Swale councillors call for Northern Relief Road to be finished

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14 Sep 2014
Finish the Northern Relief Road – that’s the message to Kent County Council.

A motion has been passed by members of the Swale Joint Transportation Board (SJTB) urging the authority to work with the group to create an “up and ready plan” to extend the route to the A2.

At present it runs from the Grovehurst roundabout off the A249 to the Great Easthall estate.

Swale council had hoped to secure £23.1 million towards the £28.6 million cost of finishing the road by linking it with London Road at Bapchild.

The South East Local Enterprise Partnership submitted a bid for government funding on its behalf, but it was announced in July the application had been unsuccessful.

Speaking at Tuesday’s SJTB meeting, Cllr Roger Truelove (Lab) said the scheme should be Swale council’s first priority as it is vital to the area’s economic development.

At the same time he added councillors had a “moral duty” to Great Easthall residents who were promised the route when they bought their homes.

He feels both councils are “seriously letting down” the occupants.

He said: “There has been no work done on that road. KCC has made it pretty clear that it doesn’t take it seriously, in which case it’s pretty unsurprising that it was not successful in a bid for public money.”

However, Swale council leader Cllr Andrew Bowles (Con) said chief executive Abdool Kara is in talks with KCC’s cabinet member for transport, Cllr David Brazier (Con), to push for the completion.

But he disagreed it should be top of the list of transport schemes for the borough.

He said: “The first priority is and should be Junction 5 [of the M2].

“It’s vital we continue to get the Northern Relief Road (NRR) pushed up the agenda but we need to signpost the Southern Relief Road (SRR) at the same time.”

The planned SRR would initially link the A2 with Kent Science Park before later joining with the M2 at a new junction 5a between Ruins Barn Road, Tunstall, and Broadoak Farm.

County councillor Mike Baldock (UKIP) said the council should stop misleading the public about the likelihood of the Northern Relief Road being built especially as as up to 600 homes, shops and a country park, are earmarked for Stones Farm, Bapchild.

He added that around £333,000 has already been spent on traffic modelling which was a waste since Kent Highways had indicated the project was not likely to go ahead.

“How much are we looking to spend on this road before it becomes a reality?” he asked. Labour’s transport spokesman, Cllr Ghlin Whelan, called it a “road going nowhere”.

A Kent County Council spokesman understood the importance of the road, saying: “While the Bapchild link is not a prerequisite for development, it would provide other significant benefits.

“This includes congestion relief on the A2 to the east of the town centre, opening up opportunities for regeneration and redesign of the town centre itself, providing an alternative route in case of incidents and reducing traffic flows rat running on Lomas Road near the Tonge Mill Conservation Area.”

Lewis Dyson
Sittingbourne Messenger