Page last updated at 10:07 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 11:07 UK

Row over Gateway funding 'cuts'

Map of the Thames Gateway area
The project is expected to deliver homes and jobs

Funding worth 23m has been cut from a road building scheme that is part of the Thames Gateway regeneration project, Kent council leaders claim.

Dartford and Gravesham Councils said they had originally been promised stand-alone funding for a scheme in Swanscombe.

But the authorities said they had now been told the money would have to come from scheme's overall budget.

The government has denied making any cuts in the regeneration scheme.

Dartford and Gravesham councils said they were told in June 2007 by the then chief executive, Judith Armitt, that they would receive 23m for a "stand alone" road building project to support the Eastern Quarry housing project in Swanscombe.

The two Conservative-controlled authorities said they were informed last month by the government that funding for the project would come from the regeneration project's overall 9bn budget.

'Utter nonsense'

Michael Snelling, leader of Gravesham Borough Council, said: "I feel that there has been a lack of trust here.

"We entered into an agreement in all good faith and with trust. I feel that trust has been lost."

Dartford Council leader, Jeremy Kite, said: "Somewhere down the line there's this old fashioned view that we don't want to pay for it and it's a shame really because it has rocked our trust.

"What we're doing in the Thames Gateway and what some of the developers are doing here requires a great deal of courage and innovation and entrepreneurial activity."

He added: "What we're finding when you hit the government is that there is a rather civil service mentality which is holding it back a little bit."

A spokesman for the Department of Community and Local Government (DCLG) described the claims as "utter nonsense" and denied cutting any funding for projects in the Thames Gateway.

"We set out our plans for the Gateway last year and remain firmly committed to investing in major housing, employment, transport and social infrastructure projects to transform the lives of local people."

The 9bn Thames Gateway project is expected to deliver 160,000 homes and 225,000 jobs along the Thames estuary in east London, Essex and Kent by 2016.


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