No “gates under the Hollingbourne railway bridge”! – says Borough Councillor.

Yesterday Hollingbourne Parish Council received the June Monthly Newsletter from our local Maidstone Borough Councillor Patrik Garten and this was published verbatim at https://hollingbournepc.kentparishes.gov.uk/june-2019-newsletter-from-our-maidstone-borough-councillor/

The following message has just been received from Councillor Garten.

Dear Residents

Please apologise that I write to you jointly, because my mailbox was crammed this morning, with just one issue.

I’ve been writing my monthly newsletter for almost three years and often wondered whether anybody bothers to read it. From that point I am pleased to have received a barrage of comments, only falling slightly short of my stated aim to receive my first death-threat.

Joking aside, there are absolutely no plans to close off the railways arch ! -nor is it my intention to cut the parish in half. I’ve always been opposed to bottle-necking, flow reducing or closing off streets in order to solve traffic problems. This was the universal solution of the first Labour government in the 1990s and the country’s infrastructure still suffers as a consequence of those ill conceived ideas.

Every “great” idea has unintended consequences, and traffic blocking usually has more of those unintended ones that what it solves problems.

So to be quite clear:
== As your MBC councillor I have no highways responsibilities and as such my comments are worthless. Highways is a KCC issue*.
== Many of you clearly identified my comments as “tongue in cheek” and that is what they were intended to be.
== During the closure I followed the many angry emails and responses regarding the problems, especially those problems experienced by residents of the four original hamlets. It would have been wholly inappropriate, if I had uttered my comments in direct response to any of those emails.

However, having said all this, from a pedestrian’s and bicycle-rider’s perspective, I very much enjoyed the quietness of the village during those closures.
And it would be wonderful if our village would suffer less traffic generally.

We have the unfortunate situation that on 361 days of the year residents complain about the amount of traffic and the excessive speeds while given the tranquillity of four days road-blockage, residents are upset about the inconvenience and dangers associated with the closure. There is no simple answer.

The road infrastructure around Maidstone is in a dismal state and anything else but appropriate. If I had a magic bullet (without unintended consequences) to solve Hollingbourne’s traffic problems I would use and promote it seriously and immediately.

“Modal-shift” as promoted by Liberal led MBC is certainly not the answer nor is obviously my “tongue-in-cheek” gate idea. Something however needs to give and I am pleased to have stirred up the debate.

The years ahead will see a lot of additional disruption with proposed roadworks along the A249, causing even more commuters cutting through the North Downs. Any idea, especially radical ones, is worth sounding, if for nothing else but to hold national and county politicians to account.

As I said before, I am your MBC councillor and (un-)fortunately highways does not fall in my remit………….

Kind regards

Patrik Garten
MBC Cllr for North Downs Ward (Cons.)

PatrikGarten@Maidstone.gov.uk

*Please note that highways are the responsibility of Kent County Council and the KCC Councillor is Shellina Prendergast who can be contacted at Shellina.Prendergast@kent.gov.uk

 

Pictured below is Councillor Prendergast with Parish Clerk Vicki Smith (on left)checking a road flooding problem in Hollingbourne last year with the Hollingbourne railway bridge in the background.

Vicki Smith and Councillor Shellina Prendergast in March 2018 looking at an Eyhorne Street pothole which was eventually repaired.