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Minister tours Medway

Tue 15 December 2009, 9:11 am

Thames Gateway minister Shahid Malik MP visited Medway to see progress on key schemes in a regeneration programme now valued at 6 billion.
First stop was Medway Park, a training base for athletes in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics and a regional centre of sporting excellence after the Games. The running track is ready, the sports hall under construction, the 11 million project ahead of schedule.

Ten years ago Medway had no universities. Mr Malik toured the campus at Chatham Maritime where there are now four universities and 10,000 students.

He was shown the brand new MidKent College campus at Gillingham and the Employ Medway base in Chatham, which provides advice and training for the recently unemployed, graduates and people looking to start a business. It's helped 1,700 people in its first three months.

Next stop was the site of the demolished Sir John Hawkins flyover in Chatham - the area of Medway seeing the greatest physical change. The minister was briefed about a two-year, £8 million package of improvements to key roads and junctions. The work will improve traffic flow, create quality public open space and encourage private sector investment in new homes, shops, bars, restaurants and arts and entertainment venues. The programme, funded by the Homes and Communities Agency, includes plans for a striking new dynamic bus station. "Dynamic" because it will use live traffic information for maximum efficiency.

The minister saw Chatham Historic Dockyard and Gillingham railway station, where £3 million of government funding has been secured to upgrade the station's facade and forecourt.

He was told about the newly-expanded Medway Innovation Centre, which has signed up 15 new tenants this year. It's the only civilian incubator base in the UK specialising in the security and resilience market.

The tour ended with a visit to Rochester Riverside - cleared, flood-defended and ready for a new waterside community of 2,000 homes.

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