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Highways England - Ignoring the people of Kent

October 31, 2018 12:02 AM
By Cllr. Ian Chittenden

Highways England officials have been accused of ignoring the people of Kent after refusing to face councillors to account for the traffic chaos caused by multiple roadworks on the M20 and M26.

Highways England chiefs were invited to come to the Maidstone Joint Transportation Board (JTB) to explain to councillors how they are managing the various works on the M20 and how they will operate the controversial Operation Brock post Brexit.

Yet instead of turning up and answering councillors' questions, the invitation was turned down.

There are fears that gridlock could become the new normal, especially around Maidstone, as three major road projects happen simultaneously, namely preparations to convert the M20 into a lorry park between junctions 9 and 8 (Operation Brock), 'Smart Motorway' works between junctions 3 to 5 on the M20 and now preparations to turn the M26 into another Brexit-related lorry park.

Narrow lanes and partial closures have seen several serious delays and severe congestion lasting several hours in recent weeks, following crashes and breakdowns on the M20.Ian Chittenden

The chaos could be further compounded by the closure of the M26 as part of the Brexit preparations.

At the recent full council meeting, the Liberal Democrats grilled the Conservative Administration over what is being done to mitigate the traffic misery for the people of Kent, especially in the case of a hard Brexit.

Cllr Ian Chittenden, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson at County Hall, said:

"While the people of Kent sit in traffic jams, Highways England cannot even be bothered to turn up and account for themselves. Already these delays are hurting businesses throughout the county and causing frustration and misery for drivers in Maidstone and beyond.

"Highways England and the Department for Transport must give proper consideration to the people of Kent who are already bearing the brunt of Brexit chaos. If we leave without a deal, as is looking more likely by the day, things could get even worse. We want reassurance that a proper plan is in place to protect Kent from the worst effects of Brexit."