- Posted by: Canterbury Labour
- Category: News
If you listen to some people who oppose the zones – often the same people who don’t like Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – there is no difference. But in fact, there is almost nothing similar in the two ideas: one is a big stick to force change, the other is a sizeable carrot to encourage change.
In short: a zoning scheme like that proposed for Canterbury would end easy traffic movement around the City. It would penalise people trying to drive from their home to the supermarket, doctors, cinema, city centre, hospital and school. It is a negative response which would stop freedom of movement. Labour is wholly opposed to the idea and if elected we will not implement it.
A “15 minute community” though, is completely different. It doesn’t stop anyone driving anywhere. It doesn’t penalise people who have to use their car, and it doesn’t require creating zonal ghettos. Instead, the “15 minute City” concept tries to create communities centred on amenities to which residents can get easy access on foot or by bicycle, within 15 minutes of their home. Those amenities might include primary schools, doctors’ surgery, a pub, various shops, bus stops, playgrounds and playing fields, church and so on. But it recognises that not every necessary facility can be provided in that way – secondary schools, hospitals and theatres being obvious examples – then people still need to be able to get to those sorts of place by car and bus as well as on foot or bike. That is Labour’s preferred model for developing not only our City, but both Whitstable and Herne Bay, as a means of not only solving our traffic problems but of creating places to live which are green, healthy and pleasant.
Will this on its own solve the traffic problems in the City? Of course not, especially if the Conservatives’ plans for massive housebuilding to the south of the City are allowed to continue. Those problems have a number of causes, not one of which would be solved by the zoning scheme. Congestion usually occurs at two peak times of day, when school pupils are being dropped off and collected. That is in part because the District’s secondary schools are concentrated (but not all) in the south of the City. So Labour would build more secondary schools on the coast to help relieve that pressure.
But in the end, the City and, to some extent this applies to extent central Whitstable too, has a traffic problem because it is impossible to create more road space in dense urban areas. The Tories plan is to spend £163 million building an Eastern bypass which no-one seems to want. That would have very little impact on the real problem, because it will only divert 13% of the City inner ring road traffic, at massive cost to the fragile environment between Bekesbourne and Fordwich. Instead, Labour would spend some of the £163 million to provide free park-and-ride into the City and Whitstable, and to provide regular, reliable and low cost bus services all around the City. Again, that’s an incentive to help people reduce their use of cars, reduce their costs, and above all reduce the total amount of traffic trying to access our town and City centres.