'Red routes' to start on Kent roads from next week carrying a £70 fine

New 'red routes' are due to come into effect from next Monday (May 20) on some roads in Kent. And there seems confusion locally over what they are and how they work.

The controversial move will see double yellow lines turning red. But the scheme has been questioned by traders and residents.

The change in the past week, which has often happened overnight, comes ahead of the introduction of tougher parking restrictions this month. The so-called red routes are being installed in five parts of the Medway Towns and drivers will be fined for stopping unnecessarily or parking in the new zones.

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The key differences are that loading and Blue Badge parking is permitted on double yellows – but not on double reds. Cameras will monitor each area and anyone caught breaking the new rules, which come into force on May 20, will be fined £70 - reduced to £35 if paid within a certain time period.

For the first six months of the scheme, warning letters will be sent for a first offence, rather than fines. The new red routes cover parts of Corporation Street and Star Hill in Rochester, The Brook and Best Street in Chatham, and A2 Rainham High Street.

They have specific loading and delivery bays, as well as disabled bays, where drivers are allowed to stop and will not be fined. Medway Council says it hopes it will ease congestion, others claim it is simply a way of making money.

Red routes were first suggested for Medway in late 2022 and underwent rounds of public consultation in July and December last year. But the appearance of the red paint has caught many by surprise – and there are still those who do not know what it means.

Wendy Stepney, of BDL Gas services in Rainham High Street, said: “We knew they were coming but we weren’t actually told when, so it was a bit of a shock for us to come in and there they are, the red lines. It’s going to cause us problems because deliveries will be an issue for us.

"Some of the lorries are artics [articulated lorries] and they really don’t have anywhere to go.” Mrs Stepney, whose son runs the business, said a new loading area had not materialised.

“We asked for space for parking around the side in Quinnell Street, which we were told would be allocated, but it hasn’t been,” she added. She also questioned whether the new measures would keep traffic moving.

“The problem is where they’ve been digging up the roads here, there and everywhere and causing congestion,” she said. “Red routes aren’t going to solve that.”

Also in Rainham High Street, Mike, a kitchen designer at Kutchenhaus, agreed the real cause of gridlock was constant roadworks. He said: “We’ve been well-informed about the red routes, we were given a lot of information about them.

"But it’s the roadworks which are the real problem because they’ve been going on for so long. They get finished with one part of the road and then just move further along, so the problem is still there.”

Some residents said they were unaware of the red route proposals and the first they knew of them was when they saw the new markings. Paula, who lives near to Rainham High Street, didn’t know anything about them.

She said: “I had no idea, I don’t even know what they mean. It’s a nice new spot of paint, but I haven’t got a clue what for.

"Something does need doing about the traffic, because sometimes you don’t move for what seems like an age here, but I think the never-ending roadworks is more the problem.” Steve, 30, who works across the Towns as a handyman, said he had heard about the red routes some time ago but was caught off-guard when they appeared.

He added: “If the council says they think it’ll help, then I hope it does, but I’ll believe it when I see it.”

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