Thurrock Council Leader, Cllr John Kent, has cautiously welcomed the government’s announcement that it is consulting on the future of the Dartford Crossing tolls, saying “about time too”!
The government announced on Thursday (30 June) that its consultation was open — there is a link to it on the council’s home web page (www.thurrock.gov.uk) — it runs until 23 September).
Cllr Kent said: “It was last autumn when the government said it wanted to increase tolls at the crossing and that it wanted to introduce free-flow toll collection.”
He said he wanted to study the details of the consultation before making any detailed comment, but added: “It’s really quite simple. We want the toll booths gone.
“Preferably we want the tolls gone, but unfortunately I can’t see that happening, so I want to see free-flow tolling like the Congestion Charge in London and as soon as possible.
“I also want our local residents’ discount maintained, we suffer enough and others using the crossing face price hikes of between £1 for cars and over £2 for big goods vehicles.”
Cllr Kent explained the situation by asking people to imagine if every vehicle entering the Congestion Charge area had to stop, hand over the money and then drive on, “London would come to a standstill — and that’s what happens in Thurrock”.
Cllr Kent added: “I am concerned that the government is still looking at three potential ‘third crossing’ options. I’m sure that if we get free flowing traffic over the crossing and the improvements needed to Junction 30/31 — each estimated to improve capacity by 20 per cent — then a third crossing blighting Thurrock won’t be needed.
This week, Cllr Kent said: “Over the past few years a great deal of work has been done by the council and the development corporation on preparing Thurrock’s regeneration, but proposals for thousands of new jobs and thousands of new homes rely on government co-operation.
“If we are to make a success of regenerating Thurrock, we have to get the infrastructure in place and in time.
“I call on every resident of Thurrock to get online and fill in the consultation paper — we need free-flow tolls now.”