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Collapsed footpath re-opening in Aylesford delayed


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A collapsed footpath in Aylesford is going to stay shut for longer after issues with funding.

The Medway Towpath, which opened in spring 2017, runs from Aylesford to Teston and was regularly used by cyclists, walkers and joggers.

Sign showing footpath closure at the entrance of Bailey Bridge West car park, Aylesford
Sign showing footpath closure at the entrance of Bailey Bridge West car park, Aylesford

However, a section of the footpath had to be closed in spring 2020 after subsidence near the industrial estate off Forstal Road.

It was initially set to be completed in spring/summer 2021, but it has now been delayed until September 4.

Repair work is estimated to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

David Munn, West Kent Area Manager for the Public Rights of Way and Access Service (PROW) said: "We are still waiting on the outcome of our bid for funding from the government’s Active Travel 3 fund and the decision was supposed to have been announced in October. However that date has been pushed back and we are still waiting for a decision.

"As soon as funding is confirmed we are ready to start the tendering and construction process."

Medway Towpath subsidence in Aylesford. Picture: Aylesford Parish Council
Medway Towpath subsidence in Aylesford. Picture: Aylesford Parish Council

The towpath is a very popular route for walking groups.

Carol Davies, Chairman of Maidstone Ramblers said: "It's a real pitty, as the council have spent a lot of money on the path and people have suffered as they can't use it.

"The closure means we have to either walk on the southside of the river, which has a railway line, or walk along Forstal Road, which is unpleasant and largely industrial. It's denying access to so many people, especially wheelchair users."

Kent County Council rejected a proposal to put £1 million towards repairing unsafe walking routes across the county, a year ago.

Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, is a regular user of the towpath and feels concerned about its current state.

She said: “It is really depressing that this much loved and well used section of the footpath has still not been repaired.

“I genuinely believe that the council official working on this is doing his absolute best, but he is being hampered by a delay in the Transport Department for an announcement over funding. It was due at the end of last year and still hasn’t happened so I will be following it up as a matter of urgency.

“The problem is that the longer it falls into disrepair the harder it is going to be to fix.”

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