Crash in Tunbridge Wells sparks road safety debate

DRIVE IN: The Fiat in Blacks

A CRASH in which a car ploughed into a camping shop in Monson Road and injured three people has prompted further questions about road safety and the traffic restrictions in place in the area.

Emergency services were called on Friday April 28 at 11.27am after a red Fiat 500 crashed into the Blacks store, where paramedics treated three people for minor injuries.

According to police at the scene, the driver apparently “panicked” and reversed their car into the shop.

Eyewitnesses, Jeremy and Claire Waller, owners of Jeremy’s Home Store, said that it was “an accident waiting to happen” as they believe the driver was attempting to do a three-point-turn on Monson Road to avoid the traffic restrictions.

Claire Waller told the Times: “I was upstairs, and I saw the car go back. It was at such high speed.

“This road is so dangerous. I’ve asked the Council how we get out if we go down Monson Road, and they said you do a three-point turn.”

Jeremy Waller told the Times: “I’ve seen so many accidents over the years where people have done three-point turns. We’ve been here 27 years… Somebody will get killed eventually.”

Many residents have echoed their concerns over the safety of Monson Road since the traffic restrictions were introduced on Mount Pleasant Road – local councillors among them.

Cllr Nicholas Pope (Alliance) Park Ward told the Times last week: “Whilst it is safer that there are less vehicles on the road, the removal of the traffic island on Monson Road means it’s more dangerous for pedestrians, especially now that the restrictions mean you can’t turn right on Monson Road, and you have to do a U-turn.”

A petition on Kent County Council’s website has been created by local residents calling for
the entire scheme to be scrapped with “immediate effect”.

Cllr Paul Roberts (Conservative, Pembury), who sits on the Joint Transport Board, told the Times:

“My recommendation would be for the immediate termination of fines, at least until the correct signage is in place…

“As it stands, it doesn’t fulfil any interested parties’ needs. I fear that it has resulted in an increased carbon footprint, with commercial traffic, residents and private hire vehicles having to take extended journeys….

“I believe it would be sensible for all stakeholders to rethink this.”

Local MP Greg Clark has also requested that the scheme be scrapped (See Letters, page 13).

In his open letter to the leader of TWBC, Cllr Ben Chapelard last week, Mr Clark said: “Indeed, Kent Highways has said the signage is confusing. So, I think it is only fair that the fines paid should be refunded. I would request that the Borough Council turn off the enforcement.”



Following the Times report last week (April 25) of non-compliant signage on the approach to the restricted bus lane on Mount Pleasant Road, KCC said it had offered the Times an incorrect statement and has provided this correction.

“We have asked our contractor to replace a sign in York Road as a priority.

“Separately, we are aware of concern about the format of the signs on the approach and entrance to the restriction on Mount Pleasant Road.

“We are arranging for their temporary amendment while we seek guidance from the Department for Transport on the signs.

“In the meantime, the restriction will continue to operate to the benefit of pedestrian safety and sustainable transport.”

Since then, KCC has temporarily covered up the incorrect wording on the bus gate signs
with white plastic.

The Times also contacted the Department for Transport (DfT) which confirmed that KCC approached them on April 26, after the Times’ article, requesting authorisation to use the non-regulation “9am-6pm except for access” sign on the Mount Pleasant Road gate way.

The DfT refused authorisation the following day, on April 27, citing that the signs were “watered down” to such an extent that it would allow a large number of vehicles to go down the road.

They also explained the intention of the bus lane was to limit the road to buses and certain vehicles, but the “benefits are lost” if too many vehicles are allowed on the street.

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