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Murston Oak Road bus lane safety gates ripped down


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Vandals have ripped down two wooden safety gates 11 days after they were installed.

The barriers, which cost £5,000, were put up on Friday October 15 to close a notorious rat-run after safety fears.

The damaged gate at the Oak Road bus lane at Murston
The damaged gate at the Oak Road bus lane at Murston
Bus gate dumped in a hedge near Oak Road, Murston
Bus gate dumped in a hedge near Oak Road, Murston

But last night (Wednesday) they were removed after vandals had sprayed signs with black paint. There had been reports that special keys needed to unlock the gates had been offered on social media.

Cllr James Hall (Swale Independents, Murston) who campaigned to get the gates fitted, said: "This is terrible. I had received so many emails from residents thanking me for this and then this happens.

"The mentality of these individuals escapes me. It shows they have no regard for the safety of the elderly or school children.

"It's just dreadful what people will do. It is very sad. I have been swamped by residents really upset by this criminal act. It could even deprive the community of the bus service returning. It has upset everyone."

The narrow short cut linking Oak Road, Murston, to the Great Easthall estate at Sittingbourne was originally designed as a bus lane. Other traffic was banned.

Cllr James Hall and residents when the gates were installed
Cllr James Hall and residents when the gates were installed

But Arriva drivers refused to use it in 2019 after two were assaulted by rogue motorists going in the opposite direction despite traffic lights controlling the road.

Without barriers, the bus lane had been used as a rat-run linking Swale Way to the A2 because the town's long-promised northern relief road has still not been finished. Many residents reported near misses with speeding cars.

The cost of the barriers was jointly met by Swale council and developers. It is understood the gates will be replaced tomorrow (Friday).

The attack did not surprise some residents, according to social media.

One wrote: "Well, no one saw that coming. What a waste of money." Another said: "Don’t want to say I told ya so."

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

One asked: "Have both gates been removed so we can pass back through? Asking for a friend."

A man replied: "Yes, both sides been done, my friend. Went through there this morning and was greeted by three signs the other side (easily removable)."

Some suggested installing electric rising bollards instead but that had already been ruled out on cost grounds.

Cllr Hall said the criminal damage had been reported to police and that the attack had been captured by CCTV. The gates were dumped in a hedge and in a resident's garden.

A police spokesman said: "We received a report that wooden gates placed in Oak Road, Murston, had been damaged and removed at around 9.40pm on Wednesday.

"Officers attended and conducted a search of the area but no suspects were located."

Anyone with information should call 01795 419119 quoting 46/217415/21. Information can also be left anonymously with Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

Read more: All the latest news from Sittingbourne

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