We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Conservative Evasion on High Street Re-paving Scheme

May 3, 2010 6:52 PM
Money down the drain

Conservatives wasting £4.5m on 'tarting-up' Maidstone High Street

In September 2008, the Conservatives running MBC first said that they intended spending £1.25 million of a Government grant on a regeneration project in Maidstone High Street. Lib Dem Councillors immediately asked to see a cost / benefit analysis. It was their belief that the Council should not embark on such a scheme without a clear understanding of any economic benefit or traffic-flow improvements it would bring. Councillors were also told that the entire scheme would cost a massive £4 million. The Lib Dems asked how the remaining balance was to be found. It soon became clear that this was not a regeneration project at all and was just a re-paving and lamp post replacement scheme. Incredulous Lib Dem councillors vowed to fight this financial foolishness on the following grounds:

The total failure to produce a cost / benefit analysis;

The rising cost of the scheme - which has already gone up to £4.5 million;

Zero benefit for tackling traffic congestion and air pollution would be delivered;

The fact that no details were provided on how the big funding shortfall is to be addressed; and

No details could be provided regarding maintenance costs.

Despite repeated requests no answers were provided to any questions put by the Lib Dems. At a Council meeting in March 2010 Christopher Garland, Conservative leader of MBC, stated that an independent report had been published which said the High Street project would attract £3 million in investment year on year. The next day Fran Wilson, Leader of the Opposition at MBC requested a copy of this report but was told by council officials that it did not exist, rather that a report was being prepared.

On 2nd May Fran Wilson sent the following email to Councillor Garland:

"At the Full council meeting before last you informed everyone that an independent report had been published the previous Friday which estimated a £3 million year on year benefit, yet your election material states £4 million and I note from the latest edition of the Downs Mail (East Edition page 13) that you are now saying it will be £4-£5 million per year with the 'ripple effects' bringing in £12 million further investment. Which is it and where is the substantive evidence to support any of these statements?

I have been exceptionally patient until now accepting officer's statements that no report has been finalised, checked for accuracy or sent to Cabinet for agreement.

That patience has now run out. If members of cabinet can publicly quote these vastly differing figures and all use this independent report as their source surely the rest of us should be entitled to read it? Please will you instruct officers to email me a full copy of this independent report without further prevarication or delay. "