Living in Canterbury has become “unbearable” according to exasperated residents who say they are being driven out. They
told a meeting on Monday they are being forced to abandon the city
since the controversial Westgate Towers traffic trial plunged it into
Speaking at a heated public debate organised by the Get
Canterbury Moving campaign group one frustrated householder predicted
Canterbury would become full of students and tourists – but no one else.
Crowds packed into the Dominican Priory for the standing-room-only meeting. Janet
Hobbs, of Whitstable Road, said:
“I have lived in Canterbury for 35
years and we’re moving. The scheme was the last straw which broke the
camel’s back. It is now unbearable to live in Canterbury. The pollution
is just dreadful.”
Another resident of St Dunstan’s Street said he
had lived in Canterbury for 40 years but now “cannot wait to move out
of this town”.
But Station Road West resident Geoff Frost, who
also wants to flee the city, said:
“I can’t sell it [his house] because
potential buyers say the traffic is too heavy. The city council said
everything would be smoothed out three months into the trial. Well, it
Schoolteacher Jenny Payne of Linden Grove said the effects of the scheme had left her feeling like a victim in her own home. She
“My road is now access only, so when I turn into it people give
me dirty looks and often swear at me. I feel victimised when trying to
get to my own house. This is really affecting me, but the council just
Blind Charlotte Hardwick, of Black Griffin Lane,
who complained that the pelican crossing in St Peter’s Place had been
replaced with a zebra crossing. She said:
“I can’t cross the road
safely or independently any more. I have to ask for someone to help, but
this isn’t always possible. I just have to cross and hope for the
Kent county councillor Graham Gibbens, who co-chaired the
meeting with fellow county member Martin Vye, said he was concerned by
Miss Hardwick’s experience.
Fears were raised about increased
fumes from stationary traffic. Mr Vye said there was a link between
asthma and nitrogen dioxide levels in the air.
Moving member Brian Buggins said English Heritage had no evidence to
suggest the towers were suffering damage from vehicles – the main
justification for their closure. He suggested lorries should be banned
instead and the towers reopened to cars and buses.
Only one man,
who did not give his name, spoke up for the trial. He said he had
conducted his own survey of shoppers at the towers and said only five
per cent wanted the towers reopened to traffic.
Mr Gibbens reassured residents that the prospect of continuing the scheme after the trial ends in March was “not a done deal”. He said the ultimate decision lay with the county council’s highways authority. He
promised to relay views to KCC leader Paul Carter and urged residents
to raise concerns with cabinet member for highways Bryan Sweetland.
results of the city council’s public consultation on the trial are
expected to be released in the next few weeks. Air quality monitoring
statistics should be ready by February.
from Kent Latest Stories Feed by Canterbury Times