A UNITED Thurrock Council has agreed to send a detailed response to Highways England over its plans for a Thames crossing in the borough.
Councillors from across the chamber will also have signed a letter to go with the council’s response before the consultation closed on Thursday (24 March) evening.
Introducing a debate on the issue, Leader of the Council, Cllr John Kent thanked George Abbott for his and the No Campaign’s efforts, saying he was “proud” of their tireless work against the proposals.
He also criticised Highways England’s “muddled” consultation, saying: “How can an organisation that can’t organise a litter-pick be expected to organise a Â£6 billion road consultation? It reminds me of parties and beer-making facilities.”
He said: “We have in front of us tonight 17 well-reasoned and easily understandable arguments against the government proposals.
“Old and out of date traffic movement data, none of the Option C routes will end congestion when there’s an incident, and gridlock – which will continue – will increase pollution in an already polluted area.
“The environmental damage has not been properly assessed or quantified, the reduction in traffic at the existing crossing is predicted to be just seven per cent by 2041, that doesn’t meet the main objective of the scheme which is – and I quote – to relieve the congested Dartford Crossing and approach roads.”
He said no “thought had been given to encouraging alternative modes of travel, for example more goods being moved by rail” and described the consultation as “a mess, a muddle and an expensive disaster waiting to happen”.
Cllr Kent explained how Thurrock Council had been fighting government proposals for a new Thames crossing in the borough since 2010; ran a campaign None of the Above against Options A, B, and C; held public meetings and Ockendon in 2014.
He said this year “we organised public meetings in Orsett, and initially in Ockendon for January and February”.
And he added: “Just 12 hours after the Orsett meeting Highways England announced their consultation and that Option A was dead.
“The presumed death of Option A and the fact Highways England started frightening everyone and telling 300 Thurrock residents their homes were under threat meant we switched the second meeting to Tilbury and the Cruise Terminal.
“Around a thousand people were there to make their feelings known and by then Option A was back on the table.
“Highways England were unable to explain that properly to anyone and they still haven’t.
“In fact Highways England’s inability to do anything properly has been a hallmark of the whole consultation process.
“They somehow didn’t expect local people to object and come along to their own meetings and so consistently ran out of materials.
“They said Option A was dead but then had to defend a government minister putting it back into the mix.
“They said our objections weren’t based on their information, but didn’t share their information with us.”
He said Thurrock’s three political party leaders – himself, Cllr Rob Gledhill and Cllr Graham Snell had written to the Secretary of State for Transport twice in February, but had not received a reply, and earlier in March he had written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Cllr Kent said: “Ignoring letters from me, ignoring letters from a local council is not just a slur and slight to us, it shows the contempt those in power nationally have for the people of this borough.
“They’ve all wriggled, they’ve all squirmed and then, basically kept on with the same old same old!”