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Fastrack transport service edges closer

A NEW high frequency local public transport service between Dartford and Gravesend could soon be under way.

Nick Raynsford, minister for local government, has visited North Kent to make the Fastrack service a reality.

Fastrack involves significant investment in technology, including information-rich bus stops, CCTV security systems, ticketing machines and satellite monitoring of the buses.

Mr Raynsford said: "I am very pleased that Kent has taken to heart one of the key aims of the Local Government White Paper in focusing on the needs of the community to improve public services. The White Paper sets out a new vision for local government.

"It will provide councils with the tools they need to provide strong local leadership and deliver quality public services."

In June, the Department for Transport announced additional funding of £6.5 million for Fastrack taking total funding to £14.5 million.

The Fastrack public transport scheme was fully accepted by Ministers in March 2001 and funding agreed up to a maximum of £8m.

However, as part of Kent County Council's July 2001 local transport Annual Progress Report, the authority sought an increase in funding over and above the Government's original total contribution. After further consideration, ministers have announced an increase of £6.5 million.

The total Government commitment is therefore £14.5 million.

In addition to the extra funding ministers have decided not to intervene in the planning application in relation to Fastrack.

This will enable Kent County Council to grant planning permission as soon as it sees fit and ensures that the proposal gets planning permission with the minimum of delay.

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