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Town's ring road spending cuts could be reversed

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KCC recently announced that costs had risen by around £3million.
KCC recently announced that costs had risen by around £3million.
Cllr Keith Ferrin
Cllr Keith Ferrin

COUNTY transport chiefs say a decision to cut spending on the Ashford ring road because of spiralling costs could be reversed.

Kent County Council was forced to scale back key aspects of the ring road development after admitting the original estimated £11million costs of the scheme had soared by £3million.

It put on hold proposals for a series of so-called "shared space" developments around West Street and Forge Lane in a bid to bridge the £2.95million shortfall.

Now it says those parts of the scheme could be re-instated if it can agree with Ashford’s Future to release money from the £22million pot of Government cash allocated last week to the town for regeneration.

Cllr Keith Ferrin (Con), KCC's cabinet member for highways, was pressed about the rising costs of the ring road project at a full council meeting.

Ashford county councillor George Koowaree (Lib Dem) asked how much the work had cost and whether the scheme was within budget.

Cllr Ferrin acknowledged the estimated costs had risen to about £14million but said discussions would now begin about whether elements of the work could now be re-instated.

"The development of the public realm added very significantly to the original estimate. We have said that we will review the scheme with Ashford’s Future once we know the growth area funding allocation, with a view to putting back in the extra £3million."

The possibility of a U-turn is likely to be welcomed after KCC faced criticism about the cost-cutting.

A report released to the Kentish Express under the Freedom of Information Act acknowledged that scaling down the shared space developments could deter potential investors by making the town less attractive.

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