New Thames Crossing: Leaders slam "cavalier attitude" of Highways Agency

THE leaders of Thurrock’s three major political parties have written to Highways England complaining at its cavalier attitude towards local people and the council over their Lower Thames Crossing proposals.

Leader of the Labour group and the council, Cllr John Kent, Conservative Leader, Cllr Rob Gledhill, and Leader of UKIP, Cllr Graham Snell, wrote to Martin Potts who is leading on the project for Highways England.

In the letter they “unanimously object” to Highways England’s “insensitive letter to residents, landowners and businesses informing them they may be directly affected” by the plans.

It adds: “Our complaint is your apparent complete disregard for the impact your surprise letter has had on residents in the Borough at such an early stage in the current consultation process. Letters have gone to all residents on or near the three route options and therefore prematurely alarmed residents whose home may never be needed for your scheme.”

Cllr Kent said on Friday (29 January): “There are numerous issues that have sprung up since Tuesday’s announcement by Highways England. One of the most worrying is people wondering why the council continued granting planning permission for homes which are now on the proposed routes and under threat.

“The answer is that we had no choice, planning as a heavily regulated legal process.

“We did not know the route and even now all we have is three very wide lines through the borough. Highways England has not shown us their detailed workings, they did not share with us that they were going to send out hundreds of letters, and they still haven’t told us who those letters have gone to.

“As this is still at the non-statutory consultation stage and as there are still three official options – although there is a preferred one – we will still have to grant planning permissions along the route if applications are made.

“The difference now is that we can add a rider explaining Highways England’s intentions as best as we can.”

He added: “What I can say now that the phoney war is over and we know what we’re battling against is that Thurrock Council will stand with everyone who is affected by this.

“We will, of course, allow Highways England to try and explain their reasoning and their processes, but we will also help local people and help make sure they are fully aware of Highways England’s proposals and support them as best we can through that process.”

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