Traffic ban petition compromised by ‘fake’ councillors


AN online petition against traffic restrictions in Tunbridge Wells has been compromised after the names of some Borough Councillors had been “fraudulently” signed.

Last week an e-petition was created on Kent County Council’s (KCC) website to protest against the controversial traffic restrictions on Mount Pleasant Road.

However, shortly after the petition went live, it was infiltrated by someone falsely using the names of councillors who would otherwise not have signed the petition.

One of those whose name appeared was Cllr Nicholas Pope (Alliance, Park), who said on Twitter last week: “Can anyone explain how my name has appeared against a KCC petition that I haven’t signed?

“Essentially, someone has fraudulently signed a KCC petition with my name and email address. How have they managed to do that? It shouldn’t be possible.”

Cllr Justine Rutland (Lib Dem, Culverden), whose name was also added to the petition, said: “This is really a KCC issue to address, and I understand they are looking into it.

“It’s not ideal having one’s name added to a petition without consent, but Tunbridge Wells politics is full of shenanigans, unfortunately.

“This is just another example, and you get used to it. I’m focused on working with KCC to resolve the issues raised in the petition.”

After KCC was made aware of the situation, the petition was suspended and the names of those councillors who didn’t sign it were removed.

A Kent County Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of a petition relating to the public realm scheme on Mount Pleasant in Tunbridge Wells.

“Petitions submitted to KCC are processed in accordance with the Petition Scheme, which is published on our website.

“Specialist officers scrutinise all petitions we receive. Fraudulent signatories are removed from petitions as we are made aware of them.”

The petition, ‘Scrap traffic restrictions and enforcement on Mount Pleasant, Tunbridge Wells (Public Realm 2), with immediate effect’ was created by Culverden resident Sally Atkinson, who started the petition after her social media post garnered local attention.

“I created the petition because these restrictions are ridiculous,” she told the Times. “They serve no purpose at all, and it has created more traffic along the roads like York and Dudley, where it is now impossible to park.

“The public have been given no proper evidence and had no consultation on this. I think the Council have gone beyond the scope of what they can do.

“After my post on Nextdoor, I had lots of messages from councillors and residents asking me to start a petition, which I did, but someone was able to sign the petition as councillors when they [the councillors] never signed it, which was very annoying.”

Meanwhile, residents have been struggling to sign the e-petition as some have been unable to log into the website or haven’t received a confirmation email after they have signed.

KCC said they are aware of users experiencing issues and are working with their suppliers to investigate further.

Ms Atkinson added: “The ability for the public to express their democratic voice is severely compromised. I have canvassed support from Monson Road businesses to hold paper signature sheets so that those who wish to sign, can.”

At 1,000 signatures, the petition will be debated at the next relevant Council meeting.

The petition is now live again on the KCC website and currently has 236 signatures.

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