A21 link may never happen (1/3/99) By Trisha Fermor
The Government does not intend to do anything about the “missing link” between Tonbridge and Pembury for years — if ever, claimed MP Sir John Stanley this week. He was angry at the response from roads minister Lord Whitty who said the dualling of the A21 between the two bypasses would be studied again. Sir John, together with his Tunbridge Wells counterpart Archie Norman, recently met Lord Whitty to press for the scheme to go ahead now.
Sir John told the Tonbridge Courier this week: “The letter from the Minister for Roads, who should be called the Minister for Roads Studies, offers only studies and yet more studies. “It is a totally inadequate response. The Government clearly doesn’t intend to do anything about the Tonbridge to Pembury dualling scheme for years — if ever.” In the meantime, said Sir John, there are potentially life-threatening delays in getting ambulances to Pembury and Kent and Sussex Hospitals; children are late to school and job opportunities in the whole Tonbridge -Tunbridge Wells area are threatened because of traffic congestion. He went on: “The Government’s roads policy is very simple — it’s more or less to stop roads being built and to tax the motorist to bits. “The motorist has already been hit with big increases in fuel tax and car licence tax with no doubt worse to come in the budget. Round the corner are the government’s new taxes to enter towns and cities by car, taxes on parking your car where you work, and taxes to go on motorways and trunk roads. “Motorists are Labour’s top target for stealth taxes. It’s time for them to protest.” Lord Whitty said the A21 dualling could form part of the Access to Hastings review which will take “at least 12 months to complete”.
Any recommendations could then go to the South East Regional Planning Conference (SERPLAN) which would advise on the regional priority and then onto the transport secretary, John Prescott. The A21 scheme, however, is in competition with various plans to alleviate traffic problems in the Hastings and Bexhill areas which will also form part of the study.