News | A274 Road widening ‘not solution’

A PLAN to tackle growing congestion on the A274 Sutton Road in Maidstone has already met with opposition.

Work to widen the road at its junctions with Willington Street andWallisAvenue will start in Feb- ruary. But many say the £3m cost and

seven months of work would be better spent by the county council taking traffic away and on to a south Maidstone relief road from the A274 to the A20 via Leeds and Langley. Cllr John Barned describes the

road widening as an unnecessary “plaster to patch a far larger prob- lem”. He said: “There has always been

a bottleneck here and widening the road is not going to make much dif- ference. “If I thought it was a good scheme I would say we have to go with it, but I think the money would be better spent on a relief road.” He has been contacted by dozens

of people who live on the Sutton Road slip road that runs parallel to the A274 who say squeezing three lanes north and south into the available space will carve up the green space that has served as a buffer for years – bringing traffic “nose close” to their homes. The county council says land- scaping and acoustic fencing will

Cllrs Matt Burton and John Barned

address the “understandable con- cern” about noise in Bell Meadow and Sutton Road. But Cllr Barned says: “The road widening will completely remove the green buffer that has protected properties in Sutton Road, leaving residents staring straight at the traf- fic and homeowners on the other side in Bell Meadow in the same position.” Park Wood councillor Matt Bur-

ton said: “I use Willington Street regularly and it is a nightmare at peak times. There is a lot of damage to pedestrian railings from vehicles

and widening the road here will help. Obviously, the longer term solution will be a (Leeds-Langley) relief road.” Green Party spokesman Stuart

Jeffery said the scheme is a “com- plete waste of money”and £3m would be better spent on improv- ing bus services. The county council says that with

the full cost of the road widening available from Government and de- velopers, the scheme offers an op- portunity to improve journey times on the strategic A274, which is no- torious for peak time traffic delays.

The cash will also provide dedi- cated turning lanes and upgraded traffic controls into Willington Street andWallisAvenue, aswell as the creation of bus laybys to im- prove traffic flows. However, it concedes that vegetation and a number of mature trees will need to be removed to accommodate the widened junction. A Kent County Council spokesman said: “Junction im- provements on Sutton Road ad- dress the existing congestion and future growth in the surrounding area.Without these improvements, the junction will be over capacity imminently and congestion will worsen. This project is part of a package of schemes within the Maidstone area to tackle existing congestion and is funded through the South East Local Enterprise Partnership.Without this funding, it would not be possible to make these important changes to the junction at this location. “KCC is committed to assessing

the need for a relief road and con- tinues to develop the business case for future financial bids.” For more information on the Sut-

ton Road (A274) improvement project, visit tonroad.

Campaigners’ signs ‘stolen and dumped’

POLICE are investigating the al- leged thefts and criminal damage to signs put up by supporters of the WILLact pro-relief road pressure group.

WILLact founder Jenny Sutton

(right) has urged others to contact Kent Police if they are victims of vandalism. Kent Police have appealed for wit-

nesses to the alleged offences. Don Wright claims “Support the

Where will A274 traffic go?

CONSERVATIVE Shepway borough councillor Marion Ring lives in Westmorland Road and says she and her neighbours are con- cerned about the loss of trees and where traffic will be diverted while the seven months of A274 work is carried out. She said: “This is a very, very big project and I’d like to know

where the county council intends to divert traffic. Northumberland Road is already a rat run for vehicles cutting across the estate to avoid traffic hold-ups. They simply aren’t up to this, particularly the volume of traffic we are seeing today.” Cllr Ring was among many due to put her question to KCC rep- resentatives at a public exhibition about the scheme at St Martin’s Church, in Northumberland Road, as Downs Mail went to press.

4 Maidstone East September 2017

Relief Road” signs commissioned by WILLact and some postswere stolen and dumped onWillington Green. WILLact supporter Mr Wright,

who lives inWillington Street, said: “This is theft of a sign which has been placed on private property, and, certainly in the case of those dumped, of littering. I believe that both actions carry some form of punishment by the authorities. “I’d ask those responsible to use

the appropriate channels if they have an objection, and not to resort to such childish actions.Whyis there no longer respect for other people’s views?”

Kent Police said it has received a

report that 14 white signs on wooden stakes have been damaged in gardens alongWillington Street in Maidstone. A police spokesman said: “The

signs are reported to have been dam- aged between 10am on Saturday, July 1 and 10am on Thursday, July 27, 2017, with some being deposited in theWillington Green area.” Anyone with information that can

help is asked to contact Kent Police on 01622 604100, quoting reference YY/22683/17, or call Kent Crimestop- pers on 0800 555 111.

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