THURROCK Council Leader, Cllr John Kent, has cautiously welcomed a statement from Roads Minister Mike Penning about plans for the Dartford Crossing.
Mr Penning, speaking on the BBC today (Monday, 10 January) said the toll barriers at the crossing would be removed by the end of 2011.
In response, Cllr Kent said: “If this is true, then it is welcome news and something we in Thurrock have been seeking for many years. It’s not the complete answer, but it is a start.
“It seems the tolls will remain but some form of number plate recognition system will be installed — like the central London Congestion scheme — allowing a free flow of traffic.
“However, I am cautious about this. When the government announced rises in the tolls they promised that the money would be ring-fenced to crossing improvements and they’ve gone back on their word there.
“They also said there would be a public consultation into the rises launched by the end of 2010. We’re now ten days into 2011 and there is still no consultation.”
Cllr Kent added: “There are some other issues too. Free-flowing traffic through the tolls will help, but improvements to Junction 30/31 are still urgently needed and then there are the questions around another Lower Thames Crossing — when, where and how?
“There is also the issue of Thurrock residents’ discount. The government has been very quiet about that and I want confirmation that the discount will remain.”