Cheriton Cycle Lane: the road to ruin?
Kent Active Travel
Folkestone Central Station to Cheriton Cycle Lane Consultation
Date: 24th October, 2021
Background: A group of Cheriton Labour Councillors and members canvassed residents and traders of Cheriton about the way the consultation had been carried out and about their views on the proposal.
We also sought the views of our membership and encouraged them to take part in the consultation.
Councillors from Cheriton and members of our CLP attended the public meetings held in Cheriton on Tuesday, 19th October. This report is being submitted as a group response to the KCC Consultation
Our findings as a working group on The Consultation process:
Most traders and residents had heard about the scheme through posters distributed by one of the high street traders, who opposed the scheme. A petition organised by another trader, whose business was supplying aids to people with mobility problems, was another route through which people found out about the scheme.
No trader reported being directly informed or consulted by the council.
The public meetings were organised by two Conservative councillors, who made it clear that they were seeking support for the scheme to be dropped.
The money spent on the creation of the plan, would have been better spent if a fact and opinion finding exercise had been carried out before the plan was made. Had there been consultation with traders and residents to discuss the plan in principle, before the design was drawn up, there may have been a different outcome. As it is, it looks as though the money, that could have been put to good use, providing an alternative route for the cycle path avoiding the severe reduction in the on-street parking so vital to traders and residents alike: providing the traffic calming measures; shoppers rest areas; off-street parking, thus utiliising the government funding, without decimating the shop trade.
Attitudes to the Scheme
It was clear from the public meetings and from our canvassing, that the opposition to the scheme was very strong.
Very few people appeared to be interested in the idea of Active Travel or to have an understanding of what Active Travel means. Their concerns were about what they would lose; they were unable to focus on what they might gain. Maybe there’s another lesson here. Public consultation and education is needed to prepare for change.
We can see value in the idea of Active Travel. We know that any scheme which can both improve the health of our residents and provide workable, safe and inclusive ways of moving around the district would be desirable. However, this scheme seems to concentrate only on cyclists and does not address the needs of other road and pavement users, including those with hearing or sight loss eg. mobility scooter users, families with young children in pushchairs, elderly people shopping for heavy or bulky items, delivery drivers, e-cycle and scooter riders. We felt that there were serious safety issues in the design of the path.
Kent, like many counties, badly needs an integrated transport system, made more affordable, so that everyone can move about Kent without having to rely on driving a car, and regardless of how active or inactive they are.
It is important that government, whether local or national, looks at the models adopted by countries like Denmark and Holland – a hierarchy of responsibility in road use, pedestrians first, wheeled vehicle users second and car drivers last.
Kent could be the first county in England to adopt this model.
The Position of the District Labour Councillor Group (26th October 2021)
This response is being submitted to KCC on behalf of the Labour group on Folkestone and Hythe district council.
“Members of the group attended one of the public meetings organised to discuss the plans. It was clear at the meeting that there is overwhelming opposition to the current scheme. Very valid points were made from the floor about the potential impact of the proposals on Cheriton’s valued high street, alongside accessibility and safety concerns.
It’s a shame that consultation wasn’t carried out meaningfully with the local community before detailed plans were drawn up. Officers made clear at the meeting the government restrictions there are on the funding. However it may be possible to discuss alternative schemes with the Department for Transport. Good suggestions were made from the floor about alternative ideas.
We would welcome a commitment from the county council to talk with the local community about alternative schemes which would command community support and still ensure funding is spent in the local community on local priorities rather than lost entirely.
We oppose the scheme in its current form.”