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Mayor of Sandwich Cllr Paul Graeme accused of ‘stonewalling’ over traffic measures

By Eleanor Perkins

A quest has been abandoned that asked for firm evidence to support the town’s proposed traffic management improvements.

Residents felt stalling tactics had been used against their push for transparency.

It relates to a raft of planned traffic improvement measures to be paid for by developers’ financial contributions.

The group of residents has written to the Mayor of Sandwich Cllr Paul Graeme twice
The group of residents has written to the Mayor of Sandwich Cllr Paul Graeme twice

Former councillor Charles Miller and 20 others had written two letters to mayor Cllr Paul Graeme, asking for clear evidence about the effectiveness of the planned scheme, which they claim has not been made public.

A meeting was offered by the mayor in a second letter to the group, but while two of the 21 were in favour, the rest felt they had been met by “stonewalling”.

They have since decided to no longer proceed.

A statement issued by the group said: “On both occasions, the mayor declined to address the requests, offering a meeting in lieu.

“If the council has twice decided not to give us a response, we have no confidence that we will get one in a meeting and it is with disappointment that we have therefore decided there is no point in proceeding.”

Mr Miller resigned as a councillor over the matter in February, because he disagreed the town council should spend its section 106 fund on traffic management work without applying the evidential tests. He says these tests are necessary at every other tier of government.

Sam Smale, of Honfleur Road, agrees and said: “Sandwich has access to limited funds to improve traffic.

“The normal practice and government requirement is to produce research on the need for and value of projects funded this way but Sandwich Town Council (STC) appears to be ignoring this.

“So we have repeatedly asked to see the evidence and professional evaluations which we have been assured by our MP exist.

“But STC and the mayor have refused to make them public.

“It seems that STC does not propose to comply with normal protocols of providing evidence to justify expenditure on traffic measures.

“Its reluctance to make the evidence publicly available gives cause for concern on the true motivation behind its proposals.

“We can only hope that the results of this cosy process do not have to be undone, at considerable expense to council tax payers.”

Cllr Graeme said he and the council have been completely transparent with their work.

He said: “It’s disappointing that this decision has been made because a meeting would have been a great opportunity to explain the exciting things that are going on in Sandwich to secure its successful future.”

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