Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Thurrock Councillors unite to grill Highways England

THE POLITICIANS of Thurrock united as one to grill the bosses of Highways England at the civic offices on Tuesday night.

One by one they produced cogent, lucid arguments that were full of passion but also common sense that all came to one conclusion: There should not and must not be a new crossing in Thurrock.

The emergency meeting of the Planning and Transportation Committee started with a presentation by Highways England’s Senior project manager, Martin Potts.

The first councillor to speak was deputy chair of the committee, cllr Martin Kerin who told Highways England to remember: "This (Thurrock) is our home. This is where we live, this is where we are bringing up our children and I don’t quite think you realise how devastating this will be."

Both Orsett councillor Sue Little and Tilbury councillor Lynn Worrall pointed to the lack of consultation materials.

Cllr Worrall said: "We are doing your work for you. We are knocking on doors, meeting in libraries.

"There is a fitted day wait for key documents. That is outrageous. You have to extend the period for consultation.

Cllr Little detailed how life would change forever in her ward that covers Orsett, Bulphan and Horndon-on-the-Hill.

Cllr Little said: "From the monstrosity of a spaghetti junction you are planning in Orsett to the heath of badgers and hedgehogs, you are aiming to destroy our very way of life.

UKIP councillor and MEP, Tim Saker called for a referendum. Cllr Aker said “In 2014 I called on Thurrock Council to hold a referendum on the same day as the General Election when everyone is already voting. We could have had a response from 66% of people in Thurrock which would have improved our position in the consultation.

“I am again repeating these calls for the upcoming local elections. Although not every ward is voting all will be open for the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections, this will mean only a minor extra cost and amount of time will be used.

“It is important we get as many people as possible into this consultation and I call on the Council to take urgent action to make sure this happens.”

The final comment was an Open Statement from South Basildon and East Thurrock MP, Stephen Metcalfe, which (in his absence) was read out by chair of the committee, cllr Brian Little (Cons).

Mr Metcalfe said: "I want to re-iterate I remain opposed in principle to all options for a new lower Thames crossing in Thurrock."

The meeting was concluded by the Director of Planning at Thurrock Council, Mr David Bull who suggested a route map of future actions by the council to which the committee agreed.


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