Since being elected as Ramsgate’s Kent County Councillor in 2017, I have become increasingly aware of problems on Harbour Street. These issues are caused by drivers who, for whatever reason, fail to see that this street is pedestrianised between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm.
This traffic regulation order (TRO) has been in place for around 20 years.
Talking to Harbour Street traders and drivers
I have met with many of the traders and asked them what they thought about some sort of barrier at the end of the road to prevent traffic coming up. Most thought it was a very good idea. They thought it would enhance the local area, that pedestrians could shop in greater safety, comfort and they thought it would boost business. I also spent a couple of days talking to the drivers of those vehicles who had driven up the road in breach of the TRO. By and large they felt that they could use the road and that they weren’t breaking any laws. The need for a barrier was clear to me!
Bollard or gate for Harbour Street?
So, working with Ramsgate Town Council, we decided to put up a temporary structure and started the process of applying to Kent County Council for permission to install a hydraulic bollard or a gate. This was three years ago.
Bollards, as it turns out, are quite expensive because they have ‘on costs’ and they need to be linked up to Thanet District Council CCTV. Now that isn’t a problem but the ‘on costs’ were. So like many other towns across East Kent we decided the best option was a gate. The sort of barrier you will see in Faversham, Herne Bay and Folkestone.
My question at full council
I was surprised on Thursday when I put my question to the full council at the Kent County Council meeting (currently held online) to hear that Ramsgate town council have not provided a method statement! As a matter of fact all of the information needed for Kent County Council to provide permission to install this gate has actually been provided.
Factor in Ramsgate town council also have the money to install this gate and employ six technicians, who can routinely open and close the gate and many volunteers who will also ensure that no essential service is impeded.
So why is permission being unreasonably withheld when there’s no reason to? The TRO has been in place for 20 years and people and businesses should adhere to it. Ramsgate Town council have the money and the staff, and arrangements can easily be made with emergency services.
Ramsgate Town clerk Richard Styles says,
“The refusal to work with the RTC to fit a simple gate to protect the town centre is both ludicrous and mean spirited from KCC. We are more than happy to conform to any reasonable request, but all we get is refusals!”
I say this is beginning to look like discrimination. We are aware that ‘method statements’ weren’t required elsewhere and that KCC actually installed Faversham’s gate. I will now be contacting the member responsible for Highways, Cllr Micheal Payne and we’ll be seeking an urgent meeting with him. If we still can’t get an agreement we’ll refer this roadblock upwards to the Local Government Association.
Write to Roger
Meanwhile, as my patience wears thin, so, as many Ramsgate residents have done so far, please do keep writing to Kent County Council’s leader, Roger Gough, asking him to do the right thing and give us our gate.
You can reach him at: Roger.Gough@kent.gov.uk