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Courier says: We need the A21 dualled, Prime Minister!

By Kent and Sussex Courier  |  Posted: December 07, 2011

  • Cllr Bob Atwood with the Courier's A21 petition at the Town Hall in Tunbridge Wells on Tuesday 29th September

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HELP us send a strong message to David Cameron that the gridlocked A21 needs widening.

The Prime Minister has said there will be money for road projects – and that a decision will come down to who shouts loudest.

In response, the Courier has launched its A21 For 2016 campaign, so the community can leave the Government in no doubt of the importance of dualling the single-lane section between Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.

The £120 million project to widen the road was shelved during the Government spending review last year.

But the price tag has since been reduced to £70 million, the cost of the vital public inquiry will be picked up by local councils and Mr Cameron has now breathed further life into the project with his call to arms.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's leader, Councillor Bob Atwood, was at a meeting of council leaders at Downing Street last week. He said: "The Prime Minister said there is some money for roads – if you want it you have got to go and make noise.

"Keep on pressing the button, that was his clear message."

The next round of road-building projects is set to start in 2016, with decisions on which will be the lucky ones being made in the meantime.

Our A21 For 2016 campaign will push for the vital work to begin in four years' time.

Mr Atwood was the first to sign our campaign petition on Tuesday. He said: "There may be no money now, but if we don't start campaigning now then in four or five years' time we will be behind.

"When there is money we want to be at the front of the queue, not at the back of the queue."

Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark, who has been lobbying for the A21 dualling in the corridors of power, threw his weight behind our campaign. He said: "Everything points in the direction of this being an investment which should be taken as soon as funds become available.

"It's important that the decision-makers are clear that this is a scheme that may only involve a small stretch of road but has a very wide impact on many people in the area."

News that there is hope for the A21 dualling was welcomed by those who live and work in Tunbridge Wells.

Marketa Thomas, 35, of School Rise, said: "I'm sure dualling the road would help the flow of traffic."

The book keeper thinks widening it would also reduce pollution caused by queuing traffic.

Jane Woollard, 48, a library worker of London Road in Southborough, said: "Getting to Tunbridge Wells is a nightmare. It all gets so clogged up and it needs something – dualling could be the answer."

The RAC Foundation agrees with the views of those people using the A21 every day. It last week declared the dualling project as the best value road scheme in the UK and said that the A21 should be top of the list for Government funding.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "This project deserves to be given the green light. The numbers all stack up in its favour.

"In human terms it would ease the stress for the thousands of drivers who have to negotiate this stretch of road every day."

The Freight Transport Association condemned the single-lane A21 as dangerous and environmentally-damaging, and said it was "strangling" local businesses.

Natalie Chapman, head of policy for Kent, said the A21 presented a "crucial link".

Mr Atwood urged everyone to support the Courier's campaign and get the A21 dualling to the top of the Government's road scheme list.

He said: "History has shown that people power really does exist and if enough people make enough noise about an issue they will eventually get noticed. If enough people get together then things really do change."

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