Published: 15:52, 10 February 2020
| Updated: 16:23, 10 February 2020
Kent County Council has hit out at a borough council for opposing £38 million of government cash for road improvements but says it is going ahead with the scheme anyway.
"It would be wholly irresponsible of the county council, as local highway authority, to reject a significant award of grant funding by central government that will address the existing levels of congestion and highway safety issues while providing the opportunity to tackle social and community infrastructure deficits which Swale council has itself identified.
"We were successful in our bid because it was recognised that better infrastructure is needed. It is essential housing growth is well planned with infrastructure funded and built in advance of the building of any new homes."
He added: "I understand the frustration councillors must feel with housing targets but rejecting major investment in critical infrastructure will not stop those houses being built on sites already allocated for development in Swale council’s own Local Plan.”
The Government is offering the money as part of a Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) bid to improve the Key Street and Grovehurst roundabouts on the A249 at Sittingbourne.
KCC cabinet member for highways and transport Cllr Michael Payne said: “Improvements to these junctions are highlighted as transport priorities for Swale in Kent County Council’s adopted Local Transport Plan 4: Delivering Growth without Gridlock.
“We worked closely with Swale council to develop our bid to support its adopted Local Plan and deliver better road infrastructure. So Swale's announcement will be deeply disappointing for its residents.
“Left unaddressed, levels of congestion experienced daily by drivers would simply get worse. That is not a position KCC can or will support."
Swale council has also decided to pull its funding for the designing of planned improvements at junction 5 of the M2 at Stockbury.
Cllr Payne said: "The Stockbury roundabout has one of the worse accident records of any junction of its kind in the country. Delays to residents and business are unacceptable.
“KCC will continue to work with Highways England and the Government to deliver much needed improvements at junction 5 as quickly as possible.”
KCC says the £38.1 million HIF money will allow developer Section 106 contributions to be ‘recycled’ to tackleshortfalls in health and education.
KCC's comments come days after Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson called for the Swale council administration to resign over the funding row.
More by this authorJohn Nurden