LEADING MPs heard Thurrock’s case for better consultation and more open sharing of information when council Leader, Cllr John Kent spoke to the Transport Select Committee on Monday (12 January).
Cllr Kent agreed with other witnesses that there was an issue with the current crossing and M25 and said: “You do need to start looking at that outer orbital road and you don’t do that by building Option C; you do that by revisiting Option D and I will say again it was taken off the table far far too early.”
And, speaking afterwards, he said: “In February the Secretary of State for Transport will be giving evidence. I hope the committee will ask him why Option D was deleted so quickly and why he is refusing to investigate it now.”
Thurrock Council had provided the committee’s investigation into “strategic river crossings” with written evidence late last year, but Monday’s session – at Portcullis House – gave Cllr Kent the chance to emphasise key issues.
Since 2011 Thurrock’s campaign against the need for any new Thames crossing in Thurrock has centred on the need to introduce free-flow tolls – or to do away with the tolls – and to invest fully in the two M25 junctions (20 and 31).
Both measures would reduce congestion and speed up the flow of traffic across the river.
Cllr Kent said: “Over the past few years things have changed, the government dropped Options B and D for example without fully explaining why,
“The fact the free-flow tolls are now working has highlighted how we were right to call for it to be done sooner. On average it is nine minutes faster to cross into Kent and four minutes faster coming back.
“In addition the London authorities are looking at creating two or three new Thames crossings east of Tower Bridge including one from Rainham to Belvedere which would undoubtedly impact on traffic flows in and around Thurrock.
“As time marched on we believe other conditions have changed too. The dropping of Option D – to Canvey – was made too quickly yet the government will not listen to us and reinvestigate that proposal, linking the M2 with the A130 and the A12, by-passing the Dartford crossing entirely and making the Thames crossing more resilient; as well as opening up all of south Essex and Thurrock to investment opportunities.”
He added: “Monday was a superb opportunity for us to make our case in public and in a place where we will be listened to. I would like to thank all of the transport and planning team who put together our evidence along with everyone who came to our public meetings, everyone who has signed a petition and everyone who has supported this cause.
“It’s not over yet and we must not drop our guard, but I believe Monday afternoon may prove an important milestone in our argument.”