Protect Kent have expressed concern that Kent County Council are doggedly pursuing “Growth without gridlock”, their transport strategy for Kent for the next 20 years, despite the flaws it contains and the widespread opposition to some of the schemes from the people of Kent.
Earlier today, at KCC’s “Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee” meeting for environment, highways and waste, an update on Growth without gridlock was delivered, covering the major proposals for a third Thames Crossing, a solution to Operation Stack, dualling of the A21 between Tonbridge and Pembury, and rail improvements for East Kent. It also covered the thorny issue of funding for these schemes, seeking to avoid direct contribution from the public purse.
Almost no alternatives remain on the table. There will be a Third Thames Crossing, despite the fact that removing the existing tolls at Dartford would solve the congestion problems at the crossing “at a stroke”. An enormous lorry park will be built at Aldington, near Sellindge, despite other options including parking at the Port of Dover. And the Thanet Parkway Rail Station is still being promoted as essential to the development of Manston airport, even though Flybe (the only scheduled flight operator at Manston) have announced their intention to withdraw their operations in March.
Possibly the only scheme that is sensible and receives widespread support is the improvement and dualling to the A21 between Tonbridge and Hastings. This is long overdue, and would do much to improve safety and air quality in the area, as well as remove congestion and hence relieve some of the stress for motorists.
Andrew Ogden, Campaigns Manager at Protect Kent said: “KCC appear to be pursuing all of the schemes within their transport strategy with blatant single-mindedness, as though sheer determination will make them acceptable in the eyes of the public. There certainly does not appear to be room for open debate on all possible options to solve our transport problems. In fact, it appears that KCC have decided there is but one solution – theirs, which must be the right one – and nothing else will be entertained”.
Andrew continued: “However, as everything is still at the planning stage, it is not yet too late for KCC to open-up a consultation on their proposals. This will ensure we arrive at the best possible transport solutions for Kent, its people and communities. We encourage KCC to take up the challenge of a public debate.”