J5Slips.org Campaigning for a safer and improved traffic community for our people Tim Shaw – Chairman J5Slips.org October 2009 (www.j5slips.org) Who are you and what do you do? I am Tim Shaw. I was born and bred in Borough Green and have lived in the village all my life. I am married to Sonia and have 3 daughters. I am a campaigner for improving the constant hellish traffic onslaught within the wider community. I have given my time over many years to help improve the safety to local residents and set up the Borough Green Traffic Action Group (BGTAG) which has successfully achieved 3 essential pedestrian crossings in the village. As a group BGTAG have also been responsible for the grass roots campaign to re-instate the overdue Borough Green and Platt Bypass. Although these are local road schemas I also became very aware of the wider community need of removing freight from the doorsteps of all the villages along the A20/A227 and A25. To help the wider community of villages I set up a group to campaign for the missing slip roads at Sevenoaks named J5Slips.org and in September 2008 I was elected chairman. How did you get started? After the shock announcement that the 1991 Borough Green and Platt Bypass planning permission had expired, I decided to not only fight for the re-instatement of the bypass approval but realised that there were many more villages as well as Borough Green and Platt also suffering terribly from freight passing their schools and doorsteps. The whole community from Malling to Sevenoaks and Tonbridge were suffering as a consequence of these missing slip roads at Sevenoaks to connect the M26 to the A21. I thus contacted all the local parish councils with a view to them sending a single representative to a meeting in Wrotham in September 2008 whereby J5Slips.org was initiated and setup. I also invited representatives from CPRE, Keep Boroughs Green, local societies and traffic action groups. It has grown in the past year to be a very powerful non – political campaign group with an Executive committee and an Environmental Committee that has membership from parish, borough and county councillors as well as full support from MPs. Whats the best thing about what you do? As a campaigner for improving the quality of life for our community, it is very much about engaging with the public and giving them a belief that we can actually have an improved Quality of life if we really want to do something about the passing freight. It is very challenging to convince people to believe that their personal support to the campaign shall see these slip roads built. People feel that nothing will ever change and that over many years their voices have only ever fall on deaf ears of beauracracy, politics, frustration and desperation. The challenge is often convincing our folk that their voice can count. We intend to see this campaign through and help change their lives from one of constant traffic misery to once again living in the garden of England. Having the belief that these Slip roads can be re-instated gives the confidence to actually strive to see the project through to completion and opening as soon as possible. I guess that i gain confidence from working with such a dedicated and professional cross – section of the public on the J5Slips.org team. We have representatives from all walks of life to include the butcher, the baker and politician.The project is focused on improving the safety of our people from passing juggernauts to the health of people being damaged by such poor air quality resulting from the high level of diesel emission. Whilst people do realise just how dangerous our roads are, no one really knows just how damaging the diesel pollution is to our children’s lungs. The A25 from Malling to Sevenoaks has designated Air Quality Management Areas which only achieve this status if they are dangerously high in pollution. Who or what are you influenced by? People who are prepared to support me in recognising that juggernauts passing our schools, shops, homes and post offices on our A and B roads cannot be a good thing and needs challenging. Those members of the public whom share my belief that it is completely wrong for passing freight to be thundering through, damaging our villages and endangering our children’s health and safety simply because the highways network is totally inadequate with no motorway connectivity at Sevenoaks. I am shocked whenever i read that local authorities state that nothing can be done to reduce the dangerously high diesel pollution levels at Riverhead, Bat and Ball, Seal or Borough Green. When i hear that the complete stretch of the A25 Sevenoaks is in reality all but classified as one Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) because the air quality is so bad. Well our message to all the government, authorities and offices of public responsibility is give the passing through freight the opportunity to travel on the M26 rather than the A20, A25 and A227. But to achieve this there has to be connectivity between the M26 and A21 at Junction 5 Sevenoaks. The missing slip roads are the answer to this very dangerous health and safety warning and we all need to act now. What is your main ambition? To see our community quality of life restored to normal. Too see freight travelling between the M26 and A21 rather than passing by our children on their way to school and damaging their tiny lungs from unknown diesel pollution. Too see our communities returning to a sense of normality rather than ruined by a constant onslaught of traffic and primarily passing through International freight. Too see people going about their daily lives rather than always having to look over their shoulders for juggernauts. To see our villages in the garden of England blossom again rather than wither from diesel pollution. To see both UK and European governments recognising that this is not a local regional issue but a highly strategic international transport issue. What would you like to plug? I would like to plug the website www.J5Slips.org and ask the public to support both the group and their local parish council whenever they can and are asked to do so. J5Slips.org are a non – political group of local people from all walks of life simply trying to raise the big concern of health, safety and quality of life impact on the community through the missing slip roads at Sevenoaks. I would like to plug the fact that the group have never or ever intended to prophesise to have the answer to the design of the slips but only to raise the issue of the impact that the missing slips are now having on every village from Malling to Sevenoaks to Tonbridge. The challenge is a big one – to convince the government to spend the money that they do not currently have in a time of economical meltdown and in an area where they would least wish to spend our money. However, the cost is deemed to be peanuts in the scale of things from a strategic UK , European and International perspective. Considering this almost insignificant cost and the tremendous benefits to be achieved by the overwhelming majority of our constituents suffering a constant traffic nightmare, it would be one of the best investments for decades. On behalf of J5Slips.org thank you for your continued support to see these slip roads built.