Published: 06:00, 10 August 2019
A village is to get a £1.8m boost to renew its ageing gas mains.
Southern Gas Network (SGN) will replace 4.5km of pipes in Newington, from Key Street to Hartlip, following a history of leaks along the A2.
The decision was made by chief executive John Morea after villagers and motorists suffered more than a week of having the main road linking Sittingbourne to Medway shut for emergency repairs.
It will mean resurfacing work planned for this week is postponed until next year.
Cllr Mike Whiting, in charge of roads at Kent County Council, has called an emergency meeting of SGN, police, Kent Highways and parish councillors later this month to thrash out a solution.
He said: "We need to draw on the experience from the past few weeks.
"You can’t predict emergency work. It just has to happen. But there has been an astonishing number of repairs in Newington over the past 18 months.
"We need a long-term solution. It is a medieval high street with old Victorian metal pipes under a major road being used by 21st century 40-tonne HGVs.
"We can’t get rid of the lorries so it is time to make sure the utilities are all fit for purpose.
"Any feedback we get from previous road closures will help everyone get it right next time."
After SGN announced its decision to renew all the pipes, Cllr Whiting stepped in to halt the resurfacing work.
He said: "It would have been foolish to have had the road resurfaced then dug up a few months later."
While it is now postponed, there has been a lot of preparatory work completed over the last two months with drains repaired and potholes patched up.
A date for the emergency meeting has yet to be confirmed but it will be after August 15 when the village hall is open after major refurbishment.
The new plastic pipe has a minimum lifespan of 80 years.