THURROCK Council Leader Cllr John Kent has written to Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin about delays in releasing Highways England’s latest Lower Thames Crossing proposals.
In his letter Cllr Kent expresses concern that delaying the national consultation any further will mean it will run into the pre-election “purdah” period when the council is restricted about what it can say.
Speaking on Tuesday, 19 January, Cllr Kent said: “Thurrock councillors have unanimously agreed we do not want to see a fourth Thames crossing in our borough and Highways England had indicated their intention to publish their latest plans in the first of second week of January.
“The fact that they haven’t done this worries me.”
He added: “Highways England has prepared the way. They had made presentations to council officers, they had filmed in Grays High Street seeking local people’s views, they had started liaising with our libraries to hold exhibitions, and they had even filmed me.
“Now they’ve gone awfully quiet, but I do not believe we have won the argument yet.
“We organised our two public meetings – at Orsett Hall on Monday 25 January and at the Culver Centre on Thursday, 25 February – to raise awareness of the issues and our meetings will go on as scheduled.
“The people of Thurrock need to be fully prepared to make their views known whenever the decision to launch the consultation is made and if that happens to be in late March and April before May’s local elections, then so be it.
“This is why it is all the more important that people come along to the public meetings, hear what information we have to share and then pass it on to their friends and neighbours.
“No matter what route is proposed in Thurrock, any new crossing here will affect every man, woman, and child – whether that’s through increased pollution, increased congestion, or the destruction of our heritage and green belt.”
Monday (25 January) evening’s public meeting at Orsett Hall starts promptly at 7pm with the doors opening half an hour earlier.
Conservative Leader Rob Gledhill said “All parties at Thurrock Council have twice voted unanimously against having another Thames crossing in the borough. The threat associated to our green belt, our health and heritage must be robustly rejected and we will keep up the pressure on the Highways Agency and Government to look for alternatives.”
And Cllr Snell – leader of the UKIP group on the council – said: “This is an issue of huge importance to Thurrock. All three political parties have come together in the fight against the increased congestion and air pollution another crossing in our borough would bring.”
Thurrock Council will explain what it believes to be Highways England’s plans, including one crossing – now called Option 1 – close to the current tunnels and bridge.
Options 2, 3, and 4 all cross the river to the east of Tilbury and Gravesend and then link up to the A1089 (Dock Approach Road), the A13 or the A127 before directing traffic to or from the M25.