Life in the slow lane

The Fairfax Gallery 2

Businesses and residents continue to be frustrated by the Tonbridge High Street revamp, which they claim has caused losses in trade as well as having an environmental impact.

The £2.65million scheme from Kent County Council was initially welcomed after its completion earlier this summer, but concerns have grown over parking and traffic flow.

Although traffic conditions are being monitored by the KCC over the next 18 months, spokesman Thom Morris confirmed that any review of the project will not be brought forward.

Colin Chamberlain, a driver with Station Taxis, claims journey times are now taking longer, which leads to a loss in trade and an increase in fuel costs.

He highlighted the county council’s decision to place a bus stop directly in the High Street without a dedicated bay as the key reason for increased traffic tailbacks.

Mr Chamberlain said: “Despite the fact kids are off school now, the traffic through the town centre is still terrible. We can sometimes take back routes, but passengers often don’t want to pay the extra that this costs them.

“Journeys are now on average 10-15 minutes longer, which amounts to an awful lot of diesel going to waste, and with vehicles standing not moving anywhere there’s a lot more pollution.

“Buses are now being held up by each other, as every time one pulls into the stop the traffic comes to stop, as you can’t get round them.”

The driver added that the new 20mph speed limit felt irrelevant as traffic is so slow.

Nick Rushby, Manager of Castle Cars, agreed there were ongoing issues with town centre traffic, which had not been eased by the narrowing of the road layout.

He said: “It does vary, but it can be really slow going through the High Street, and putting the bus stop where it is in the road was not a great idea. When it’s busy, you are not able to get round buses that are stopping.”

Sharon Tringham, Manager of Christ Church Café in the High Street, said: “We watched a doctor’s car struggling to get down the High Street recently and then about ten minutes later an ambulance.

“There are places in the High Street where it is not easy to pull over as the road is now only wide enough for two vehicles, so others cannot get by.”

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