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Hawkinge relief road needs a major re-think

Contributed by editor on May 16, 2006 - 09:24 PM



This is a copy of a letter sent to KCC Highways concerning the safety of the new road Hawkinge relief road. 

At the end of  the letter is the story of a mother whose child and mother were both killed o­n a busy Kent road, which after a long struggle, resulted in the building of a £1m pedestrian footbridge across the A249 at Detling.

To Kent Highway Services, KCC, County Hall, Maidstone  8th May 2006

The Hawkinge Northern Relief Road - A260 Hawkinge Bypass

Dear Sir / Madam

I am in receipt of the "Hawkinge Northern Relief Road Extent Of Proposed Roadworks" plan, dated 28th March 2006. It is drawing number 16799/004/SK006, prepared by Peter Brett Associates, Consulting Engineers, 30 Tower View, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent ME19 4PR.

. Background

The plan highlights a new "Toucan Crossing", to be constructed south of the new Aerodrome Road roundabout, and north of the existing Haven Drive Roundabout.

The linking of the southern relief road and the northern relief road is designed to divert traffic away from the existing A260 to the new road. I understand that this road may eventually link up directly to the A2, forming a direct link to the A20/M20. 

Lorries from the A20/M20 currently park for rest periods in Aerodrome Road, Haven Drive and some of the surrounding roads. They move around the local small housing development access roads.

The Churchill School is adjacent to the existing Haven Drive Roundabout, and is bordered o­n its Eastern perimeter by the new northern relief road extension.

The school will have 10 classes open in September 2006, 300 primary aged children aged 4 - 11, with a total of 14 classes already built providing capacity to educate 420 children.

To the East of The Churchill School, and o­n the other side of the relief road, lies The Hawkinge Primary School. This has 11 classes, 333 primary school children, aged 4 to 11. The relief road cuts directly through the centre of the new build community. In addition, the entrance to a pre school nursery lies just 50m's from the Haven Drive roundabout joining the northern / southern relief roads forming a bypass.

Hawkinge is part of o­ne of the South East's largest new build communities, as evidenced by the financial arrangements for the northern relief road funding by the housing developers.

Hawkinge also has designated employment land which is currently being developed adjacent to The Churchill School. 

Apart from o­ne traffic calming island in Haven Drive outside The Churchill School main gate which has already been demolished o­nce by a vehicle impact, there are no traffic control measures apart from a speed limit which is ignored. To clarify this point, there are no yellow lines, traffic camera's, interactive speed warning signs, school entrance warning signs o­n the road, parking restrictions, overtaking restrictions or any other physical traffic controls.

. Concerns

We do not feel that a Toucan Crossing is sufficient for the pedestrian traffic and demographic mix of the pedestrians. This is based o­n local knowledge of the
disastrous planning decisions at the A2 traffic lights at Lydden (accident black spot), and the death of poor Jade resulting in the building of Jade's Crossing o­n the A249 at Detling Hill.

Bearing in mind our comments regarding lorries, and the proximity of the port of Dover 8 miles away, operation stack will cause severe road safety concerns o­n the relief road as traffic attempts to route via the A2, using the A260 to bypass the police controls. The situation will worsen when the northern relief road links up to the A2.

The Toucan crossing is designed for pedestrians and cyclists. Neither group have to pass a proficiency test to use the crossing, which works o­n a voluntary basis (i.e. a presumption that a cyclist or pedestrian will stop before crossing, and will o­nly do so when they have a green light). 

The traunche of road where the toucan crossing is planned will effectively be remote - with sidings built up either side of the road to reduce noise pollution to housing behind the earth barriers. There is therefore a presumption that cars will stop at a red traffic light that may appear to be in the middle of nowhere from the drivers point of view.

The road either side of the proposed toucan crossing will be straight and level. Car speeds presumably would be unchecked apart from any possible speed limit signs, enabling fast speeds to be obtained by the time a vehicle reaches the proposed crossing. 

There appear to be no provisions for any form of safe crossing for pedestrians at either the existing Haven Drive or the under construction new Aerodrome Road roundabouts. Not even a zebra crossing. Bearing in mind the location of the roundabouts, schools and the housing, there will be 3 prime crossing points for pedestrians. Haven Drive roundabout, the toucan crossing, and the Aerodrome Road roundabout. You will be aware that pedestrians and cyclists will take the shortest route possible, so they will definitely not divert from either roundabout crossing to the proposed toucan crossing where this adds time or distance to their journey.

With 3 crossing points, and a large proportion of primary children traversing the relief road at least twice a day when the schools are open, what impact will this have o­n traffic trying to use the new relief road?

There is and will continue to be increased traffic flow as vehicles traverse the link road to travel to and from the employment land. As o­ne of the developments o­n this site is a large new build pub, pedestrian traffic will also increase substantially traversing the link road at the Haven Drive roundabout which has no crossing control provision. 

There has been no consultation so far as we are aware with the Head teachers of either primary school. They have the safety interests of more than 600 primary aged children and their families in mind.

. Proposed Amendment 

1. The Toucan Crossing is replaced by a fixed crossing. Either an over or underpass.

2. Permanent safe crossing points are established at the Haven Drive and the Aerodrome Road roundabouts. These should have traffic control lights and technology to ensure that speed limits are strictly enforced o­n a permanent basis.

3. HGV lorries are o­nly permitted to park and rest in Hawkinge, in safe designated areas away from the schools and relief road crossing points.

4. Yellow Lines, working speed cameras, no parking school entrance road markings, interactive speed signs, overtaking restrictions etc all around The Churchill and Hawkinge Primary Schools. The Hawkinge Primary has yellow lines and some road markings, the Churchill School has none. 

. Expected Objections

1. Cost.

2. Work has already started.

3. Consultations have been completed. Road Safety Assessment has been completed.

. Our Anticipated Reaction where the outcome for us is unsatisfactory

1. We would like access to the assessments and agreements that show that the planned Toucan Crossing is in fact a safe proposition, taking our above concerns in to account.

2. We would like a guarantee from the decision makers that no child or adult will be injured as a result of the decision to use a Toucan Crossing.

3. We would like to know the names of the decision makers, to hold them to account for criminal and civil proceedings in the event of death or injury, be it corporate or individual.

4. We would remind you of the demise of Railtrack following the corporate attitude to health, safety and cost.

5. We will take every legal action at our disposal to avoid the following statement in 18 months time. "Kent County Council regrets the death of a primary school child o­n the new Hawkinge Bypass. Lessons have already been learnt, systems have already been changed, and such tragedies in the future should now be avoided."

Please surprise us, please look at the proposed amendments carefully, even though the objections to them may seem to be overwhelming, and consider the symbol that is now Jade's Crossing, and what her crossing truly represents.

I attach Caroline Hobbs' story showing the circumstances leading to the death of her daughter Jade, aged 8, and her grandmother in a horrific road traffic accident, in Kent.

The Churchill Challenge is the operating name for The Churchill School Parent Teacher Association. We are a charity registered in England, number 1102983.

Yours Sincerely

Colin Simpson

<FONT color=#000080>Caroline Hobbs' story

My story is a sad o­ne, but then are so many others. It all began in 1987 when we moved into our house in Detling, we had wanted to move to the country mainly to give our three children Jo, Paul and Tom a better chance in life. Away from gangs and, maybe as they got older drugs as well. 

It was January when we viewed our house and it had been a bad winter, with lots of snow. It looked really pretty and we fell in love with the house.

The road was quiet and we didn't know the road, as Paul and myself were not originally from Maidstone. 

Not long after we moved in, we were to learn that the year before the lady who lived opposite us had been killed while crossing the road. This had happened o­n the 16th December 1986, ironically the same date fifteen years later we were to suffer our great loss. 

We were also to hear of other fatalities and incidents, we tried to dismiss our fears, and carried o­n with our lives, which included two more children Ben and Jade. 

Jade, who we called our little gift from God as she was the o­nly o­ne we hadn't planned for.

We went through our days and nights with the sounds of accidents, people knocking at our doors, bringing people into our house, giving them cups of tea, as well as the police, who had by this time become to know us well. 

We would take blankets out and even held a gentleman, the year before Jade died, o­n Boxing Day, while his wife died in the car. He died six weeks later.

I would listen as my two secondary school children and their friends would try and cross the road in the mornings to reach the other side to catch the bus, and I would wait in fear for the hoots of the vehicles, as they would spot the bus coming down the hill and risk their life's to reach the other side, so as not to miss the bus.

As I took my younger children to the school and playschool o­n the other side, just a 2 minute walk, it would take half an hour. Jumping off and o­n and off the pavement and then running across the road. 

Sometimes I dragged my children o­n their knees just so we didn't get knocked down.

Then you would get the drivers who would toot their car horns or even drive at you, as if to say, "you're mad crossing this road." Maybe they were unaware that we had no choice. 

So eventually most of us that could would take our cars o­n this little journey across the road. Even that was taking your life in your hands.

As you may guess things didn't improve. It was to get worse, much worse.

When Jade was about o­ne year old, o­ne of my elder daughter's friends horse had got out and been knocked down. My husband went out to try and pull it from the road as the cars sped by, having a quick gloat as they passed.

Putting a rope around the horse to enable him to drag it away from the road with his Land Rover, he discovered that the horse had been decapitated. 

When the head was finally found it had been catapulted high over the trees into the waterworks opposite our house.

The fear of the road set in badly after this, I would have nightmares, horse riders stopped going across, as the traffic had increased so much, walkers and cyclists dwindled, and I started to wonder what I could do. 

But before I did, when Jade was just three, I was outside our house when Tom and Ben came out from the back garden to see me, but our Boxer Dog who was just nine months old followed.

I then witnessed the death of our beloved pet, and I knew I couldn't go o­n doing nothing. We had door closers put o­n our front door, so that Jade wouldn't be able to get out. 

I then mounted a campaign. I organised photo calls with the residents o­n our side of the village, spoke to councillors and told the press that a child was going to die, little knowing that seven years latter my prediction was to come true.

We asked for pedestrian warning signs and a 50 mph speed limit with cameras just as an interim measure. Ideally we wanted a bridge or an underpass. But we were given nothing, not even the signs to warn drivers that people crossed there. 

They told us they couldn't put speed cameras in, as the road was to dangerous to maintain them. So it went o­n. 

A big demonstration o­n County Show Day, that would show them. 

So I got newsletters, petitions, informed the Police and the press of what I intended to do, then I called at every house in Detling, If people were not in then I would return when they were, I had to get everyone's support otherwise it would be useless.

My husband was getting fed up with me, as I was spending so much time o­n trying to organise the demonstration, but when the day arrived, we had horse riders, ramblers, cyclists, parish councillors, the media, police and our side of the village, with a handful from the other side.

It was a good demonstration, but had the other side supported us maybe we may or may not have made an impact. 

I tried to carry o­n, but no o­ne would budge, too expensive, not enough dead, excuse after excuse. But when invited to cross the road themselves, they declined, asking if we thought they were mad.

There is no answer to that is there?

Anyway as you know my prediction came true in the cruellest way possible.

Then even that wasn't enough for them. After an extraordinary meeting o­n the 9th of January 2001 we were told that we would not have a safe crossing for at least another five years. My reply was that if they would not build it then I would, I didn't know how, but I knew that if I would not stop this time. 

So that same night a committee was born and the Jade Crossing fund started with £67.07 which was Jade's life savings, and with the help of the media for whom I will forever be grateful, as well as all the kind people who responded to our call for help, we started to bring in approximately £10,000 a month.

We went to Downing Street with 11.000 signatures. We held a sit down demonstration o­n the road, of course with the help of the police, but the main thing was we always kept our dignity, because if we had lost that, we would have lost it to Jade and mum. It wasn't the way to go. 

The Council were backed in a corner. They were not expecting the support that we had, or indeed the money we were raising.

Jades Crossing was opened o­n 31st of August 2002. We now have the quality of life we deserved, but it took a high price to pay. 

The Jade Appeal is now named as a charity for the education of road safety in Kent. 

We have already donated £5,000 to the Kent road safety partnership for a video called 'If o­nly' which has gone out to all secondary schools and youth clubs in Kent and also some colleges have asked for it. 

The video is aimed at our teenagers and promoting them to ask their peers to slow down while driving.

We have also given money to a school in Thanet for tabards to start a walking school bus.

We are currently giving £5,000 to promote a walking school bus calendar to KCC which will go to 20,000 school children in the Canterbury and Thanet area .

There is so much we can do to help our needy schools if we can keep the funding and the profile going. We have the backing of many safety organizations. 

The day I lost my little girl and mother, was the day that part of me died, and I guess like most parents who lose a child, this is the case for them also.

But for me, I discovered an incredible fight in me that I did not know I had.

The fight for a safe quality of life and a fight for change. This I feel will always be with me, for the rest of my life. Although I have felt the need for change since the day we moved into our pretty little village, something inside of me snapped.

There are more people dying o­n our roads than any other way, that is apart from illness. 

Will the authorities and the national media continue to ignore this, by continuing to sweep it under the carpet, as just another death?

Let us face the facts. If there were three airplane crashes in o­ne year, with no survivors, there would be an outcry.

If there were three Paddington rail crashes each year killing eight hundred passengers there would be hell to pay, but if eight hundred pedestrians die o­n our roads and the number continues growing, then that's ok.

In an age when we are striving to encourage our young people to get more exercise and reduce road traffic accidents in Kent, I find it unbelievable that there can be an issue, as to where and what the money that Tesco's has so kindly donated to the City of Canterbury is spent. 

Where is the commonsense of bringing further vehicles into the Whitstable? That will certainly be the case if another car park is built 

Not o­nly will this further increase pollution and endanger the lives of pedestrians, but it will also bring more congestion into Whitstable and Canterbury. 

I get totally fed up with the priority given to the motor car. After all were we born with wheels? I think not. So how about a little thought for those who enjoy our countryside, you know, the so called beautiful Garden of England.

Let us stop being a nation of selfishness and give a thought to those who use what God gave them. You know those limbs we call legs. I expect you may be wondering, why I have become involved with the fight for the Crab and Winkle Line Trust. You may not see a connection. Well let me explain.

Firstly Jade's Crossing was never just about safety, but also about a quality of life, not just for the village, but for the travellers of the Pilgrims Way, which like your route has an interesting history.

In fact the Pilgrims last stop is in Canterbury. Each year many walkers and cyclists travel this route, with the junction of Jades Crossing being the most dangerous of their journey. It has been with great pleasure that I was able to set some of these o­n their journey, and in turn be able to see them cross safely and without Police escort for the first time since they have made the journey to Canterbury.

Let us all start thinking of others and consider the dreadful fact, that yes it could happen to you, and replace this vital missing link that could o­nly be an asset to Canterbury and Whitstable. Think of the enjoyment that could be had by all.

The walking school buses that could be set up, with a safe route to school.

Think of the children being able to cycle to school, or indeed just go for a safe bike ride. 

Think of the elderly, but most of all think of others.

Caroline Hobbs

Could the right answer be incriminating?

Contributed by editor on May 16, 2006 - 08:22 PM


Dear Ed,

Re: Councillor Carey looks to parliamentary seat
I hope that if Ms Carey gets her parliamentary seat it will enable her to answer questions fully, as opposed to always going back to towing the party line with her answers which seem to have the same content.

I notice that the question o­n taking the right to educate our children in a christian manner, has not been fully responded to. Is this because anything but the right answer could be very incriminating?

To succeed in politics Ms Carey, you will be met with much more uncompromising questions than these. 


Take the debate to the people

Contributed by editor on May 16, 2006 - 08:04 PM


Dear Ed,

Re: Well done Susan.

Susan Carey, 'Taken the debate to the people' , I'm not so sure!

I am disappointed that Susan Carey does not see it as a priority to attend the Public Meeting (22/5) which has been called by Councillor Tearle in order to debate the proposed closure of Selsted School in a public arena.

I understand that Ms. Carey has a prior commitment to a meeting at St. Marys Bay, however surely as our Local County Councillor her duty is here, to us and not to Romney Marsh.

I also question how much input Ms. Carey will have at the meeting she is choosing to attend where she will be o­ne of many councillors present. Given the current situation surely it is within her power to to make the public meeting her priority, where she could perhaps answer some of our questions.

Is truly so important that Ms.Carey be in St. Marys Bay o­n Monday evening or is that she does not relish the idea of being exposed unsupported to a questioning public, preferring to wait until the 14th June when she has an Education officer to lean o­n.

In all fairness to Ms. Carey she is a busy lady. Between her active website debates with 'the people' she fulfils many other roles. Ms. Carey is Lead Member for Education, (supporting the Cabinet Member for Education) which in turn brought other appointments with it including SOAB, Kent Schools Organisation Committee and interestingly SACRE (Standing Advisory Council o­n Religious Education).' The broad role of SACRE is to support effective provision of RE and Collective Worship in schools" (SACRE' Annual report 2004-2005).

It would indeed be difficult to explain exactly how advocating the closure of o­ne of the few church schools in the area sits comfortably with the role of SACRE.

Public debate would indeed be welcomed as it would seem that there is an unseen agenda (as implied in previous letters) to which we are not yet a party. It would appear that our own councillor, Ms. Carey seems to be more interested in her own career than the future of our children.

As Ms.Carey stated '105 places is a significant contribution to reducing the surplus places in our area' (13/5/06) - a fact which I'm sure would not go unnoticed in a political arena. I do not want Selsted School to become a statistical notch o­n a political bedpost at the expense of our children.

As a parent of a child at Selsted School, we have another child joining the reception class in September I would welcome the chance to hear what Ms. Carey has to say. I  feel that Susan Carey should review her priorities and face up to her responsibilities by attending the public meeting o­n Monday. In doing this she would truly take the debate to the people.

Sarah Redmond

Councillor Carey looks to parliamentary seat

Contributed by editor on May 16, 2006 - 04:37 PM



Susan Carey

Kent County and Shepway District Councillor Susan Carey, could be fighting for Michael Howard's Folkestone and Hythe Parliamentary seat in the next general election following Mr Howard's decision not the stand again.

Susan was picked after an interview in London last Friday (12 May) for a place on the list of local prospective candidates.

If she is put forward by the local party she would be up against candidates on the national A list. These could include former Tory spokesman for education Tim Collins and the former MP Howard Flight. 

Mr Flight was sacked from his deputy chairman's post by Michael Howard in March 2005 after secretly being taped saying his party would go further than the planned spending cuts.

Empty and broken promises

Contributed by editor on May 16, 2006 - 12:15 PM


Dear Ed,

Re: Education promises should be kept

Well said Colin Tearle

It would appear that empty and broken promises are the order of the day at present!

When our local councillor has blatantly flaunted the fact that she will be proposing closure of Selsted Church of England School, your statement becomes even more relevant!


Education promises should be kept

Contributed by editor on May 16, 2006 - 10:31 AM


Dear Ed,

For many years both the Government and the Local Education Authority (LEA) have consistently promoted parental freedom of choice for schools. Indeed this is enshrined within the various Education Acts.

You can imagine my surprise when the LEA want to curtail that right locally.

That right is to send your child to a Church School, but there is o­nly o­ne in the area, and that is Selsted School.

Does anyone remember the myriad of promises made at the last General and County Elections. No, probably not, but I do remember o­ne, about keeping and expanding religious education and I quote:

'A commitment to a major expansion of faith schools is absolutely at the heart of the Conservative vision for better education in the 21st.century.

Parents want them. Children benefit from them. Society is stronger for them.

Conservative policy is for the state to support these provided they accept Ofsted inspection and teach the national curriculum.'. This was all proposed by the then Tory Education spokesman Tim Collins who went o­n to promise a major expansion of religious schools.

This was understood by many to be a major platform by which Michael Howard (Conservative Party Leader and our own MP) and thus the Tories fought both the General and County Elections locally and nationally.

The means by which such a policy is enacted is through the LEA, which in our case is Conservative controlled.

I do hope these were not promises made to curry favour with our urban cousins to lure them away from the Labour Party and were not meant for implementation in the rural hinterland.

I must make it perfectly clear that I have no religious agenda, just an old fashion belief that promises made, should be honoured.

Colin Tearle Chairman Swingfield Parish Council