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Austins Lane in Sandwich to be closed over safety fears

By Eleanor Perkins

Bollards will soon prevent vehicular access to Austins Lane in Sandwich after calls from a resident who warned of catastrophic consequences otherwise.

Christine Cummings started a petition for one-way traffic down the narrow road after a gas pipe was demolished by a reversing motorist in December.

Properties nearby were evacuated. She warned that catastrophic damage and even death could occur if it was hit again, especially at night when residents are asleep.

Austins Lane, Sandwich
Austins Lane, Sandwich

Sandwich Town Council has listened to her concerns and has announced it will pay for the closure of the road this summer.

Town clerk Laura Fidler said: “Sandwich Town Council fully supports the closure of Austins Lane and this has been arranged with Kent County Council.

“A traffic regulations order (TRO) will be put in place to stop traffic and bollards will be installed.

“This will take place in the summer of 2017.”

Austins Lane is a single track two-way street linking New Street with King Street. Motorists frequently have to reverse out to allow oncoming vehicles to pass.

After December’s scare Mrs Cummings contacted Kent Highway Services at the county council. No response was received but correspondence sent to town councillor M.J. Holloway on the matter suggested KCC had already checked the safety records for the area, but it didn’t meet the criteria for intervention.

She told KentOnline: “There’s always the question of what if this had happened at night? It would only take a smoker to light a cigarette and then the whole street would go up.”

Now, delighted with the news, she said: “It’s taken a lot of time and effort but I remain very grateful for people’s support.”

The road will soon be closed to vehicles
The road will soon be closed to vehicles

The installation work has been delayed for a couple of months to coincide with other work in the town and to save the council about £1,500.

Keys to drop the bollards in the case of an emergency will be kept by the town council at The Guildhall.

Thom Morris from Kent County Council said: “Sandwich Town Council will fund the closure of Austins Lane.

“The aim is to use removable bollards so that vehicles can still access in emergencies with the town council holding a key to the bollards.

“KCC is working on proposals regarding No Name Street and the Guildhall Bus Stop and will present them to the Town Council before formally consulting with the public and all the work will take place at the same time.”

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