Council Leaders outraged at crossing announcement
“It is an outrage” – said all three Council Leaders in Thurrock today (12 April) after Government finally announced their plans for a new Lower Thames Crossing after keeping residents in the dark for months.
Leader of the Conservative group and Thurrock Council, Cllr Rob Gledhill, said: “Despite our requests for meaningful engagement prior to any announcement, we see Highways England ploughing on regardless – announcing the next route before my scheduled telephone call with them at 10am this morning. This seems to be par for course.
“But we have to ask – where are the consultation results from the first round they promised to send us? Where are the replies to the e-mails and letters we have sent Highways England sharing our concerns?
“Where is the information on air quality and congestion we have asked for? Indeed, where is our reply to the 17 objections we presented them with more than a year ago? Residents across the borough are going to be affected by this and it appears Highways England just simply don’t care.
“If we are going to put forward a further well-informed and factually accurate response outlining the impact on Thurrock, we need the information we’ve requested and been promised – all of which remains undelivered.
“It is hardly a level playing field while they refuse to stick to their own schedule and fail to share any of the information this decision is based on with us.
“Although we have been looking at all the routes, this announcement will mean we can try and unpick some of the detail, but as feared, this option– which Highways England described as ‘would impact local ecological and heritage sites’ appears to be their favoured choice – is truly the worst choice out of a terrible bunch.
“We will keep residents fully informed on the next steps as and when we know them.
“What more can I say – I have been continually outraged and disappointed at every stage of this process, it is obviously the wrong decision for Thurrock and we continue with our objections to this flawed plan.
“Furthermore, I would respectfully request the Secretary of State for a meeting to outline how this decision was made, as Highways England appear to have ignored Thurrock residents.”
Leader of the Thurrock UKIP group, Cllr Graham Snell agreed, saying: “I am extremely disappointed to hear the announcement but it does enable us to start the next round of fighting for Thurrock.”
“We have all been waiting for Highways England to make the announcement – any announcement – for months but as always, they work to their own schedule regardless of how many people are in limbo waiting to know if a new crossing is going to destroy their homes and communities.
“I had a small hope that they would have come to their senses and relook at the information presented rather than push this fundamentally flawed proposal.”
Leader of the Thurrock Labour group, Cllr John Kent, said: “Now is the time for Thurrock – its people, it’s businesses, and its council – to come together and fight as one.
“We don’t want our green belt destroyed and we don’t want our homes destroyed.
“We don’t want an ill-thought through scheme thrust upon us and the country as a whole.
“And most of all, we don’t want the queues, congestion, and pollution shifted five miles downstream as a new motorway cuts our borough in half.”