Julie Wassmer – TV writer, author and local campaigner
THERE’S been a bit of a hiatus since my last column appeared because, for the very first time in my life, I’ve been suffering from a bad back. “Join the club!” I’m sure many of you might say, and certainly I consider myself to have been lucky thus far because for most writers who spend up to 18 hours a day in front of a computer screen, as I have done lately, back pain is an occupational hazard. Two chiropractor visits brought little relief so I placed all faith in a massage therapist who once cured a stiff neck for me with what appeared to be nothing short of a miracle.
Clare lives only a five-minute stagger away from my home in Whitstable but just as I was setting off, she called to delay my appointment as pavement repairs were preventing access to her home in Regent Street. Tragic disappointment morphed into incredulity as I learned that Clare had been forced to rearrange several appointments for her clients over the three-day period during which these repairs had been undertaken. Paving slabs had been lifted, exposing sand which had become rain-drenched. Barriers had been erected and tarmac finally spread with residents having been effectively trapped either in, or out of, their homes. The truly surprising thing for me was that none of the residents who were affected received notification about the works.
Perhaps it was felt that half a dozen households did not warrant the cost of leafleting but, as Clare herself suggested, a simple e-mail to one of the residents might have allowed the message to be passed on to others – especially to Clare’s elderly next door neighbour who was housebound while the repairs were going on. I also learned it’s not the first time that Regent Street residents have been inconvenienced in this way without notification. Pavement damage on Regent Street arises from heavy goods vehicles having to park up on the kerb for loading at the rear of supermarkets and other High Street retail stores, while keeping the narrow roadway free for other traffic.
Clearly this problem for Regent Street residents would be exacerbated by more supermarkets coming to our town and a one-way system would bring only more misery since Regent Street would become a natural rat-run for traffic seeking to escape such a system. The good news is that I finally got my appointment with Clare and my back is much better but the experience leads me to suggest that Regent Street residents and anyone else having to put up with similar un-notified inconvenience to their daily lives should contact the representatives whose responsibility it is to take care of residents in these matters.
Please therefore write with your concerns to your two Conservative Kent County councillors – Mike Harrison and Mark Dance. At the last council elections, I seem to recall that at least one of these gentlemen enthusiastically dubbed himself: “Your Man at County Hall!” His response to your letter should allow you to decide whether that tag was really appropriate.
Herne Bay Times, December 23rd 2014