M25 fatal: Council leader reflects on consequences for Thurrock

“The past few days have highlighted the issue of congestion on and around the river crossing, and we should look at the costs,” says Thurrock Council Leader, Cllr John Kent.

Speaking on Thursday and in a general discussion of a public issue, he said: “I am not suggesting that Tuesday’s tragedy or the problems drivers faced on Wednesday and the previous week could be solved by doing as we are asking, but they bring the question of congestion into sharp focus – for the council, local business and local people in general.

“Nobody could argue with the need to close the southbound carriageway of the M25 between Junctions 29 and 30, but there should be a way of countering or at least easing the knock on problems.

“The northbound motorway jammed up as far back as Swanley and the Ockendon area was also brought close to a standstill.

“This, combined with the problems on the A13 and A128, led to major difficulties getting around the borough.

“Then on Wednesday morning, a small incident on the south side of the river led to hold-ups on our side again.”

He said: “The congestion our roads suffer on a regular – sometimes even weekly – basis hits our local businesses disproportionately.

“It means they can’t move their goods efficiently; it’s a barrier to Thurrock’s businesses getting customers, even getting to their current customers; and it makes it difficult for them to guarantee their workforce is in place.

“In a time when businesses are battling for every penny, this extra issue threatens to slow down investment and growth here at a time when we’re otherwise best placed to bring in money and jobs.”

He added: “At the same time it hits local people who cannot get to school or work, or perhaps go shopping to keep our economy ticking over.

“This is why we’re saying don’t concentrate on building a new crossing, concentrate efforts on freeing up the flow through the present crossing; concentrate on spending money now on creating a fully designed and fully tested Junction 30, something that will allow Thurrock business to fulfil its potential, something that will provide a long-term answer.

“If that means spending £500 million on Junction 30, then that’s what should happen … now! It’s cheaper than any new crossing, whatever way you look at it. Cheaper financially; cheaper on its environmental impact; and cheaper for the country by allowing business to flourish.”

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