LORRIES using an illegal diversion through a housing estate in Tunbridge Wells sparked a local campaign last week against Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) using the road.
Sherwood residents living near Liptraps Lane are “very unhappy” as a result of massive industrial lorries squeezing down the tight residential street.
Last Wednesday (July 26), councillors and locals came out to protest HGV drivers illegally using the cut-through from the centre of town to the industrial estate and A21.
It’s an issue that Sherwood residents have been enduring for years, but has recently worsened with the new diversions in place for the Pembury Road closure by gas operator SGN.
Campaign leader Cllr Hugo Pound (Labour, Sherwood) last week counted an average of 13 HGVs an hour using the illegal cut-through.
Cllr Pound told the Times: “The campaign to stop HGVs driving up and down here [Liptraps Lane] has been going on for years, so isn’t just about the Pembury Road closure, it is a local issue for Sherwood residents, and they are very unhappy.”
The Labour leader was joined by Cllr Shandi Rogers (Labour) and Sherwood residents with placards that read: “7.5 limit’ and “illegal HGV just filmed”.
The councillors spoke to drivers and took photos of the contravening HGVs, reporting them to Kent Police, who are able to issue HGV drivers with penalty notices of up to £300.
Restrictions on where an HGV can drive are regulated by how heavy the lorry is.
From Liptraps Lane to the end of Sandhurst Road, the weight limit, as displayed on the road signs, is 7.5 tonnes – typically the weight of an ambulance.
However, the lorries using these roads far exceed this weight limit, with the average HGV weighing between 18 and 41 tonnes.
Local MP Greg Clark said in a statement on Twitter: “In the diversion route through Liptrap Lane, HGVs have been using that route when they shouldn’t be.
“There are some new signs to warn people against it, but I’ve also spoken to the Police who’ve agreed to look into stepping up enforcement so that we don’t have heavy goods vehicles going through those residential areas.”
Inspector Ian Jones, of the Tunbridge Wells Community Safety Unit at Kent Police, said: “We are aware of residents’ concerns about prohibited vehicles using Liptraps Lane and our officers are working with partners to explore opportunities to prevent lorries using this route.
“The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency also has a role in liaising with freight companies and providing guidance to lorry drivers.
“I would urge residents who witness these traffic offences to report [them].”
Incidents can be reported on the Kent Police website using the following link: kent.police.uk/contact/af/contact-us/
The majority of the increased HGV traffic has been caused by the closure of Pembury Road, with diversion routes being ignored by lorry drivers.
Dan Brown, a spokesman for gas company SGN, said: “It’s important that vehicles follow the appropriate signed diversion routes while carrying out essential work to our gas pipes to help minimise disruption to the community.
“We’ve liaised with the local authority and arranged for additional signage instructing HGVs to use the correct diversion while we complete our work in Pembury Road.
“HGVs should use the diversion route via A264 Calverley Road, A264 Crescent Road, A264 Church Road, A26 London Road, A26 St John’s Road, A26 London Road, A26 Quarry Hill Road, A2014 Pembury Road and A21 Pembury Bypass.”