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Home Maidstone News Article
The town’s Liberal Democrat’s decided to put that question to the test after Council Leader Chris Garland (Con) suggested voters should embrace Maidstone’s chronic traffic congestion as proof of the town’s prosperity.
Five contestants set off together from Maidstone Hospital in Hermitage Lane with the aim of being the first to reach the Wheatsheaf junction on the Loose Road.
The Lib Dem Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Maidstone and the Weald, Jasper Gerard, went by bike.
South Ward Cllr Derek Mortimer went by car and Lib Dem office manager Sam Roach ran the distance.
Cllrs Brian Mortimer and David Pickett went by bus.
In what, he hopes will be a good omen for his election race with Maidstone and the Weald MP Helen Grant, Mr Gerard came home first.
Both he and Mr Roach were able to shorten their journey by using a route that crossed Tovil footbridge.
Mr Gerard’s 3.3-mile journey by bike took 32 minutes.
Cllr Derek Mortimer was second: his car journey took 37 minutes.
A breathless Mr Roach. 23, came in third after 45 minutes.
Cllrs Brian Mortimer and David Pickett found their 3.9-mile bus journey took them an hour and five minutes.
The competitors were sent on their way with a starting gun by County Councillor Rob Bird, and Mr Gerard was waved over the finishing line with a chequered flag before being presented – Formula 1 style – with a bottle of Champagne.
“I am not exactly Bradley Wiggins,” he said, “so if I can beat the car and the bus, anyone could.”
There was a serious side to the contest. Cllr Mortimer averaged only 6.3mph on his car journey.
Mr Gerard said: “Traffic was actually a lot lighter than usual, but the race still clearly showed the misery of commuting for people in the county town.
“Rush-hour traffic in Maidstone is now often slower than in London, taking over an hour to get from one side of town to the other.”
Mr Gerard said: “Incredibly, the Conservative leader of Maidstone Borough Council claims that this gridlock is a sign of success. By every recognised international measure, congestion is considered a sign of failure.
“Successful towns have adequate roads and efficient public transport. We have neither. And that will put off businesses, shoppers and skilled workers from coming to the town.”
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