the A21 section in question.  Therefore he is concerned that even if the speed limit was reduced and the required signage and markings put in and the traffic regulation order produced and formally agreed,  it is likely that nothing would actually change in terms of the speed vehicles are currently travelling on this section,  meaning that a speed limit reduction is not the most appropriate intervention. 

Proposed action following receipt to the above letters:  Chairman suggested that GPC thank CE for the work that he has carried out so far.  We will request a copy of the speed survey and his official crash frequency data. Thank him for the already planned schemes and reviews on the A21 that may have a beneficial effect on this section of the road.  We should query his concern that lowering the speed limit would have no effect on the speed of vehicles. Note: Ask CE what is the evidence for this.  Also support CE’s statement that he will ask Kent Police and the safety engineers from their service provider Aone+ to see if they consider it appropriate to reduce the speed limit.  Furthermore, it was agreed with Ted Bennett, that with the letter we would forward his completion of information under the six categories of the 2013 Circular and ask that these factors be taken fully into account.  

iii. Ted Bennett’s completion of the six categories required by SLSL.

This document was considered. It is a seven page document but Councillors had had time to look through it and a few comments were made.  Generally it was thought to be rather long and it might be in order to tidy it up a little.  Chairman agreed (ACTION) to go through it in detail and make some suggestions. Also the latest addition to it – information about public footpaths which emerge onto and cross the A21 in the relevant section of this road are being added by Mr Ted Bennett and will be forward to Members of this Committee.  A particularly helpful suggestion was that the conclusion be set at the beginning of the document so that anyone reading it has an idea of how to understand the information it contains. 

iv. Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) document:

https://www.rospa.com/rospaweb/docs/advice-services/road-safety/drivers/inappropriate-speed.pdf

There is a particularly interesting point in this document which Chairman highlighted which is that for every 1mph reduction in average speed limit on rural single carriageway main roads – a 3% reduction in crash frequency can be expected. 

v. Decisions – How to move forward TB and GPC?

This will move forward by Parish Council writing to Colin Evans as discussed earlier enclosing Ted Bennett’s updated document.

There was a discussion re exact aim of residents living on this section of the A21. Are they interested only in the lower speed limit because it is the speed of the traffic which frightens and concerns them the most and because they see speed as being the cause of the accidents? Alternatively, if ways could be found to reduce the number of accidents through signage and engineering measures, would that be satisfactory? In which case would the residents no longer want a speed limit reduction?  This is not entirely clear.  Residents see speed as being the main cause of the accidents, but some doubts have been raised by Colin Evans as to whether that is true. 

A question also arose as to whether the DfT or Highways England pay attention to the costs of dealing with accidents (i.e. costs of calling out an ambulance, helicopter, cost of taking people to hospital or costs of damages to vehicles, etc).  This is not clear. It is probably true, however, that whenever there is a crash and the road has to be closed, so that journey times are lengthened between Tunbridge Wells and Hastings, this is in a sense a cost to HE because HE’s aim is to speed up traffic links between important economic areas. Chairman agreed (ACTION) that the letter to Colin Evans would be requesting a reduction to the speed limit from 60mph to 40mph, setting aside therefore what is thought to be the realistic potential outcome which would be a reduction to 50mph, with engineering improvements. 

  1. b. Reported Table from SLATS User Guide This shows the average reduction in collisions on rural single carriageway corresponding to various speed limit reductions:

12% reduction in collisions following reduction from 60mph to 50mph, 22% reduction in collisions corresponding to reduction from 60mph to 40mph. 

Although there is not much reliability in the 22% figure, though the 12% is reliable. However, there are estimates in other parts of the SLAT document that the likely reduction in the average speed of traffic would be slight –  from 42.8% currently to 40.7  – a reduction of only 2.1 miles per hour following reduction to speed limit from 60mph to 40mph. 

  1. c. Ted Bennett’s suggested revised aims of campaign? – see discussion in 1.a(v) above. 
  1. d. National A-Road Crash Data (Cllr Wood)

Peter Wood had obtained an Excel spreadsheet showing that frequencies of collisions throughout England reported on motorways, A-class trunk roads, A-class principal roads, all A-class roads, minor roads and totally, the number of accidents,  it appeared that Kent had a particularly  large number of collisions, although this had not been evaluated in relation to the number of miles of roads or amount of traffic flow carried on these roads. So the data is only somewhat helpful. 

  1. e. Ted Bennett’s final DfT 2013 evaluation document – see discussion in 1.a(iii) above
  1. f.  Advice from Cllr Charles Mackonochie (Capel PC and KALC). At Cllr Mackonochie’s attendance at the last Highways Committee meeting he mentioned that Capel residents had made informal road signs – e.g. signs stating how many crashes there had been on this road during the previous 12 months. These could be put up by residents and made to look as formal as possible and might well remain in place for many months before they are removed. This can be considered. GTAG representatives present said that they may be able to assist with this. 
  1. g. Goudhurst Parish Council’s commissioned traffic speed/frequency survey – no longer relevant, already done – see above.

2. A262 Downgrade

a.Formal response to KCC from GPC. 

Chairman summarised the KCC response to the GPC application for the downgrading of the A262 through Goudhurst.  As yet, no formal reply has been sent. Certainly the aim of the reply is to express disappointment in the stated main reason for refusal.  This was that because we proposed the M20 as part of the alternative route to the Chanel ports for large HGVs from Tunbridge Wells and considered that this refusal was irrational.  The response could suggest that KCC asked HE for an exception to be made in this case.  Cllrs at a previous meeting had suggested that we could engage help from local MPs, engage other villages along the A262 and possibly requesting a general relaxation for the A262 of this rule due to the particular nature of the problems experienced in Goudhurst.  An important point is that here is an important lack of  east-west routes across the middle of Kent and the M20 should be allowed to play a part in dealing with that problem. Chairman agreed to prepare an initial draft of a formal response.  Chairman also offered to send a .pdf version of the formal report supporting GPC’s application to GTAG representatives (ACTIONS = DB). 

b.Involve M.Ps, other villages, Highways England – see above.

  c. Developments in Sean Holden’s HGV control plan.

Chairman reported Cllr Sean Holden’s latest developments on his Kent-wide HGV control plan and stated that this was now based on trying to achieve a London-type authority for Kent County Council (KCC) to control moving traffic. This would make it possible to take advantage of funding for number-plate recognition cameras being provided in anticipation of Brexit problems with the M20 and the ports. 

d. Lorry Watch – technical aid A height sensor with camera for photos.

The technical aid – a height sensor with camera which would automatically photograph vehicles above a certain height had been suggested by a number of people recently. This was of much interest to the GTAG representatives.  They have volunteered to be involved with Lorry Watch. We have been told by Fiona Paine (KCC) that the Police would be pleased to get involved since these very long lorries would have passed signs advising them not to come through Goudhurst. This implies that by then continuing on and coming through Goudhurst indicates bad driver behaviour which the Police would be keen to take up with the owners of the responsible haulage companies.

e. Applying for permission for raised platform across High Street 

Neil Edwards (Senior Traffic Officer from KCC Kent Highways KCC) had offered to help with some of the traffic calming measures that we wanted but which had been denied in view of the A-road status of the A262 and in particular we could apply for permission for a raised pedestrian platform across the High Street (roughly opposite the Antique shop) which was specifically not allowed on an A-road.  Neil Edwards would try to find a way to help to get this through and move it forward. This would be an expensive project to implement but little cost would be involved in getting permission for it. 

3. GPC Highways KCC Future Plans (Fiona Paine)

a.Proposed parking restrictions on High St and West Rd 

Following a request from GPC, Fiona Paine had made proposals for parking restrictions on the High Street and West Road – running from the Pond towards the west as far as Clay Cottages.  

b. Other points in Fiona Paine’s letter

The contents of this letter had been given a full airing at the recent full GPC meeting and would be central to the work of the newly formed High Street Committee which is being set up by the GPC Chairman.  Therefore this will not be discussed at this meeting due to running short of time.

4. Speed Limit reductions requested for Iden Green and Green Cross Inn areas

a.Iden Green Village designation (Peter Wood)

http://www.ukroads.org/webfiles/TAL 1-04 Village Speed Limits.pdf

The DfT’s2004 advisory leaflet ‘Village Speed Limits’ determines that 20+ residences on the frontage of a road extending over 600+ metres is sufficient for designation of village status and qualification for a reduced speed limit.  Iden Green has frontage of 19 residences  plus 5 businesses plus a pub (The Peacock) plus a village green (address ‘Iden Green’ on VG register).   Cllr Wood is pursuing matter further.  Exact locations and budget for name plates required.  [Note:  examples found are Knoxbridge on A229, and two mini-villages on A267 between Mark Cross and Hailsham.  It was hoped that the discretion which is allowed for Local Authorities would be sufficient to allow for the designation of a Village for this purpose.  

b.Request Locations for speed/frequency traffic surveys (ATC) – for Iden Green area and Green Cross Inn area and new housing development on the west side of the village (Market Place). 

Fiona Greene had offered to identify the appropriate locations and it was agreed to ask Clerk to write to ask her to provide this information.  

c.Request Kent Police formal speed limit evaluation? 

It was decided that we are not yet ready and therefore not the appropriate time to request a formal speed limit evaluation. 

5. Electric Vehicle Charging Points

Cllr Alan Foster reported that Clerk and Mrs Susan Newsam had in hand the revised signage and road markings at Balcombes Hill intended to dissuade blocking of EV charge points by non-EV vehicles.

6. Footways

a.A262 Station Road verge

It was reported that recent cut by KCC was only 2 feet wide and forced those walking between village centre and Blue Coat Ln to walk dangerously close to traffic.  Decided to recommend that GPC commission a further cut to restore the walkability of this route.  Action Clerk.

b.Swale path update – speak to Fernham Homes re increased funding DB to action.

c.Speak to Anne Armstrong  (Little Meadow) re overgrown vegetation. DB to action

7. Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group update (HPLHG)

a.Info Panel near to the old Goudhurst Station Site update

Group had decided to do nothing until James Denning responds to GPC letter to his land agent granting permission for the location of the sign.

b.Horsmonden participation on HPLHG:

Horsmonden Nostalgia Group has been invited to represent Horsmonden village on The HPLHG.

  c. Goudhurst and Cranbrook representation

HPLHG has requested respective councils that Mrs Susan Newsam continue as a representative of Goudhurst Council and that Graham Holmes continue as a representative of Cranbrook Council for one year initially.

d.Future activities:  

In September HPLHG will: arrange a public walk; attend Horsmonden Nostalgia Day; give talk to Horsmonden History Society.

e.Next HPLHG meeting Tuesday 16 July at 13:30

8. AOB:

a.Micro Surfacing of A262

i. Drain covers and other ironwork were promised to be raised within 8 weeks of surface laying.  This has not yet been carried out but white markings indicated work will soon take place.  

ii. The cats eyes have not been replaced and are not referred to in the note delivered to residents.  Action: Clerk asked to chase cats eyes.  

iii. Short sections not yet surfaced expected to be treated with high grip anti-skid surface.

iv. Deep pot hole near St Mary’s church not yet filled.

v. Deep dip in A262 near Peter Wood’s house has not been remedied in re-surfacing work – very disappointing as such defects should be dealt with.  Action Clerk to contact KCC.

b.A21 – rush hour queues caused by Blue Boys roundabout leading to 10 minute delays are resulting in local minor roads being used as rat runs.  What to do about this?

c.GTAG activists have agreed to ask members to take photos of A262 incidents such as crashes and large HGVs stuck in village and send to Clerk () with copy to DB ()

d.SID for Kilndown

Cllr Knight requested a SID for Kilndown.  This was noted and would require budget amount (around £7k) in November budget setting for 2020-21. Clerk to take to GPC

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