Over the last few weeks, Lib Dem councillors on both Maidstone Borough Council and Kent County Council have been responding to residents’ concerns about the new cycling measures in King Street and the pedestrianisation scheme in Earl Street. KCC had to install these schemes very hastily to comply with the timetable imposed by the Government’s Active Travel scheme. There is no doubt this haste has caused problems.
Regrettably, there was no time for public consultation ahead of the installation of these schemes. Subsequently, various deficiencies have come to light, particularly the loss of disabled parking.
Local councillors formally raised these concerns with KCC and MBC officers outlining the areas of concern and further discussions took place with KCC at the Joint Transport Board meeting on 14th October. Consequently, a number of changes will be made in the near future, including re-instating disabled parking and improving the layout of the bus stops in King Street.
In the longer term, a full public consultation will take place to ensure that, if either of these temporary schemes are to become permanent, then they must be in the best interests of the wider community, be of an appropriately high standard and have public support.
Speaking after the meeting, County Councillor Rob Bird said, “KCC has recognised that they could have communicated with local residents and business owners better. Looking forward, KCC will need to demonstrate that the schemes in King Street and Earl Street are promoting safer cycling and supporting local hospitality businesses, without unacceptable impacts on local people.”
Borough Councillor, Clive English added: “It is good that KCC is now listening to councillors and residents. I am particularly pleased that the disabled parking places will be restored. With a few more improvements, these schemes could be of real benefit to our town centre.”