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‘We’ll keep disruption to a minimum in town’s facelift’

By Gemma Constable

Views of the entrance foyer to Swale House, Sittingbourne

The entrance foyer at Swale House, Sittingbourne

A team to monitor and minimise the impact of building work on the community during the town’s regeneration project is being called for.

The cross-party policy overview committee will make the request at tonight’s (Wednesday) Swale council cabinet meetingfeb 6.

It follows the disruption caused to motorists and businesses while changes to the road layout in Mill Way were carried out as part of the Morrisons development.

Traffic lights now replace the Sittingbourne Retail Park roundabout while lights control vehicles entering and exiting Morrisons’ car park.

The recommendation is one of several being put forward by the committee.

Other proposals include establishing risk-management procedures and regular monitoring reports to go to all council members plus the business community and town residents.

This is due to concerns about the land transfer and financial arrangements associated with the schemes.

The committee is also asking that the council establishes succession procedures to ensure continuity when current officers are no longer in post.

And they want better links between the council and the developers so both sides know exactly what is happening at each stage of the process.

Roger TrueloveWork on the advisory report began last summer. It was led by Cllr Roger Truelove (Lab), working with Cllr Andy Booth (Con) and Monique Bonney (Ind).

Their recommendations were agreed by the full committee on January 16.

Committee chairman Cllr Mike Haywood said: “Our report sets out the steps the council needs to take if it is to win back public confidence in the project, as well as to deliver the regeneration of the town centre and to meet the aspirations of a growing local population.”

Cllr Truelove said: “This is not a report on the mistakes of the past. We have produced non-partisan recommendations which we believe are important at this crucial early stage in the Sittingbourne town centre project.

“There are areas which we believe require a more clear organisational structure for a council which is embarking on an ambitious development programme in Sittingbourne.”

The £250m regeneration aims to revamp the town centre, providing extra leisure facilities, shops and housing.

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