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Ashford Borough Council transport chiefs did not know about eight-month Newtown Road closure

Transport chiefs at Ashford Borough Council say they did not know Newtown Road would be closed for eight months until reading about it in KentOnline's sister title the Kentish Express.

Drivers are facing 32 weeks of traffic hell as contractors remove two roundabouts at the junction with Romney Marsh Road and fit traffic lights instead.

But Godinton Park councillor Bernard Heyes - chairman of ABC's joint transportation board - says he was not made aware of the works, which are due to finish in November.

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The busy road will be closed for months
The busy road will be closed for months

He said: "We knew nothing about the 32-week closure and we are trying to find out why.

"If we knew about it, I would have insisted measures were taken to mitigate the impact and shorten the duration of the closure.

"It is the responsibility of KCC Highways to liaise with ABC and that is why it is called the joint transportation board.

The Designer Outlet is expanding
The Designer Outlet is expanding

"I heard about it through the Kentish Express - and that shows there is something wrong there."

The works are part of the £90million expansion of the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet, which will see 50 new shops added to the site.

Cllr Heyes added: "The closure was out of the blue and it is very regrettable.

Cllr Bernard Heyes
Cllr Bernard Heyes

"KCC is the highways authority and the information must emanate from there.

"If we are not told, then there is a problem and it is not the fault of ABC.

"It is unbelievable and I am not impressed."

VIDEO: 32-week Newtown Road closure sparks months of traffic chaos

KCC spokesman Thom Morris says the works were advertised.

He said: "The Ashford Designer Outlet expansion received planning permission from Ashford Borough Council in September 2016.

“Their proposals included works to provide a new slip road exit lane and amendments to the Kimberley Way roundabout and changes to Newtown Road junction.

"These proposals included the removal of two roundabouts and the introduction of a traffic signal-controlled junction.

“McArthurGlen’s contractor identified that a road closure of Newtown Road was required, to overcome the construction issues of maintaining traffic flows.

“As part of the road closure process the contractor is required to undertake a consultation process, and provide evidence to KCC of this, as well as giving a three-month notice period before the closure can be implemented.

“This was sent to councillors, emergency services, public transport and many others at the end of March. This closure has also been advertised in the Kentish Express.”

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