THE GOVERNMENT has launched two consultations about the Thames river crossing this week (Monday, 5 November) and Thurrock Council leader, Cllr John Kent is urging local people to take part.
One deals exclusively with the crossing – from the Highways Agency and about details of the proposals to introduce free-flow tolls and take away the booths.
The second is from the Department for Transport, and deals with the enforcement of charging schemes nationwide – including the Dartford Crossing.
Speaking on Monday, Cllr Kent said: “It is important that local people have their say in both consultations.
“The council will be providing its own responses, but the more people who take part the better. I have asked that links to the consultations are put on the council’s home page.”
The crossing-only consultation asks eight specific questions, ranging from “Do you agree with the proposal to introduce post-pay periods that would allow road users to pay the Dartford Crossing road user charge following use of the Crossing and prior to being subject to enforcement?” to “Do you agree with the proposal to set the same penalty charge rate for all vehicles?”.
It also includes details of the draft charging scheme order, a list of statutory consultees – including Thurrock Council – and an impact assessment.
It runs for 12 weeks until 28 January 2013.
The “The Road User Charging Scheme (Enforcement)(England) Regulations” consultation seeks views about how free-flow charging can be enforced.
Cllr Kent said: “I have long called for the introduction of free-flow charging at the crossing if getting rid of the tolls altogether isn’t an option. These consultations will be an important part of getting rid of the stop-start booths and the congestion they cause.
“Unfortunately, free-flow charging is only half the answer. We want the junction of the M25 and A13 sorted out and modernised too. Last Friday showed what can happen when accidents happen on these major routes – everything from Purfleet to the centre of Grays came to a standstill … again!
“We are expecting the government to launch a consultation on the crossing itself soon. They’re saying another crossing is needed, at Purfleet, Grays or Tilbury-Chadwell-Orsett and we must all be ready for that.
“We’ll be saying: sort out Junction 30 and you won’t need to blight our homes and businesses with a third crossing, sort out Junction 30 and keep business moving.”