Dartford Crossing and traffic issues – With the alterations to the northbound carriageway and the introduction of free flow due to be completed by late spring or early summer, hopefully traffic problems heading towards Essex will be reduced. This in turn should ease the issues which affect Bob Dunn Way and Princes Road areas. However, when there are incidents affecting the tunnels, these instances could happen again. It took a while but, following several articles here and Dartford Labour launching their campaign to ‘Get Dartford Moving’, Councillor Kite finally acknowledged ‘that a new approach to keeping people moving is needed if the area is to continue contributing to the south east economy at current levels’. We look forward to this new approach being developed.
Lowfield Street redevelopment – Perhaps 2015 will be the year when we finally find out what Spenhill/Tesco intend to do with the site. Certainly, there has been more activity in the last few weeks with the demolition of part of the area. Tesco are still adopting the line ‘We continue to work closely with Dartford council on our plans and will keep the local community updated on progress’. Councillor Kite’s words back in October echo the sentiments of many residents ‘Tesco’s treatment of Dartford has been nothing short of a scandal and although they say no decision has been made to change direction on its Dartford retail scheme I get the impression that they simply don’t have a clue what might happen next. Tesco appears to have no proper strategy and I have told them straightforwardly that Dartford will not stand by while they dither and further harm our town’. In the meantime, Dartford Labour continue to criticise the Conservative Council’s lack of plan B whilst offering no constructive suggestions to date. What happens in 2015 is really anybody’s guess.
Lidl – It seems that Lidl will make another application to develop their site on the old police station in Instone Road. Recently Councillors from both the Labour and Conservative groups have been involved in a discussion on Twitter regarding who was to blame for the previous application being turned down by DBC. It is my belief that both parties were to blame and that the decision made was not in the best interest of Dartford residents. Hopefully, a sensible resolution can be reached this time around.
Darent Valley Hospital parking – Another instance where it has finally been admitted by Darent Valley Hospital that this is a problem; Dartford residents have known this to be the case for a long time. Last month, DVH advised that they would ‘be making a formal submission to Dartford Council next year to create a further 400 shared spaces for both public and staff’. Again, hopefully this issue can be resolved sooner rather than later.
2015/16 Council Tax – Could this be another year when Dartford Borough Council freeze their part of our Council Tax Bill? If so, this would be the fifth year in succession that DBC rates have remain the same. However, central government continues to cut its help to local councils in varying degrees. It appears inevitable that Kent County Council will raise its part of the Council Tax by 1.99%, as last year. Also, there will probably be similar rises from the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner and Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority. If DBC can maintain the existing rate, without cutting services, they should be applauded. However, let’s hope that if this is the case, we will not have a repeat of certain Councillors boasting of this record whilst voting to increase KCC’s rates. This can only lead to the accusation that ‘party is put before people’.
Paramount and Ebbsfleet Garden City developments - Following last week’s publication of the ‘Ebbsfleet Development Corporation; Analysis of consultation responses and next steps’, the Government intends to continue with the proposal to establish a Development Corporation at Ebbsfleet. Subject to Parliamentary approval, this will be operational in the first half of 2015. No doubt we will see further consultation on both of these projects during next year.