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Kent County Council Leader Paul Carter says council does not have £17 million to fund flood defence projects in Yalding and Tonbridge

Plans for a multi- million pound investment into flood defences for Yalding and Tonbridge have taken a hit this afternoon.

Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council, has told KentOnline it may be 10 to 15 years before it has the £17 million needed to fund an extension of the Leigh Barrier and create a flood storage area on the River Beult.

That comes one day after Nick Clegg visited Yalding to announce the Treasury was going to hand over £17 million – 50% of the money needed to pay for the schemes.

Nick Clegg with Jasper Gerard, Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate for Maidstone and the Weald, and Geraldine Brown, chairman of Yalding Parish Council
Nick Clegg with Jasper Gerard, Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate for Maidstone and the Weald, and Geraldine Brown, chairman of Yalding Parish Council

He added that the remaining 50% was being provided by the county council – an offer Cllr Carter first made in a letter to Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, in February.

Speaking this afternoon Cllr Carter said: “In order to enable these schemes to get underway as soon as possible we now have to look at ways of finding this money over the next 10 to 15 years.

“I have always maintained that the funding needs to be raised partly by means of a precept on houses and also commercial rates in the areas that are most at risk of flooding.

“We will also look at a developer contribution from new houses built in area.

Kent County Council leader Paul Carter
Kent County Council leader Paul Carter

“Extra funds could also be available through our application for a Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Fund.

“Securing the government’s contribution is a major step forward and we will do everything we can to make sure that these schemes progress as quickly as possible.”

Yesterday Yalding residents were told by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Environment Agency (EA) that the two flood schemes should be in operation by 2020.

That date was two years earlier than what the EA pledged a week ago in a public meeting at St Peter and St Paul Church, in Yalding High Street.

The Leigh Barrier
The Leigh Barrier

Geraldine Brown, chairman of Yalding Parish Council, has been surprised by this announcement. 

She said: "It is very disappointing. We need the money and we have got to get it."

Helen Grant, MP for Maidstone and the Weald, said: “Kent County Council gave a clear commitment to find 50% of the implementation costs for both proposed flood defence schemes; the raising of the Leigh Barrier and the creation of a Lower Beult Storage Area.

"I remain confident that they will honour this commitment.”

Cllr Carter added that the government's funding for the projects would not have happened without the work of the county council and its partners.

He said: “The government’s announcement yesterday is a direct result of our commitment to work with partners to find 50 percent of the funding.

“Without this commitment the government’s input of £17 million would not have been forthcoming."

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