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Andy Lawrence stops the traffic in Mortimer Street

Local hero Andy Lawrence has been putting himself at risk, trying to keep Mortimer Street safe from idiot motorists. Drivers who are too stupid to read the traffic signs, or too selfish to take any notice, are driving along the street when it should be treated as a pedestrianised zone.

There's a simple and cheap solution (a lockable barrier across the road) but our Council has been dragging its heels, so Andy has taken to enforcing the traffic regulations himself. One local councillor who accepts there's a problem - Cllr Andrew Cook - wants to make sure the majority of traders want the barrier.

Cllr Cook sits on the Council's ruling Executive and holds the portfolio for Community Safety, and for Health, amongst others. Community Safety, and Health, is being endangered because the traffic regulations are not being enforced. (Where are the police and the newly empowered traffic wardens when you need them?)

The law isn't being enforced - presumably the powers that be would plead budget cuts. I had thought the Conservatives were the "Law and Order" party. There's no need to carry out a survey to find out whether the law should be enforced - just make it impossible to break that particular law. Install the barrier. Now.

Pedestrians are being put at risk by drivers ignoring traffic restrictions in the town centre, traders claim. And they have accused council bosses of stalling over a cheap solution that would make the town centre safer.

Officials are considering a plan to install a lockable barrier at the bottom of Mortimer Street, costing £1,500. It was suggested at the start of the summer, but no progress has been made. Meanwhile, a shopkeeper who was manning temporary signs reminding people of the closures says he is not prepared to continue because of the abuse from motorists. Andrew Lawrence, 43. who runs the Speciality Food Store in Mortimer Street, said:

"I did it for four weeks. but no longer for my own sanity. I’m not insured and I don't work for the council. So if there was an accident or I dropped the sign on someone, who would be responsible? People get very emotional when told they can't do something, and I've been told they are coming through whether I like it or not, because they have always parked there or driven up the road."

The dad-of-five, who has run the shop for four years, met councillors and other traders to discuss the problem and councillor Peter Lee came up with a design for a lockable barrier that could be lifted and lowered. He said:

"Four shops would hold the key it would be locked upright at certain times and lowered to provide a physical barrier. Deliveries could still get through, and it could easily be opened in an emergency. The best bit is that it would only cost £1,500 - a tiny amount for a council that has £1 million of taxpayers' money sitting in the bank. But it seems they don't care about the people who are in danger from the cars whizzing up here at speed - only about keeping their cash."

Town centre manager Chris West was due to present a report on the issue to Herne Bay councillors at a meeting on Tuesday night, and said he planned to consult businesses before proposing a more permanent solution. Councillor Andrew Cook said it was important to get all traders’ views before proceeding. He said:

"I don't think there's a single councillor who would be against this, but we need to make sure it is what the majority of businesses want. I stood out there with Andrew for ten minutes and saw six cars go up there, and none had a legal reason to do so. But everything has to go through the correct procedures and the bureaucracy that goes with that."

Cllr Cook suggested an interim solution may be possible if someone else could be found to take over responsibility for the sign.

HB Times 13th Sep 2012

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