Published: 09:30, 06 April 2017
Faversham Town Council has been accused of ignoring the results of its own survey by pressing ahead with double yellow lines around the Guildhall.
The decision comes despite overwhelming opposition to the restriction.
Councillors have turned their backs on the results of the Faversham Voice poll and will ask Swale council to put the lines around the Market Place hall.
The yellow lines issue has been debated for years, with disagreement over painting on the historic cobbles.
When councillors proposed double yellow lines in the town centre, a campaign was launched to stop it, with a petition gaining more than 300 signatures and even a town centre protest.
Councillors eventually agreed to paint the lines in Court Street and Preston Street, but not around the Guildhall.
However, drivers discovering the loophole ended up nose-to-nose around the historic building as they could park all day for free, causing more issues for traders.
Award-winning architect Tim Stonor who has campaigned tirelessly to rid Faversham’s historic streets of yellow lines, says people feel “badly let down by their representatives” .
More than 400 people filled out the first ever Faversham Voice form last year, and just 15% voted for double yellows around the Guildhall.
Mr Stonor, of Tanners Street, had designed his own plan for the town centre which had won the support of many people, but says his scheme was ignored at Monday’s town council meeting.
"People in Faversham feel badly let down by their elected representatives." - Tim Stonor
Members voted six to two for the yellow lines, with four abstentions, and Mr Stonor said afterwards he was “staggered at the gall of our local representatives”.
He added: “The council was asked to vote on a false choice between yellow lines and gates.
“The other options developed, which included 20-30 minute parking or an extended plinth around the Guildhall were not presented so councillors were therefore not given a proper vote.
“So much work has been undertaken by so many people at considerable cost of time and resource by the town council and to see that thrown away in a misleading debate was greatly disappointing.
“It’s clear from the many messages I’ve already received that people in Faversham feel badly let down by their elected representatives.
Cllr Antony Hook (Lib Dem) and Cllr Claire Belsom (Independent) both voted against the lines.
Cllr Hook asked at the meeting for additional options to be explored, other than gates in Court Street and double yellow lines.
He said afterwards: “The idea of double yellow lines, backed by most of the Conservative councillors, was roundly rejected by the public in the consultation.
“Double yellow lines are at odds with the historic look of the Guildhall and will spoil its appearance.
“The town council has once again gone against the expressed wishes of local people and that is wrong.”
Mr Stonor added: “With former presidents of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Royal Town Planning Institute against the painting of yellow lines around Faversham’s historic Guildhall, as well as knighted architects and the chairman of the Academy of Urbanism, you might take notice of the issue.
“When 85% of people voting in a public poll also oppose the idea you would do well to sit up and pay attention.
“But what did Faversham Town Council do? Quite the opposite.
“It voted to ignore both the experts and the public. It voted to deface a cherished building by painting yellow lines around it – yellow lines that will continue to allow people to park in front of the building and that will leave us all staggered at the gall of our elected representatives.”
The decision will be passed to the Swale Borough Council Joint Transportation Board.