Kent County Council has made its priorities clear after its integrated transport budget was slashed by £4.1m.
Cuts to transport schemes were inevitable after the coalition government reduced its funding, but Kent’s choices of what to cut and what to keep suggest the council favoured traditional road projects over more environmentally friendly forms of transport.
For example, Kent is retaining just over £250k of quality bus partnership schemes to improve local bus services – but is ditching well over a million pounds’ worth of them.
Meanwhile, the council is retaining £900k of cycling schemes – but is axeing £1.3m worth, including a variety of cycle route schemes.
This all contrasts with Kent’s attitude towards road schemes. The council is ploughing ahead with more than £1.5m worth of ‘network benefit schemes’ – that’d be road improvements – which is more than double the value of the road schemes that are getting the chop.
And that’s before you get to the £1m A2 slip road scheme near Canterbury and over a million pounds’ worth of Urban Traffic Management Control (UTMC) projects – all of which Kent is retaining.
The council says it has judged what schemes to keep according to four criteria – whether a scheme improves road safety, reduces congestion, is already underway, or has generated significant match funding.
The result appears to be a preference for standard road projects over specific bus schemes and cycle routes.
Perhaps that represents the reality of getting from A to B in an at least partly rural county.
Or perhaps it simply represents short-sightedness in the face of swingeing central government cuts.