At a Kent County Council meeting this week councillors endorsed a KCC proposal to implement a trial lorry control area aimed to substantially reduce inappropriate HGV movements. The trial area is likely to be to the south of Maidstone.
The County Council is already in advanced discussions with the Government about obtaining the necessary legal powers to permit KCC officers to undertake the enforcement. A similar scheme is already in place in London. Up to now, most HGV restrictions in Kent have tended to be flouted by lorry drivers.
Kent Police have not provided the resources needed for effective enforcement - last year they issued just two £50 penalty notices for HGVs contravening the restriction on the narrow B2163 through Leeds village, a notorious bottleneck.
Rob Bird, County Councillor for Maidstone Central, welcomed this initiative. Speaking at the meeting, he hoped that the necessary enforcement powers would soon be obtained and the trial would be successful. It should then be extended to other parts of the County as quickly as possible.
Rob Bird also made it clear that the scheme should not be restricted to those rural areas which already have lorry restrictions in place. It must also include the residential areas and estate roads throughout Kent. Many of our residential neighbourhoods are blighted by large lorries which have lost their way or which are deliberately 'rat-running' through totally unsuitable narrow and 'quiet' streets.
Rob recalled the time when the A26 Tonbridge Road in Maidstone was blocked for months because of the huge sink-hole. Residents from the Fant area were quite rightly very angry and concerned about the large number of HGVs ploughing through Fant's narrow streets at that time, despite very extensive signage making it clear that the roads were unsuitable.
Other ostensibly quiet housing estates in Kent's towns have to put up with a regular barrage of unsuitably large lorries. This is clearly unacceptable.
The more lorries can be effectively restricted to the main roads and the sooner this can be done, the better.