The end is in sight for “temporary” blue hoardings put in place 14 years ago, as work finally begins on fixing the crumbling wall behind them.
Medway Council put up the bright wooden panelling to protect the footpath on Pier Road, Gillingham, since the retaining wall was deemed a “serious health and safety risk” in 2009.
Since then, the council has spent more than £50,000 renting the hoardings, dubbed an “eyesore” by residents and which have been damaged by weathering, graffiti with overgrown vegetation.
They can be seen from the windows of the Premier Inn opposite which, when it opened in 2015, was forecast to contribute more than £5 million to Medway's economy.
In the 14 years since they were put up, there have been a number of plans to make the wall safe and remove the fencing, but none came to fruition.
As the wall is backed onto by a row of private lock-up garages on Leslie Road, there has been trouble reaching an agreement with the company which owns the garages.
Work finally began on Monday, July 3, to replace two sections of the wall, beginning with the removal of vegetation and demolition of several garages.
The project is expected to last 23 weeks, finishing around Christmas.
The first section of the wall being worked on is approximately 40m and the second is around 67m.
In order for the works to be completed safely, the footpath has been closed and a signed diversion route is in place for pedestrians.
As the owner of the land itself and as the highway authority responsible for any wall supporting a public highway, Medway Council was tasked with overseeing the repairs. However, trouble getting access to the site has delayed plans.
It was originally hoped the works would progress in the first quarter of this year.
The application was filed in February and approved in April.
The plans will see the retaining wall and five of the 15 garages behind it demolished and rebuilt, so the hoardings can finally be removed.
A document submitted by the council said the wall had moved and was unsafe.
Former councillor Andy Stamp (Lab) said: "It's a road safety issue for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians; if drivers are turning out the bottom of Camden Road onto the dual carriageway the hoardings restrict visibility for people turning out, and if you're a cyclist you have the same issue.
"Also for pedestrians, because the hoardings are there, the footpath along that stretch of Pier Road is really narrow."
The council had previously been contacted in 2016 after a cyclist was knocked down by a car turning out of the adjacent street.
In November, then Cllr Stamp posed a question to Medway Council over how much money it had spent on the fencing.
Cllr Gary Hackwell (Con), then portfolio holder for business management, revealed the council had spent £75 per week renting them.
Since then, they would have cost another £2,000 of taxpayer money.
The Tory, who spoke on behalf of then-portfolio holder for front line services, Cllr Phil Filmer, said the safety benefits “far outweigh” the cost of renting.