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Andy Lawrence stops the traffic in Mortimer Street

Local hero Andy Lawrence has been putting himself at risk, trying to
keep Mortimer Street safe from idiot motorists. Drivers who are too
stupid to read the traffic signs, or too selfish to take any notice, are
driving along the street when it should be treated as a pedestrianised
zone.

There’s a simple and cheap solution (a lockable barrier across the
road) but our Council has been dragging its heels, so Andy has taken to
enforcing the traffic regulations himself. One local councillor who
accepts there’s a problem – Cllr Andrew Cook – wants to make sure the
majority of traders want the barrier.

Cllr Cook sits on the Council’s ruling Executive and holds the
portfolio for Community Safety, and for Health, amongst others.
Community Safety, and Health, is being endangered because the traffic
regulations are not being enforced. (Where are the police and the newly
empowered traffic wardens when you need them?)

The law isn’t being enforced – presumably the powers that be would
plead budget cuts. I had thought the Conservatives were the “Law and
Order” party. There’s no need to carry out a survey to find out whether
the law should be enforced – just make it impossible to break that
particular law. Install the barrier. Now.


Pedestrians
are being put at risk by drivers ignoring traffic restrictions in the
town centre, traders claim. And they have accused council bosses of
stalling over a cheap solution that would make the town centre safer.

Officials are considering a plan to install a lockable barrier at the
bottom of Mortimer Street, costing £1,500. It was suggested at the
start of the summer, but no progress has been made. Meanwhile, a
shopkeeper who was manning temporary signs reminding people of the
closures says he is not prepared to continue because of the abuse from
motorists. Andrew Lawrence, 43. who runs the Speciality Food Store in
Mortimer Street, said:

“I did it for four weeks. but no longer for my own sanity. I’m not
insured and I don’t work for the council. So if there was an accident or
I dropped the sign on someone, who would be responsible? People get
very emotional when told they can’t do something, and I’ve been told
they are coming through whether I like it or not, because they have
always parked there or driven up the road.”

The dad-of-five, who has run the shop for four years, met councillors
and other traders to discuss the problem and councillor Peter Lee came
up with a design for a lockable barrier that could be lifted and
lowered. He said:

“Four shops would hold the key it would be locked upright at certain
times and lowered to provide a physical barrier. Deliveries could still
get through, and it could easily be opened in an emergency. The best bit
is that it would only cost £1,500 – a tiny amount for a council that
has £1 million of taxpayers’ money sitting in the bank. But it seems
they don’t care about the people who are in danger from the cars
whizzing up here at speed – only about keeping their cash.”

Town centre manager Chris West was due to present a report on the
issue to Herne Bay councillors at a meeting on Tuesday night, and said
he planned to consult businesses before proposing a more permanent
solution. Councillor Andrew Cook said it was important to get all
traders’ views before proceeding. He said:

“I don’t think there’s a single councillor who would be against this,
but we need to make sure it is what the majority of businesses want. I
stood out there with Andrew for ten minutes and saw six cars go up
there, and none had a legal reason to do so. But everything has to go
through the correct procedures and the bureaucracy that goes with that.”

Cllr Cook suggested an interim solution may be possible if someone else could be found to take over responsibility for the sign.

HB Times 13th Sep 2012

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