Published: 12:54, 11 July 2019
| Updated: 13:43, 11 July 2019
Buses, taxis and lorries could be charged anywhere between £8 and £50 a day under new congestion fee plans.
It is one of three drastic measures being considered in Maidstone to tackle pollution levels in Upper Stone Street, considered one of the highest in the country outside of London.
Other options are to restrict cars from stopping, banning lorries entirely and charging taxis, lorries and buses to use the congested road.
Watch: Harry Peet from KMTV reports from Maidstone
Upper Stone Street generates the fifth highest level of fumes per cubic metre of air outside of London – almost double the European Union’s limit for nitrogen dioxide.
To combat the growing issue, Maidstone Borough Council is considering a number of a measures to limit congestion on the road, which is regularly gridlocked during peak times.
No decisions have yet been made, but a range of potential options to improve air quality in the town centre have now been reduced to three following a strategic planning and infrastructure committee meeting on Tuesday.
Based on a model proposed in Birmingham, it could see buses, coaches and lorries charged £50 for using the road from 2022 and £8 for taxis from 2025, as they are deemed to be less harmful than other vehicles in terms of pollution.
However, Neil Cox from the Maidstone Taxi Proprietors Association doesn’t feel a charge would have a positive impact.
“It will simply displace taxis to Hastings Road so the pollution might not be in Upper Stone Street but it will be somewhere else instead because we’ll have to find a way around it,” he said.
“Who is going to pay to go up the road when they can just go around it?
“They should stop deliveries and any sort of parking and enforce the rules they have put in place.”
The no-stopping ‘red route’ is proposed to be in force between 7am and 7pm.
Cllr Derek Mortimer said: “I quite understand their argument, it is a bit of a hammer to crack a nut.
“A lot of taxi drivers are self-employed and they shell out a lot of money on their taxis over a long period of time and they need to get that money back and earn a living at the same time.”
and earn a living at the same time."