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Westgate trial a success. Earth is flat. Unicorns fart glitter.

Cllr Vickery-Jones is a reliable stock of laughter – it’s a bit like having a town jester. Long after the Westgate trial has been shut down by KCC and a collective sigh of relief has echoed around Canterbury, our local flat-earther insists it was a success. Nearly. If only we had all given it just a little more time. And damn anyone who dares to differ.

In fact, I think this outburst is better explained by the Conservative’s instinctive and visceral hatred of anything that damages the impression of party unity. Independent thinkers, users of logic and fans of self-evident facts are tolerated only for as long as they keep their horrid little thoughts to themselves. 

Those who dare to peep over the parapet and whisper obvious home truths like “the emperor has no clothes” or “the traffic trial is a cock-up” are rounded on and publicly insulted by their colleagues. In some cases, the party whip is removed, stripping them of influence, and presumably income. This is what the Conservatives then pass off as ‘party unity’.


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The Westgate Towers
saga took an extraordinary twist this week when the city council’s transport
supremo launched a vitriolic attack on a former party colleague.

Cllr Peter
, who maintains the year-long traffic trial was a success, branded
trial opponent David Hirst a “dinosaur” and accused him of
“talking obvious rubbish” after Cllr Hirst said buses were to blame
for much of the congestion in St Dunstan’s Street.

It is the latest
clash in an increasingly acrimonious war
between the scheme’s supporters and its detractors. Cllr Hirst lost the
Conservative party whip on Canterbury City Council in February after he backed calls for Kent County Council to
scrap it and restore the original road layout.

The trial began in
March last year and saw vehicles banned from passing through the gate way of
the 14th century towers. Traffic lights governed movement around the towers and
only buses were allowed to enter St Peter’s Place from St Dunstan’s Street.

Cllr Vickery-Jones, the council’s
executive member for transport, was one of its most ardent supporters. Writing in response
to a letter from Cllr Hirst in last week’s Gazette, Cllr Vickery-Jones said:

“There are many
like Cllr Hirst who have access to the facts but choose to ignore them. I recognise that because we did not challenge
misconceptions and explain what and why we were running the trial, we lost the
debate over the efficacy of the trial because we were unwilling to publicly
counter the aggressive and insulting adverse propaganda.”

Cllr Vickery-Jones
says pollution in lower St Dunstan’s Street, North Lane, St Peter’s Place and
Pound Lane dropped by 50% “with no corresponding increase elsewhere”,
while the number of cars fell by 12%. He added:

“The Westgate
Traffic trial was not a failure. It was starting to bed down and beginning to
work. Other routes were being found, other means of travel were being tried,
hence the growth in bus usage. It never
was an attack on car drivers, only an attempt to encourage those 35% of drivers
who could reasonably do so to leave their cars and opt for sustainable travel.”

KCC, which looks
after the county’s roads network, reopened the towers to traffic when it
restored the original road system in April.

Pet scheme was a
disaster and farce

Lib Dem group leader
Alex Perkins believes Peter Vickery-Jones should resign over the Westgate
Towers traffic scheme. He describes the
scheme as a disaster and a farce. He said:

“It’s a shame
to see two councillors tearing into each other in public – and while it’s
tempting just to leave them to it, on this occasion it is only fair to point out that Cllr Hirst is in fact
obviously right.

It must be hard for
Cllr Vickery-Jones to accept that statistical analysis of his pet scheme has
shown it to have been a total disaster, but sadly that is what has happened.

The trial was a
farce. It was badly managed by Peter Vickery-Jones and just made a bad situation far worse and upset a great many

A better man would
resign. But we know from bitter experience that it doesn’t matter how badly
this current administration muck things up, oblivious to their many
shortcomings, they just accuse everyone who holds differing opinions of ‘being
political’ and sail on regardless.”

HB Gazette 27th Jun 2013

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