PEOPLE are being urged to come along to the Orsett Hall on the evening of Monday, 25 January, for the first of two public meetings to discuss the latest proposals for the Lower Thames Crossing in Thurrock.
And Thurrock Council’s Planning, Transport and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee is also planning a special meeting about the crossing early in February.
The Orsett Hall meeting will again by chaired by BBC Essex’s Breakfast host James Whale and although details of Highways England’s proposals are still sparse, Council Leader Cllr John Kent says: “It is important we don’t let up the pressure.”
He added: “We are expecting the government – in the form of Highways England – to announce their latest proposals in the next few days. We anticipate they’ll be talking of one option close to the current crossing and three further to the east.
“We think they will have as single proposal for a crossing to the east of Gravesend and Tilbury, but then their options are to link with the Dock Approach Road or A13, to join the M25 between Junctions 30 and 29, or to parallel the A128 to the A127 and join the motorway at Junction 29.
“For those of us living and working here, all three easterly options will be a recipe for chaos and the one between Dartford and West Thurrock would be no better.”
Cllr Kent said: “As far as I am aware the transport decision-makers don’t know whether they want a tunnel of a bridge and they don’t know where they want the crossing to go. All they do seemed convinced about is that it has to go through Thurrock.”
He added: “Because of this indecision – this will be the third national consultation on the proposal and still no detail on the route – it means Thurrock Council has to fight on a wide front.
“People living in Purfleet, West Thurrock and Ockendon can concentrate their anger on one proposal and those from Tilbury, Chadwell, Orsett, Bulphan, and the villages around, can prepare to fight their corner too.
“But the council has to combat all the options and – on top of that – we have to be fully prepared if the government decides to over-rule our wishes; we have to be ready to fight for Thurrock’s future and to say: if you’re going to ignore us, if you’re going to ride roughshod over local opinion, then we want the best possible deal. It’s not something we want to do, but it is, unfortunately, something we have to be prepared for.”
Cllr Kent said: “The council itself has unanimously voted for no new crossings in the borough, now we need local people to show they support our stand.
“The more noise we make, the more pressure we put on Westminster and Whitehall the better our chances of not having to fight for that least-worst scenario.”