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Let us do what we can, Goudhurst Parish Council tells Kent Highways

Kent County Council should stop sticking rigidly to the rules and start recognising the practicalities on the ground.

That was the message from Goudhurst Parish Council chairman Antony Harris to Kent Highways.

Goudhurst High Street (16225118)
Goudhurst High Street (16225118)

Mr Harris said that Goudhurst had a huge problem with traffic - particularly HGVs - trying to negotiate its narrow roads.

He said: "The A262 runs through the heart of Goudhurst, but we are a medieval village and there is a sharp bend in the centre where the traffic - sometimes literally - hits the church wall."

A survey last year showed that between 12,000 and 14,000 vehicles a day passed through the village - with over 100 HGVs. But all too often they get stuck and huge log-jams form.

Cllr Harris said: "All the buildings are listed, so there's nothing that can be done about the road lay-out."

However, after 80% of villagers responding to the parish council's Neighbourhood Development Plan consultation said they wanted something done about the traffic as their number one priority, the parish council has come up with a package of measures that it thinks will help - including giving priority to traffic trying to exit the village.

The chairman of Goudhurst Parish Council, Antony Harris, addresses his parishioners
The chairman of Goudhurst Parish Council, Antony Harris, addresses his parishioners

Cllr Harris said: "At the moment, when two sides meet, there is no rule about who should be giving way."

The parish has even budgeted to spend up to £20,000 on improvements, but there's a problem.

Cllr Harris said: "Kent Highways won't let us do anything. They insist that any traffic signs must have at least 100-yard sight-lines - that's just not feasible."

Goudhurst is not trying to stop traffic passing through the village, Cllr Harris acknowledged that to do so would only shift the problem on to Hawkhurst "which already has enough troubles of its own."

But it would like to see HGVs taking different routes.

Congestion in Goudhurst (16243010)
Congestion in Goudhurst (16243010)

Cllr Harris said: "KCC has a 'primary route scheme' for HGVs which takes traffic via Paddock Wood, Kings Hill and the M20. But they won't sign-post heavy vehicles to take that route because they say they should not be directing local traffic onto the motorway.

"It's a ridiculous situation. If you are at the roundabout in Lamberhurst, there's a sign saying long vehicles should not take the route to Goudhurst - but it doesn't tell them where they should go!"

Resident Charlotte Graham described a typical problem. She said: "There was a lorry stuck at the church corner. It could not clear the corner until oncoming traffic stopped, but as they couldn't see around the corner, no-one was giving way. It ended up that I had to get out of my car and direct the traffic myself because the more traffic that came around the corner, the more the high street was jammed and nothing moving!"

Cllr Harris said: "This is a far wider problem than just Goudhurst. Many villages across Kent are in a similar position.

"The county council has to show more flexibility and allow improvements that might not be ideal and tick all the boxes, but are nevertheless the best that can be achieved given the historic circumstances."

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