THURROCK Council Leader Cllr John Kent says he fears the government’s failure to make a decision on the Lower Thames Crossing will blight local business and homes.
The government announced on Thursday (12 December) morning that it was reducing the options for a new crossing following public consultation, discarding Option B, and carrying out further work on the remaining options.
Cllr Kent said: “By delaying the decision, they’re showing that there are some very serious questions that still need answering – questions posed by the council and questions posed by all the local people who responded to the consultation.
“But businesses are already telling us they are concerned by the uncertainty caused by the previous delays – now there are further delays.
“Business doesn’t know whether or where to invest, and home owners along both route corridors are also left not knowing the future – it’s not good enough.
“Obviously it would have been better if the announcement actually confirmed that none of the original options through Thurrock would be taken forward, but now we know we have time to press our case further.
“While I’m happy the government has realised its original proposals are unworkable, I’m also saddened that they didn’t decide to look at options further to the east.
“Our Green Belt and villages are still under threat from Option C – along with the congestion and jams a bigger junction on the A13 and a new junction on the M25 will cause – and any increased crossing close to the present one will simply guarantee more pollution and more jams across the west of the borough.
Our case hasn’t changed. We will continue the fight for Thurrock jobs and Thurrock growth and we still do not believe a new river crossing in Thurrock is needed – there are better, quicker and cheaper options available.
“We’re still being promised an end to the toll booths – within a year now – and if you add that to proper investment in the A13’s junction with the M25, far more than the £150 million sticking plaster proposed, then the need for a crossing disappears.
“Not only will traffic flow more easily north to south along the motorway, it will also provide an extra boost for local businesses – the ones we have now and the ones we want to attract in the future.
“Thurrock is going to become the import-export engine of the country over the next few years as well as the creative heart of Britain and the UK’s entrepreneurial centre.
“Proper investment in the roads infrastructure – that’s the A13 where it’s just a two-lane dual carriageway, Junctions 30 and 31, and the Lakeside links – is needed quickly to support that private investment here.
“We made the first steps on that journey at cabinet last night, now it’s important central government gets the message too.”