John F. Kennedy once said “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” That certainly applies to Hoo resident Ted Smith.
Ted, an active member of the Hoo Neighbourhood Plan team and a founder member of Hoo Stop Line Heritage Trail group has worked tirelessly to save four Second World War pillboxes and a roadblock, all part of the Hoo stop Line. This culminated in an application to add this defensive structures to the list of buildings of Special Architectural Interest.
Ted said, ” One small victory in our fight to preserve Hoo Peninsula. After fifteen months I have managed to secure Grade 2 listing for a group of WW2 pillboxes and road barrier plinths. With the continuing development spreading along Stoke Road, Hoo, I felt it was important to protect these first. I hope there are others who feel like taking up the cudgel to protect a lot more of the peninsula assets. This is part of the message I have received from Historic England:-
“Dear Ted, Thank you for your response. Your proposal for the re-excavation of the anti-tank ditch as a SuDS measure is very interesting and would certainly add to the physical context of the pillboxes if adopted.
I will let you know the DCMS’s decision regarding the listing case in due course.”……..
………”Group of four Second World War pillboxes and a roadblock (section of the Hoo Stop Line), Hoo St Werburgh – grant Listed Building Status.
Following your application to add the above World War II defensive structures to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, we have now considered all the representations made and completed our assessment of the building. I am pleased to inform you that having considered our recommendation, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has decided to add the group of four Second World War pillboxes and a roadblock (section of the Hoo Stop Line), Hoo St Werburgh to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. The structures are now listed at Grade II.”
Further investigations after the tragic fatal accident that cost Mr Brian Durden his life on Monday 26th October at Four Elms Hill highlights the procrastination and complete lack of action by Medway Council over the problem of our only and unsustainable route on and off of the Peninsula.
At a Medway Rural Liaison Committee in December 2015 requested by High Halstow Parish Council regarding the installation of speed cameras and a contingency plan for traffic when accidents or blockages occur on the Peninsula section of A228, Medway’s principal engineer confirmed he would be submitting an initial plan to the relevant portfolio holder on the 4th December 2015. He also confirmed he would clarify figures relating to fatalities on this section of the road.
Fast forward to March 2017, again in response to a request from High Halstow Parish Council, a report setting out the current status of the A228 Hoo Peninsula Route Diversion Strategy was received. It was explained that the A228 was the primary route to the Hoo Peninsula and that beyond Stoke it was the only route to the Isle of Grain. Historically, there had been numerous occasions when the A228 had been closed to deal with incidents/accidents where it was necessary to create a diversion around the incident despite a very limited number of alternative routes . Whilst it was recognised that the availability of suitable diversion routes on the Peninsula was limited, a Diversion Route Strategy had been drawn up providing positive signage to try to manage traffic flows. This had been as a result of the original consultation with Ward and Parish Council Members in 2015.
Cost estimates had been obtained for the production and erection of new signage, but the roll out of strategy had not progressed beyond the 2015/16 financial year due to funding availability. Given the length of time that had now passed, it was considered that the strategy and associated signage recommendations required updating. In addition, the suitability of the old carriageway.
Fast forwarding again to March 2019… A228 DIVERSION ROUTES Discussion: The Committee received a detailed report setting out proposals for implementing traffic diversion routes in the event of accidents or incidents on the A228 between Four Elms Hill Roundabout and Grain. It was noted that the A228 was the only ‘A’ road linking the centre of Medway to its northern areas including Hoo, the Isle of Grain, Upper and Lower Stoke and Allhallows and that the only nominated diversion route currently in place used the Ratcliffe Highway, which ran parallel with the A228 between the junctions of Main Road Hoo and Bells Lane. The diversion came into effect when the parallel section of the A228 was closed. There were currently no other formal diversion routes in place along this section of the A228 which meant that when an accident or incident occurred, traffic either diverted onto unsuitable roads or waited for the carriageway to re-open causing congestion and delays.
The Head of Integrated Transport informed the Committee that officers had divided the A228 into sections and identified a number of diversion routes that could be implemented when incidents occurred on the A228, details of which were set out in the report and highlighted on maps attached to the report as appendices. The proposed diversion routes had been prepared over a number of years and had previously been the subject of consultation with Parish Councils in 2016 and 2017.
Whilst the provision of diversion routes was not a legal requirement, the implementation of the diversion routes along with appropriate signing would cost in the region of £20,000 and the outcomes of the scheme would align with the Council’s Local Transport Plan priorities and could therefore be funded by monies received from Central Government. Subject to the comments of the Committee, officers proposed to place the scheme before the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services for approval.
The Committee discussed the report, and the Parish Council representatives made the following observations:
A number of the routes selected are not suitable for HGV’s.
Reliance on satellite navigation and how this could be prevented when a diversion is in place.
Whether a holding area for HGV lorries was still in place on the Peninsula.
There was a need to communicate to the local farmer and publican in Cooling when a diversion was in place or there were emergency closures as both businesses attract the majority of traffic going through the village. Action could then be taken to notify the drivers of large vehicles that would be visiting their premises.
In response to concerns regarding use of the diversion routes by HGV’s, the Head of Integrated Transport advised that in recognition of this issue, sections of the diversion routes would be made one way only. In addition, he confirmed that on some roads weight restrictions were in place. He confirmed that Operation Overflow was still in place if this was needed and he agreed to discuss with staff within his team the need for improved communication with businesses in Cooling when there were to be diversions or road closures. The Head of Integrated Transport confirmed that the proposed diversion signage would be permanently in place but would clearly indicate that it was only relevant when a road closure was in place.
These comments are from official Council minutes of Rural Liaison Committee: So, we have to ask WHY are residents still losing their lives? WHY are our ‘B’ roads gridlocked? WHY do Kent Police stand by and watch HGVs use a totally unsuitable country lane causing gridlock? Could it be that Medway Council have put a price on the lives of Peninsula residents? Do they consider speed cameras, which costs on average £100k a mile for average speed cameras, so a cost of £400k from Four Elms roundabout to High Halstow completed linked system? £400k after the millions and millions they are making from developments on the peninsula. £400k is that too much to prevent yet another family feeling the crushing pain of losing a loved one?
Medway tunnel has speed cameras, Frindsbury Hill has speed cameras, but there are no speed reduction cameras on Peninsula Way. It seems that they really do treat us as second-class citizens on the Peninsula, and so in memory of Brian Durden and all of the others maimed or killed on the altar of ‘cost saving’ on our one and only road on and off the Peninsula, we must come together and demand safer roads and better protection for both pedestrians and vehicles. The A228 Peninsula way is unsustainable now and certainly cannot sustain 12000 new homes for the future Make your voice heard here by commenting.
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