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MP Tracey Crouch left 'pleasantly surprised' as Maidstone and Aylesford avoid gridlock at McDonald's reopening

As several McDonald's restaurants in Kent open for a second day, one MP worried about traffic says she is happy to have been proved wrong as major tailbacks have been avoided in two areas.

After closing their doors in March, the restaurants on Hart Street in Maidstone, and Hermitage Lane in Aylesford, are now open for drive-thru orders only.

Traffic marshals have been introduced in Aylesford
Traffic marshals have been introduced in Aylesford

MP Tracey Crouch urged the chain to push back the opening of the Aylesford site, after seeing the gridlock caused in Medway last month.

The Chatham and Aylesford MP was worried queues could block a main route to Maidstone Hospital.

In response to concerns, traffic marshalls and a new queuing system have been introduced.

Those wanting a burger on Hart Street and Hermitage Lane now have to drive through and 'extended loop' in the car park.

Ms Crouch said: "I'm pleasantly surprised and on this occasion I'm very happy to have been wrong.

McDonalds in Hart Street, Maidstone have traffic managment officers in place
McDonalds in Hart Street, Maidstone have traffic managment officers in place

"I'm pleased that it seemed to have opened without causing major problems on Hermitage Lane on the road up to the hospital, and long may it continue.

"I don't think these traffic management wardens have been put in place elsewhere so maybe it has helped.

"I hope it doesn't suddenly become chaos when the traffic management goes."

But, despite a seemingly smooth opening, some residents who live near the Maidstone site took to social media expressing their anger as queues grew later in the evening and litter was left behind.

Jemima Wyrill who lives nearby wrote: "As I left Hart Street at 6.15pm last night the traffic trying to get in to get to the drive-thru McDonald's was crazy. I would like to see what the rubbish is like following last night."

Littler left behind at McDonald's on Hart Street in Maidstone. Picture: Jemima Wyrill
Littler left behind at McDonald's on Hart Street in Maidstone. Picture: Jemima Wyrill

But, Michael Swan, a private security contractor drafted in to marshall the traffic at Hart Street said despite a few busy peaks, there were no problems during the opening.

The 29-year-old said: "We have had no issues whatsoever and everything has been organised.

"It's been very busy but it's been able to cope because of the traffic management system in place.

"Cars are coming in, queuing for a minute or so, and then they are on their way back out with the orders.

"We've got a loop system in the car park which allows us to fit up to 20 more vehicles inside the grounds to prevent them going out and onto the road. With that in place and the speed of the orders, no one has been tailgated or left queuing on the road."

Michael Swan has been managing traffic in Maidstone
Michael Swan has been managing traffic in Maidstone

Mr Swan said he will remain at the site for however long he is needed.

The store's Managing Director, Ali El Hajj, echoed Mr Swan's optimism. He said people have been flocking to the store to get their first taste of a Big Mac since lockdown.

He added: "I was very pleasantly surprised yesterday at how smooth it was and how the queues just kept moving.

"I think the system we put in place inside the car park with the extended loop really helped because most of the time we were able to keep up.

"In normal times, you have the peak around lunch time and dinner time but now it's constant at the same sort of level but we're managing just fine.

"We are a Big Mac nation and people can't seem to get enough."

The restaurant on Fountains Retail Park in Tunbridge Wells also opened its doors yesterday with some reporting queuing for more than an hour along Longfield Road.

Read more: All the latest news from Malling

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone


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