I recently brought together representatives from Kent County Council, Faversham Town Council, the Faversham Society and the Faversham Creek Trust to discuss progress since their last meeting on 18 September.
I opened the meeting on 27 November by reporting that Robert Courts MP, the Maritime Minister, has still not received a reply to his letter from Peel Ports. I met the previous Maritime Minister, Kelly Tolhurst MP, who agreed to raise this with Peel Ports.
KCC reported that engineering design work is progressing on the new bridge, gates, sluices, electrification etc. Site work is currently taking place and initial findings indicate that the abutments are less capable of bearing the weight of a new bridge than had been hoped. This work is essential before going out to tender for the new bridge. Design and engineering work so far still indicate a swing bridge. But a lifting bridge has not been ruled out.
Long term running and maintenance costs are being estimated with a view to minimising these by appropriate design. Design work is in progress on the opening gates and sluices with consideration of the possibility of automatic sluices linked to tides. Peel Ports have been kept informed at every stage of the work.
A positive meeting has been held recently between KCC and Faversham Town Council on the future operation and maintenance of the bridge. KCC can operate the bridge remotely from Ramsgate, maintain the roadway, and organise the maintenance of the whole structure. However, KCC would wish the Town Council to be responsible for the bridge other than their traffic/transport responsibility.
FTC reported that they remained committed to making a financial contribution to a new bridge but would need to know far more about the cost and resource implications before they could make a commitment to managing the bridge in the future. FTC are due to discuss this at the next full Council Meeting on 7 December.
KCC reported that design work would take until March/April 2021, followed by tendering and contractor selection.
I will bring the group together for another meeting in early 2021.