Published: 16:21, 11 January 2022
| Updated: 18:40, 11 January 2022
Concerns have been raised over "inconvenient" sinkholes appearing in Kent roads.
Private talks have been held between South East Water, Kent County Council (KCC) and Maidstone MP Helen Grant over the growing problem of collapses.
They are jointly seeking to find a long-term solution, after troubling incidents occurred in the County Town, in Thanet and in Gravesend in the past few months.
The A26 Tonbridge Road in Maidstone collapsed three months ago, leaving some homes without tap water.
The hole resulted in the road being closed between Queens Road and Cherry Orchard Way, which meant delays for motorists, disruption of bus services and loss of earning for local businesses.
The hole was located only 500m from where another void appeared causing similar prolonged disruption in 2018, and there have been other sinkholes appear not far away at Copper Beech Close, and off Hermitage Lane in Barming.
Ms Grant told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "I remain far from satisfied with the sinkhole situation in west Maidstone at present."
"It is unacceptable for people to be living in fear of geological collapses, which continue to occur far too regularly."
The public representatives talked about what caused the sinkholes, a possibility of predictive surveys being undertaken and procedures in place to deal with sinkholes when they occur.
One question was raised on whether emerging sinkholes could be detected before they became real problems.
Some collapses have been caused by “leaking water infrastructure” over a long period of time. Some have taken weeks to investigate and repair.
Ramsgate's Princes Road had to shut two months ago after the ground gave way, while just last month, a hole opened up in Kings Avenue, Broadstairs.
Meanwhile, Gravesend residents raised concerns about a collapse in Windmill Street after a reported water leak between October and November 2021.
KCC says it is working closely with utility companies such as South East Water to resolve any outbreaks.
Conservative cabinet members at a public meeting in County Hall, Maidstone, last week were told "quick action" was taken to deal with sinkholes.
Cllr David Brazier (Con), who is KCC's cabinet member for transport, said: "When these appear on the highway they can cause road closures and inconvenience to users.
"Sometimes they are the result of geological features that are known about."
Cllr Brazier said: "When they cause a collapse of the surface in the highway, it is usually due to leaking water infrastructure over a long period of time."
The cabinet was told that "necessary technology" existed to prevent sinkholes, but the cost of using it on all Kent roads was "enormous" and "unaffordable".
Ms Grant added: "I do believe that there is a good working relationship between KCC and South East Water in responding to newly emerging sinkholes as efficiently as possible.
"But, I remain deeply concerned about ongoing housing construction in areas prone to collapses."