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New gates block off Murston rat run to Great East Hall near Sittingbourne


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Two security gates have been installed at a notorious rat run to stop drivers taking a short-cut and to make it safer for buses to return.

Three years ago bus company Arriva stopped sending vehicles along the single-width track, which links Oak Road at Murston to the Great East Hall estate near Sittingbourne, after two drivers were assaulted in road-rage attacks.

Cllr James Hall and residents at the entrance to the bus lane at Murston
Cllr James Hall and residents at the entrance to the bus lane at Murston

Cllr James Hall

It is supposed to be off-limits for motorists but rogue drivers have continued to ignore No Entry signs.

Fed-up residents once spotted 17 vehicles using the route within 90 minutes.

Now Swale council and developers Country Estates have agreed to split the cost of installing wooden gates at each end of the link road. They can only be opened by a special key given to emergency services and bus operators.

Cllr James Hall (Swale Independents Alliance, Murston) said: "I am delighted to have managed to put these gates in place.

"It has taken almost two years of sheer persistence, with meetings with Kent County Council, Swale council and the landowner, to raise the funds to achieve this."

One of the two new gates being fitted at either end of the bus lane at Murston
One of the two new gates being fitted at either end of the bus lane at Murston
The single-width bus lane at Murston, Sittingbourne, linking Oak Road with the Great East Hall housing estate
The single-width bus lane at Murston, Sittingbourne, linking Oak Road with the Great East Hall housing estate

He said he hoped the bus service would eventually return and predicted the "horrendous traffic" using the link would stop.

"This will make a massive difference, especially to the damage done to the roads and the pollution levels through the estate and village," he said.

He added: "I have always been concerned about a fatality happening here.

"The safety barriers at each end will hopefully prevent this."

Buses had been controlled by traffic lights operated by transmitters in the vehicles so only one vehicle could enter the two-way lane at a time.

Resident Olivia Smith where new gate is being fitted to the Murston bus lane
Resident Olivia Smith where new gate is being fitted to the Murston bus lane
Entrance to the Murston bus lane from Oak Road
Entrance to the Murston bus lane from Oak Road

But cars jumped the lights and ended up face-to-face with vehicles travelling in the opposite direction.

Resident Olivia Smith said: "I've had a ring-side seat. Cars speed up and down the road while kids cross. One little girl was hit by a car and a boy was knocked off his scooter.

"I am sure one day there would have been a death if these gates hadn't been fitted."

Fellow resident Gordon Field added: "This is good news. There have been so many near misses. Drivers use it as a rat-run and a short-cut to Swale Way. Yet if we say anything to them all we get is abuse."

Cllr Hall had originally wanted retractable bollards but the £10,000 cost was too much.

Read more: All the latest news from Sittingbourne

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