MP leads local campaign against pavement parking -alongside Staplehurst's Sobell Lodge Staff and Residents

'Parking on Pavements is hazardous, and here's the proof' said Maidstone & the Weald MP Helen Grant during a visit to Staplehurst on Friday 21st August.

On a recent previous visit, Helen and Tracy Haith, the Sobell Lodge Service Manager, had discussed the difficulties wheelchair users had with cars parking on pavements and with accessibility to the local bank and shops.

With a team of residents and volunteers from Leonard Cheshire disability home Sobell Lodge, together with Parish Councillor Peter Spearink, Helen led the banner wielding campaign column along Staplehurst High Street putting leaflets on cars parked on pavements and talking to passers by.

Helen said: 'I think for the most part, drivers are unaware of problems caused to pedestrians when they park on the pavement, thinking instead that this will minimise the impact on through traffic. In fact the practice can force pedestrians to step into the road because they restrict the width of the pavement. It especially affects those with pushchairs, wheelchairs or mobility scooters and also damages the pavements causing people to trip'.

She added 'we've chosen today at random but just look at how many vehicles there are on the pavements on the arterial main road through the village of Staplehurst, the infamous A229'.

Campaign leaflets were prepared jointly with Sobell Lodge and Helen hopes the publicity will help educate drivers to recognise the impact of their actions on pedestrians throughout her constituency and beyond.

Helen also talked to the managers of local stores praising those with permanent ramps, such as Corals the bookmaker, and suggesting to others with temporary access ramps to consider improvements for wheelchair access.

Kent Messenger Column - 28-08-15 - Commuter News

Commuting to London can be the bane of working life for many. I share the angst being a regular rail user myself and I have spent much time engaging with our transport providers to seek improvements over the years.

This week I was pleased to learn of two developments that could ease the load for the people of Maidstone and the Weald.

First up is the launch of a new 'guaranteed seat' commuter service to compete with the railways. Run by The Kings Ferry, new bespoke coaches will pick up throughout Maidstone, Grove Green and Weavering and deliver commuters to London locations including Canary Wharf, Fenchurch Street, Millenium Bridge and my own stop - Embankment.

I am told that at a cost of less than £10 per day, this will provide the cheapest means of commuting to London from Maidstone, undercutting the lowest cost 4 week rail ticket by £133 and an annual ticket by an impressive £1,785.

Commencing on October 5th 2015 climate control and power sockets are standard. There's also an 'app' available for journey planning and service updates.

To attract new customers the company are offering a two week free trial or eight weeks for the price of four. Commuters making the move from the train or other coach services can take advantage of a 'Ticket Trade-in' offer. More info available here;

The other good news this week is for rail passengers with the go-ahead being given for smart flexible ticketing in Kent under the Government funded South Eastern Flexible Ticketing programme. Benefits include online purchasing, reduced queuing, more robust tickets and quicker entry through automatic barriers.

Planned to commence from December 2016 smart cards will operate seamlessly between different train companies across the region and offer potential for more flexible ticketing products that could not work on paper-based tickets.

Good to see progress but there's lots more to do.


Helen's weekly column is published every Friday in the Kent Messenger.  The content shown here may differ slightly from the press version.

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