Pledge 4 | Protect the Environment and Invest in Sustainable Transport

Promoting use of sustainable transport to tackle congestion

Reducing congestion should be a priority for us all and this means reducing incentives for car use, better cycling and walking routes, more investment in public transport and improving air quality, especially along major transport routes. Cycling rates in Tunbridge Wells are far too low and KCC and TWBC have been too slow in working on initiatives to see more residents shift to sustainable transport options such as cycling. We would like to see more young people and their parents/guardians have the confidence in it being safe to cycle to school. This relies on improving road safety, reducing speeding and dangerous driving and installing more dedicated cycle lanes.

Traffic congestion, air pollution and poor public transport impact on the quality of life for residents. We need to reduce reliance on the car (especially for short journeys) and reclaim the streets from pollution. Public transport is often unreliable, inefficient and too expensive. In rural areas bus services are woefully inadequate and add to rural isolation and poverty. We need to encourage more residents to cycle and walk, providing incentives to do so and disincentives to use the car.

Recycling and waste

We are concerned that new charges to pay for garden waste (the brown bin tax) and existing charges such as £38 for one bulky waste item will increase fly tipping and does not help to ensure residents to do the right thing to protect our environment.

Protecting our greenspaces

Tunbridge Wells has wonderful greenspaces and is a key attraction of the towns and villages and Borough as a place to visit. Protecting these spaces is vital and any loss of parts of parks and greenspaces for large scale development is the thin end of the wedge.

Accessibility

The needs of disabled people, families with young children and older people should be paramount when making major changes such as large scale pedestrianisation of the town centre. While such initiatives to ‘reclaim the streets’ are broadly welcomed it is important to consider the importance of bus routes/stops and taxi ranks being retained so that they do not unduly impact on those who have difficulty walking significant distances.

Parking and roads

Our built environment is increasingly becoming run down and in need of renewal. Kent County Council has not dealt with the backlog of road and pothole repairs and our pavements are in a terrible state in many parts of the Borough. Parking problems are a huge irritation for residents with roads often blocked to emergency vehicles and pavements impassable due to inconsiderately parked vehicles. The removal of short term free parking to support our shops is a source of concern to residents and businesses alike and meaningful consultation should take place to demonstrate that there is public support before proceeding with such plans. Lack of parking enforcement outside of Tunbridge Wells town centre is also a huge problem especially around Paddock Wood train station.

What we propose

There are a number of practical ways in which we can improve the environment, pedestrian safety and provide better public transport:

a) Explore the feasibility of a park and ride scheme to reduce the number of cars coming in to the centre of Tunbridge Wells.
b) The use of electric or hydrogen powered buses in Tunbridge Wells needs to be encouraged with diesel vehicles phased out.
c) Increase pedestrianisation of the centre of Tunbridge Wells.
d) Lobby and pressure transport providers to offer cheaper tickets particularly for low income residents and under 25’s.
e) Increase recycling rates, abolish the Garden Waste tax and reintroduce free bulky waste collections to reduce fly tipping.
f) Support enhancements to pedestrian safety such as 20s Plenty zones and initiatives to increase cycling such as dedicated cycle lanes.
g) Support residents who wish to see permit parking zones introduced in their area to deal with commuter and town centre parking and ensure these are properly enforced

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