Medway Council have revealed that repairs to the Medway Tunnel will total £672,104.
The Council has not budgeted for these repairs, and despite lobbying from Labour & Co-operative councillors, the Department for Transport (DFT) have refused to help with the costs of running the Tunnel.
In 2008 the Conservative-run Council purchased the tunnel from the Rochester Bridge Trust for just £1, despite warnings from Medway Labour that this would be a bad deal for the taxpayer.
The government has told the Council multiple times that they will not provide any funding for the Tunnel, so Cllr Jarrett needs to quickly come up with a more creative solution in order to rectify his mistake Cllr Tristan Osborne, Medway Labour & Co-operative’s Audit Spokesperson
Cllr Tristan Osborne, Medway Labour & Co-operative’s Audit Spokesperson said, ‘Once again Alan Jarrett has attempted to deflect attention from his own poor business decisions by propagating the obvious lie that Medway Labour & Co-operative would close Medway Tunnel.
‘Had Medway Labour been in charge of the Council, we would never have made such a bad deal; any sensible business person realises that Rochester Bridge Trust sold the tunnel for £1, with a £3.6m lump sum, because it is a bad investment.
‘Despite having raised this issue consistently for the last decade, the Conservatives’ staggering complacency on this issue has led us to where we are today. There has been absolutely no planning around this impending financial disaster that has been so clearly on the horizon since the Council purchased the Tunnel.
‘The government has told the Council multiple times that they will not provide any funding for the Tunnel, so Cllr Jarrett needs to quickly come up with a more creative solution in order to rectify his mistake. The more likely outcome is that Medway taxpayers will see their council tax increase, not to pay for the vital public services the council is supposed to provide, but to pay for the Conservatives’ poor business decision.’
Despite having three Conservative MPs in Medway, they have totally failed to successfully lobby Government Ministers to provide a long term funding solution for the tunnel Cllr Andy Stamp, Medway Labour & Co-operative Shadow Cabinet member for Regeneration & Culture
Cllr Andy Stamp, Medway Labour & Co-operative Shadow Cabinet member for Regeneration & Culture said, ‘Medway Council took on responsibility for funding the Tunnel when they made this terrible deal. Medway Tunnel is a vital part of Medway’s infrastructure and it’s completely unacceptable that the Conservatives have no real plans on how to keep it open and make the vital repairs.
‘Despite having three Conservative MPs in Medway, they have totally failed to successfully lobby Government Ministers to provide a long term funding solution for the tunnel.
‘At a time where we’re seeing Conservative Councils going bankrupt and Medway Council has announced a £7m funding gap, this issue has the potential to push council finances over the edge.’
‘Road maintenance funding is not ring-fenced, meaning the council could potentially take this money away from any other service in order to make up the funding. As if austerity hasn’t decimated our public services enough, our children’s services, adult social care, and community safety budgets are all at risk of being ransacked by the need to keep Medway Tunnel operational.’
For background on this issue, please see the below:
Business Support Overview and Scrutiny papers (28th November 2019): https://democracy.medway.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=4505&T=10
Lack of funding for urgent Medway Tunnel repairs: https://www.kentonline.co.uk/kmtv/video/lack-of-funding-for-urgent-medway-tunnel-repairs-28228/
Medway Labour write to the DFT for funding Medway Tunnel: https://www.facebook.com/MedwayLabour/posts/1713951168692899
Two Conservative Cabinet members with responsibility for Highways and Finance are also members of the Rochester Bridge Trust: http://www.rbt.org.uk/about-us/wardens-and-assistants/