Thursday, 11 November 2010

Transport Minister Pressed To Fully Fund Medway Tunnel

Medway tunnel could be fully funded by the government in the future if a local campaign is successful.

Mark Reckless MP and the local councillor responsible for transport, Phil Filmer, met with the Transport Minister, Mike Penning, on Tuesday (9th November) to discuss the future funding of the tunnel.

Currently Medway Council is the only unitary authority in the country to have responsibility for such a tunnel, which serves 46,000 vehicles every day.

Nationally, most tunnels are either funded from tolls or are on major roads where the funding comes directly from the government.

In contrast Medway Council only receives funding for the length of the road inside the tunnel, which is the equivalent of 725 metres, and not for its running costs. This means the council has to rely on its own highways budget.

At the meeting, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Mike Penning MP promised to raise the issue with his fellow minister to see if the tunnel could be included in a new asset register from 2012.

If this were to happen, the council would then receive the necessary funding from the government, as part of its formula grant, to manage the Medway tunnel.

Mark Reckless is also writing to the Transport Minister Norman Baker to see if he would be willing to visit Medway to see the tunnel for himself. This follows on from a campaign by local councillor Herbie Crack who is working in partnership with Mr Reckless to get the minister to come to Medway.

Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services Cllr Phil Filmer said:

"The minister was very sympathetic to Medway’s position as the only unitary authority in the country which has to maintain a tunnel with a value of £120 million from its highway budget. Funding for the tunnel is purely based on the equivalent of a section of duel carriageway 725 metres long, which does not take account of the tunnels running costs and needs to change".

Mark Reckless MP said:

"I was very pleased with how this issue is being progressed by the coalition government and, in conjunction with what other councillors are doing locally to convince ministers to visit the site, will hopefully result in a positive outcome and see the tunnel getting the funding it requires."


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