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Fury over £23m road funding cut

PUBLISHED: 10:44 26 June 2008 | UPDATED: 09:53 23 August 2010

FUNDING totalling £23million has been cut from a Thames Gateway regeneration road building scheme, according to council leaders. Both Gravesham and Dartford council say the government has cut £23m of funding originally ring-fenced for a road building pro

FUNDING totalling £23million has been cut from a Thames Gateway regeneration road building scheme, according to council leaders.

Both Gravesham and Dartford council say the government has cut £23m of funding originally ring-fenced for a road building project to support the Eastern Quarry housing project in Swanscombe.

They claim the money was included as part of a £166m deal made up of government and private money and put together by Kent Thameside Development Board last year.

But the authorities say they have now been told that the money will have to come from the scheme's overall budget instead.

Leader of Gravesham Council Mike Snelling said: "It's quite disgraceful. It displays a lack of trust and they should reverse their decision. It's as simple as that. It has the capacity to hinder the regeneration efforts of Dartford and Gravesham."

The money was calculated to cover the cost of the road infrastructure necessary to support the 25,000 new homes being built in the area.

Leader of Dartford Council Jeremy Kite added: "It's frustrating when you think you have agreed on a deal as we all did and then someone re-reads it.

"The money was ring-fenced in our minds and that is why we are a bit annoyed about it.

"We explained at the time that money would be needed to build more roads if there were going to be more houses or the traffic in the area would just grind to a halt."

Despite the claims, the government denies making any cuts in the regeneration scheme's budget.

A Department for Community and Local Government spokesperson said: "This is utter codswallop - we haven't cut any funding for these or any other projects in the Thames Gateway.

"We set out our plans for the Gateway last year and remain firmly committed to investing in major housing, employment, transport and social infrastructure projects to transform the lives of local people."

The Thames Gateway stretches along the banks of the River Thames from south east London through to Essex and Kent. It has been earmarked for an extensive £9bn regeneration project on the brownfield land left derelict by the departure of the manufacturing industries. The government aims to build 160,000 houses by 2016.

jason.goodyer@archant.co.uk

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