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Statement on Battling Congestion in Maidstone

May 2, 2018 10:34 PM

We do not normally respond to Conservative negative literature, but always keep you advised on what has been achieved and what campaigns are ongoing. However, in this case the information given in their recent leaflet is so misleading we really have no choice.

The problem of congestion in South Maidstone has been an ongoing problem for many years and while progress has been made in relation to design proposals along the A229 from Cripple Street down to Armstrong Road, including the bottleneck at the Wheatsheaf Junction, and also the Willington Street Junction on the A274, nothing has been finalised by KCC who have the overall responsibility for highways in Kent. The Conservatives recently voted to delay the proposals for Willington Street junction and then cancelled the next joint Transport Board where the changes were supposed to be discussed again.

Your local Lib Dem councillors have worked with others to try and find an answer to the awful congestion in South Maidstone.

There is cross party support for finding a solution to providing a Southern relief Road (Leeds/Langley by-pass) and Maidstone Borough Council's Lib Dem Leader, Fran Wilson, has welcomed the opportunity for constructive discussion with local Conservative MPs and KCC leadership.

Maidstone Borough Council have offered to contribute funding to the necessary scoping works to understand the various options and their impact. To date, the Conservatives at KCC have rejected our offer.

At a recent meeting with Sajid Javid MP, Conservative Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, it was made clear to MBC Leader Fran Wilson and the leaders of the other Councils across the county, that the government funding assistance that is essential to deliver a scheme that will cost tens of millions to deliver, is reliant upon an agreement to accept thousands of new homes over and above those in the Borough's Local Plan. To accept these terms without knowing the route, where we would put these homes or whether the infrastructure such as schools and health services can support it, would be foolish. Maidstone Liberal Democrats remain committed to finding a workable solution to congestion but not on condition of unsustainable housing development.

The Southern relief road is a long-term ambition which will cost £50m - £70m pounds at todays prices, is at minimum 5 to 10 years away, and is substantially dependent on Government support which will be tied to a massive further increase in local housing. The Conservative Kent Council has been trying to find a solution for almost 30 years.

What we need to do meanwhile is deal with the recognised congestion hotspots for which money is already available through planning 106 agreements with developers and other sources. These can be progressed now, but to do so Kent County Council has to finalise the design and the local Conservative Councillors need finally to show their support for this immediate and local action and not continue to put obstacles in the way of progress.