Fact makes the news, joins 20’s Plenty for Us and confirms Town Council support.

May and June have been busy months for FACT, so here’s all the latest…

May 28th saw FACT in the news following two traffic accidents involving pedestrians in a single week, both requiring an air ambulance response. I won’t reiterate the events or the article, which you can read in full here. What I will say is that it’s really horrible to hear news of traffic accidents and then be asked to comment. I know it’s a necessary and inevitable part of running this campaign, press attention leads to more exposure and (hopefully) support but first and foremost it is very upsetting. Faversham is a small and close-knit town and the consequences of these accidents reverberate all the more because of that. It also leaves me in no doubt that more needs to be done and soon.

In June I agreed to be the official contact for Faversham’s very own branch of 20’s Plenty. This is the national campaign to make 20mph the default speed limit where people live. The wide-ranging benefits of this scheme are already a reality for many towns up and down the country and you can watch a short video featuring the campaign’s founder Rod King MBE here. Being part of the national campaign means we will benefit from all their research, campaigning experience and resources. It also means we’ll be working alongside other 20’s Plenty groups across Kent to achieve the same goal. I was sent a starter pack with lots of useful things in it, my favourite being this “20’s Plenty Where People Live” wheelie bin sticker, which is such a clever idea.wheelie bin imageHow amazing would it be to have these stickers on as many wheelie bins as possible? I’m convinced it would make motorists think – if only for a moment – and reduce their speed through town. I’ll be launching our 20’s Plenty for Faversham website and petition in the next few weeks.

You can buy your own sticker here and I’m currently trying to raise money to purchase a larger number to sell and give away at events, so if you are a local business and would like to support the campaign in this way, please do get in touch.

On June 29th, I attended the town council meeting with two other FACT members, Tim Stonor and Tina Hagger (Swale Green Party). Our aim was to confirm the town council’s support and find out what happens next. Cllrs Cosgrove and Kay had already expressed their support at March’s Local Engagement Forum (you can read my previous post about that here) and had pledged to make Faversham 20mph in their election literature (see below) but I hadn’t heard anything more since the election and didn’t know if this view was shared by the entire town council.

Cosgrove Kay Pledges 002
Cosgrove Kay Pledges 001

Your Borough Council Candidates leaflet, Election 2015.

To my relief, the town council responded with a unanimous YES, which is excellent news. As for a more detailed discussion, this would have to wait for another day and another meeting; that of the Public Realm Group, which takes place on Thursday the 23rd July, 9:30am (should any of you wish to attend.) Not the best time for a working parent or a working anybody in fact, but needs must.

One last piece of news is that Helen Whately MP has apparently expressed her support for FACT and 20s Plenty for Faversham. I haven’t managed to track her down in person yet but I’m hoping to meet with her in the coming month.

Thanks for reading and supporting,

Amanda

In March, FACT attended the Local Engagement Forum and gained further support for a 20mph speed limit

On March 4th, FACT attended the Local Engagement Forum where we submitted this question for discussion:

“Given the recent spate of road accidents in Faversham…..we would like to hear from the representatives as to how we can implement 20mph zones, a safe network of crossings and various other traffic calming measures…..”

Responses were gained from the following participants: Chief Inspector Henley of Swale Police, Councillors Wilcox, Cosgrove and Town Mayor and Councillor Kay and Bill Ronan, the Community Engagement Officer for Swale. Kent Highways did not attend.

Chief Inspector Henley was the first to speak. He asserted that as Kent Highways set the speed limits, this wasn’t strictly a Police matter. He admitted to being unprepared but gave several reasons why he thought it might be problematic, I’ve listed them here and our responses: 

  • Crash data statistics will not support the need for a 20mph speed limit

Our response: 

Crash data is not a fully reliable indication of how dangerous our roads are.

I attended the meeting with a list of personal injury crashes for the 5 year period up to 30.09.2014. This information was obtained for me by Gary Miller of the Green Party. The information originates from data collected by the Police when an injury road collision is reported to them. On analysing the data it became clear that there are no fatal accidents recorded in Faversham during this period, despite there having been at least two in recent years. This is because crash data only records the status of an incident at the roadside, if the individual dies at a later date as a result of his/her injuries, the data is not updated to reflect this. Decisions about where to improve and install crossings and traffic calming measures are being made on the basis of this data but the data isn’t reflecting the seriousness of all accidents. 

  • A 20 mph speed restriction would be difficult to enforce

Our response: 

20mph speed limits are very much self-enforcing with the proper support of the Police and the council. Community policing, accompanied by proper engagement and education with the public means that a 20mph limit can be enforced with a “light touch”. If a 20mph limit has support from the majority of the community, a culture shift would happen fairly soon and 20mph would become the norm for most people. This has already been implemented with great success in London, Liverpool, Oxford, Cambridge, York, Bath, Bristol, Edinburgh and Lancashire and many more places have already implemented or approved 20mph speed limits for their residential and shopping streets. In all of these places the national 30mph limit is seen as “no longer fit for purpose”.

  • There were several concerns raised about the expense from various members of the forum.

Our response: 

20mph speed limits are relatively inexpensive to implement as they rely on effective and visible signage and require no physical change to the existing infrastructure. Furthermore:

A Council’s responsibilities are to fulfil its statutory duties, including road safety and aim to maximise the rate of return on any discretionary spending toward its priorities. The one-off cost of installing 20 mph limits without humps gives fantastic returns. Warrington reported a 800% (1:8) First Year Rate of Return (FYRR) on casualties avoided2 . Bristol found a 1:24 FYRR on the health benefits of more walking3 . Citations can be found here: Councils_Can_Afford_20mph_Limits (1)

Most tragically, recent years have seen fatalities on two of the existing crossings. This is simply unacceptable. Updating and installing new crossings and traffic islands does cost money but the lack of a cohesive and safe crossing network is proving to be fatal, compromising safety and health, as well as access to health centres, schools, nurseries and green spaces.

  • We specifically asked why Faversham’s schools don’t have crossing assistants (Lollipop people) or flashing signs and speed humps, restricting motorists to 20mph, or designated safe crossing areas for parents and children?

Their response:

The answer on the night was simply “we don’t know”. Yet parents regularly complain about traffic traveling at dangerously high speeds on roads near our schools and nurseries.

Bill Ronan was due to meet with local schools in the week following the forum and agreed to feed back his findings and any decisions made. His response is here.

At my recent meeting with elected representatives, Kent Police and KCC Highways we have agreed some remedial actions including re-marking enforcement lines at designated schools, and undertaking a targeted campaign of enforcement and traffic management.  At this time, the schools being looked at are not within the centre of Faversham, but I have discussed with colleagues your concerns and request that we look at future initiatives.

Following this meeting, Councillor Mike Cosgrove and Town Mayor and councillor Nigel Kay have both publicly pledged to support a 20mph speed limit in Faversham.

Kent Highways were not at the meeting but I have had a response from them, which I will summarise in the next post.

This week has seen two further road accidents involving pedestrians. The most serious involved a 13-year-old boy, who sustained “life-changing” injuries and had to be air-lifted to Kings College hospital in London. (Faversham News, May 21st 2015) It is extremely upsetting to hear this news and we will continue campaign to campaign for safer crossings and traffic calming.

We need your support, start driving at 20mph, it will add a mere 40 seconds to your journey time and the benefits are immense. For info on journey times at 20mph check out 20s Plenty Myth Busting info.

I know that Faversham is a truly special place, as well as being beautiful and historic it is much-loved. It benefits from a strong and active community of residents, who are connected to each other and their local environment. They are passionate about what happens in the town and many work tirelessly to make it the best it can be.

If you want to get involved, please subscribe to this blog and send me your email, stating that you would like to help with the campaign.

You can show support, keep up-to-date with our progress and suggest solutions by liking us on Facebook or following us onTwitter, you can also join the discussions on Streetlife.com

Please also let me know;

  • roads where traffic speed is an issue for you
  • roads/junctions you find difficult to cross
  • where you would like to see cycle paths and bike racks