Figures uncovered by Medway Labour Group have revealed that the Medway Tunnel now costs Medway Council £415,000 a year in maintenance fees, plus an additional £14,000 every three years.
At last week’s Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting, Medway Labour and Co-operative Spokesperson for Regeneration, Cllr Andy Stamp raised concerns about the continuing failure of the Conservative-run Council to secure a long-term funding solution for the Medway Tunnel. Last week it was revealed that the Council are looking into alternative financial solutions for the Medway Tunnel, which was this week revealed to cost the Council
When questioned on the issue, Cllr Phil Filmer, the Conservative Portfolio Holder responsible, confirmed that the funds from the Rochester Bridge Trust which were initially used to maintain the tunnel, have run out.
Cllr Filmer conceded that the Council had still not been successful in securing funding from the Department for Transport to pay for the tunnel, and that the Council was investigating whether it could use ‘Section 106’ developer contributions to plug the financial hole.
This lack of financial competence is really worrying, and I urge the Council to prioritise conversations with Government to secure a serious, long-term funding solution for the tunnel that does not take funds away from our local community. Cllr Andy Stamp
Cllr Andy Stamp said, ‘I’ve got real concerns about the lack of long-term funding solutions for the Medway Tunnel. It’s alarming to see the Council resort to investigating the use of Section 106 funds for the tunnel, and a reflection of quite desperate measures.
‘Section 106 contributions are supposed to provide funds for affordable housing, improving the environment and green spaces as well as supporting local healthcare services – not maintaining an existing tunnel that we should not have bought in the first place.
‘By redirecting these vital community funds, the Council are treating local people with contempt. In 2006, the AA rated the tunnel among the 10 worst of 50 it inspected across Europe. Just 2 years later, the Council decided to purchase the Tunnel – a move they did not have to take – for just £1.
‘This lack of financial competence is really worrying, and I urge the Council to prioritise conversations with national Government to secure a serious, long-term funding solution for the tunnel that does not take funds away from our local community.’
Cllr Andy Stamp also raised concerns that Volker Highways, the provider awarded the maintenance contracts for the tunnel three years ago, has not yet faced scrutiny from the committee.