Transport links - the bigger picture

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19 Sep 2012
THERE were two transport-related letters in last week's SNE to which I would like to respond.
In the first, I was accused by Cllr Ghlin Whelan of not lobbying for investments in our local roads infrastructure.

I have raised with transport ministers on a number of occasions the need for additional resources for Sittingbourne's roads.

Indeed, last year I took the then roads minister, Mike Penning, on a tour of Sittingbourne during which I highlighted the areas in which action is necessary, including the need to complete the Northern Relief Road(NRR).

However, completion of the NRR cannot be taken in isolation, it is part of a bigger jigsaw, which is why I share the view of Swale council that completing it would be irresponsible, without first solving some of the other interlinked transport problems.

Otherwise, the inevitable increase of traffic from the Eurolink would have a hugely damaging impact on communities, such as Bapchild, that are located south of the A2.

A bigger priority is to solve the congestion problem at the Stockbury roundabout and to get a commitment from the government that it will fund a Southern Relief Road (SRR) to take traffic using the NRR when it is eventually completed.

After the recent Cabinet reshuffle we now have a new team in the Department of Transport and I have already contacted ministers to seek a meeting so that I can stress to them the importance to Sittingbourne's economy of improving our local roads.

The second letter, from Ashley Wise, related to the proposed 3% above inflation rise in rail fares. Although I was the only Kent MP to speak in the recent debate, I think I spoke for all my colleagues when I protested about the rise and helped secure an agreement from the new Secretary of State to meet with Kent MPs to discuss our concerns.

At that meeting I will be pointing out that commuters here have been paying 3% above inflation for a number of years, when the rest of the country was paying only 1%.

For that reason I will be asking for special treatment for local rail users. I want to see rail fares restricted to a rise in line with inflation, which is one of the reasons that I abstained
when we voted on the Labour motion to cap rises at 1% above inflation.
Gordon Henderson MP