Published: 11:37, 15 March 2019
| Updated: 12:39, 15 March 2019
A controversial legal battle between two councils over a key road project is to finally be settled out of court.
Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) is dropping its efforts for a judicial review of Kent County Council's (KCC) use of £200,000 which was intended for Sutton Road mitigation works to finance a feasibility exercise for the proposed Leeds/Langley Bypass.
The row between the town halls has already cost taxpayers thousands of pounds and representatives were due to return to the High Court for another hearing next week before a decision was made to withdraw.
Council leader Cllr Martin Cox said: “MBC is pleased to be able to announce that through working with KCC that an agreement has been reached and that we will continue to work collaboratively to achieve the necessary improvements to the A274 Sutton Road which is a vital route in and out of the Maidstone.”
It comes after Cllr Jonathan Purle of the Conservative group - which has long voiced its opposition to the legal proceedings - last month intervened at a meeting, which resulted in the council proposing to ditch a small committee which met in private to rubber-stamp the legal action in May.
Opposition leader Cllr John Perry said: “Maidstone needs a major upgrade in its road network.
"But, instead of co-operation and co-ordination between their councils, local taxpayers were having to fund one council taking legal action against the other.
"Hopefully this settlement will mean we finally see progress on what matters most to our residents, which is improving the roads and transport system around Maidstone.”
Cllr Purle added: “On Friday, a group of Maidstone Conservative councillors called for an extraordinary council meeting to put an end to these proceedings.
"This appears to have concentrated minds somewhat. Over the weekend, we heard from KCC sources that there had been something of a ‘thaw’ that Friday.
"On Tuesday afternoon, John Perry and I had a meeting with MBC officers who wanted us to withdraw our requisition.
"We said we could not do this until we believed the proceedings were at an end. And now it appears they may well be.”
A spokesman for KCC said: “We are pleased that this action has now been bought to a positive conclusion and as before we will continue to work co-operatively and positively with members and officers of MBC.”