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Medway Tunnel repairs might not go ahead

Vital works to repair the Medway Tunnel may not be carried out due to a lack of funding.

Maintenance to the tunnel under the River Medway, linking Chatham with Strood and used by more than 50,000 drivers a day, will cost £672,104 up until the end of the financial year in a few months’ time.

KMTV has reported on the situation

But council papers reveal there is “no budget or funding” for the work to take place.

Medway Council says it is in discussion with the Department for Transport (DfT) about how to progress and is negotiating to secure grant funding.

The Towns’ entire highways programme may need to be reviewed if the DfT refuses to provide cash for the tunnel, the council has warned.

The authority has not ruled out transferring money from the main highways budget.

Cllr Tristan Osborne (Lab) described the situation regarding the tunnel repairs as “a sorry state”.

Traffic heading into the Medway Tunnel
Traffic heading into the Medway Tunnel

“This Tory-led purchase is now a huge cost to council road budgets and potentially a massive capital liability adding up to hundreds of thousands,” he said. “It is a noose around council finances.

“I’ve requested a detailed briefing on how Medway Council has ended up in this position.”

Council leader Cllr Alan Jarrett (Con) said he was “astonished” by the “irrational and ill-informed” comments.

“Medway Labour’s 2019 manifesto revealed the appalling truth – a Labour-run council would cease to fund repairs to the tunnel,” he said.

“We will continue to ensure the cost of ongoing operation is met. To not do so would be to ultimately consign an essential part of Medway’s infrastructure to total disrepair and closure.”

Princess Anne at the opening of the Medway Tunnel.1996
Negative Reference: 5A.1033.W.96(22880422)
Princess Anne at the opening of the Medway Tunnel.1996 Negative Reference: 5A.1033.W.96(22880422)

The tunnel was opened by Princess Anne in 1996. It is one of two immersed tube tunnels in the UK and one of two tunnels which receives no government funding.

There are closures tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday, 8pm-5.45am, for repairs.

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