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Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson calls for councillors to quit in government cash row

An MP has demanded councillors resign after they refused to accept £38 million of Government cash.

Sittingbourne and Sheppey Conservative MP Gordon Henderson has called for the administration of Swale council to quit.

Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson
Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson

In a furious attack tonight (Wednesday) he stormed: "I am absolutely appalled at the way the current administration on Swale council is allowing its obsession with environmental issues to blind it to the real needs of our local community.

"Although we all accept that climate change must be tackled, doing so at the expense of the livelihoods of local people will be counter productive in the long run.

"Reducing carbon emission will not be achieved unless we take the local community with us. Refusing to support this money to upgrade the A249 will alienate those who use it, not get them onside."

His outburst follows a surprise announcement this afternoon by the coalition council's deputy leader Cllr Mike Baldock to say it was unable to support a bid for a slice of the Government's Housing Infrastructure Fund.

The money is earmarked for upgrading two roundabouts on the A249 which links the Isle of Sheppey and Sittingbourne with the M2 and Maidstone.

Cllr Mike Baldock, deputy leader of Swale council
Cllr Mike Baldock, deputy leader of Swale council

But it comes with a hefty price tag - another 8,000 new homes.

Mr Henderson said: "Effectively opposing these improvements to the A249 will also be counter-productive in another way because allowing the current congestion to continue simply ensures that the existing queues of traffic will pump ever more harmful emissions into our atmosphere. How is that helping local people?"

"It is quite clear from the statement put out by Cllr Baldock, that he does not understand the reasons why the bid for the £38 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund was made in the first place.

"It was not intended to open the way for more housing, as he claims, but to service the developments that have already been built, or are in the pipeline, and for which planning permission has been granted, such as those at Queenborough, Halfway, Minster-on-Sea and Bapchild.

"There is no doubt that those housing developments will still go ahead.

The council's offices at Swale House, Sittingbourne
The council's offices at Swale House, Sittingbourne

"However, without the necessary improvements at Grovehurst and Key Street the increase in traffic will simply make worse the current congestion.

"Those improvements to the two roundabouts are also needed because of the recent growth in businesses in Kemsley, such as the Morrison’s regional distribution centre; at Neats Court on Sheppey, such as the Aldi warehouse; and on the Eurolink in Sittingbourne.

"Sadly, the current administration at Swale council appears to have turned its back on our local community with a succession of decisions that defy all logic.

"We should have known what to expect when at its first meeting it supported a motion by Cllr Monique Bonney, which effectively scrapped the council’s support for completion of the Northern Relief Road; construction of the Southern Relief Road and improvements to the A249 and M2."

The council has recently withdrawn from talks to create a lorry park at Faversham and refused to contribute £800,000 towards improvements at the M2 junction 5 at Stockbury Roundabout.

Mr Henderson added: "Frankly, this latest decision is the last straw. It's time for the so-called Rainbow Coalition that currently runs Swale council to step aside and allow a more competent administration to take over the reins."

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