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Cycle lane plans for Kent should not face legal dispute like Streetspace scheme in London


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Council chiefs have played down concerns that new cycle routes planned for Kent could get stalled while a legal wrangle is resolved.

Kent County Council has just completed a consultation on five new cycle routes which are now being considered under a government initiative aimed at keeping people active during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

A cycle lane in Milton Road, Gravesend. Photo: Jason Arthur
A cycle lane in Milton Road, Gravesend. Photo: Jason Arthur

It has insisted that it won’t need to put the brakes on them despite a legal ruling that found the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan had acted unlawfully in implementing cycle routes in the capital, funded through the government.

The London scheme, called Streetspace, saw roads closed and others narrowed to create new cycle lanes in the height of last year’s lockdown.

The measures were found to be “seriously flawed” by a High Court judge, who called for an end to the initiative.

Kent County Council faced a similar storm of protests after it installed a number of what were dubbed ‘pop up’ cycle lanes, using the same government funds designed to keep people active during Covid-19. Most were scrapped.

The council had received £1.6m from the government for these temporary schemes to improve opportunities for cycling and walking.

MP Craig Mackinlay defended Kent County Council as there was little time to get the cycle lanes sorted
MP Craig Mackinlay defended Kent County Council as there was little time to get the cycle lanes sorted

It says the new proposals do not fall into the category of ‘pop up’ routes as they will, if agreed, become permanent.

In a statement, the council said: “A consultation into five new concept schemes to encourage more walking and cycling in Kent has just closed. Unlike the initial wave of schemes, the government awarded Kent just over £6m to create permanent schemes. Consultation feedback is currently being considered before any decisions are made.”

Thanet South MP Craig Mackinlay, who is also chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for Fair Fuel for UK Motorists and Hauliers, said the government needed to be more cautious.

“In its defence, Kent was given very little time to put these temporary schemes together and we saw a multitude of schemes that were not consulted upon at all. They were in ridiculous places; they were objected to by local businesses who saw their trade drop. I think the judgement in London has highlighted very well some of the things that are going wrong.”

The concept designs for those choosing to walk or cycle for their day-to-day journeys out to public consultation are:

  • Canterbury: Littlebourne Road to the City Centre
  • Folkestone: Central Railway Station to Cheriton
  • Thanet: Birchington to Margate Sands
  • Folkestone: Hythe to Dymchurch
  • Gravesham: Gravesend to Northfleet

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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