MEMBERS across the chamber at Full Council last night (Wednesday 26 July 2017) reaffirmed their united opposition to a new Lower Thames Crossing in the borough.
Following the announcement by Highways England of the preferred route in April 2017, two weeks before the General Election was called, the Council debated how to continue its confirmed opposition to the LTC whilst not losing the ability to fight the impact on the borough if the scheme progresses.
Leader of the Council and the Conservative Group, Cllr Rob Gledhill spoke after the meeting. He said: “It is right that we have agreed on a way forward as a united chamber of members
“We clearly still remain totally opposed to any new crossing. We must now look to continue our opposition through use of evidence, data, challenge, and scrutiny; We must continue influencing where ever we can how any scheme progresses along with any decisions being made by Highways England. It is vital that the voices of our residents who will be so affected by any new Crossing continue to be sought and listened to by Highways England.
“I’m pleased to accept the amended recommendation put forward tonight by colleagues – setting up a Lower Thames Task Force, constituted of members from across the political parties of Thurrock, which will ensure there is total focus and priority given to influencing what happens in our borough and how we ensure the voices of our residents rightly impact on the outcomes.
““In addition, I will be writing to all residents of the borough to further seek all their views on the crossing issue. The questions will not be ambiguous or weighted to only one outcome but will help form our response to Highways England.”
Leader of the opposition and UKIP Group Leader, Cllr Graham Snell said: “I fully support the unity of views on this issue and our continued opposition to a new LTC in Thurrock.
“We must all as councillors speak strongly on behalf of our residents and be their voice and conscience – loudly and relentlessly as each and every decision regarding the crossing is rigorously scrutinised.
“I particularly welcome the announcement that all residents will be written to by the local authority to seek their views on the crossing. We know that a large number of responses were discounted by Highways England during the initial consultation and this piece of work will help inform our work going forward.”
Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Oliver Gerrish said: “I welcome the cross-party support of the amendment to set up a dedicated Lower Thames Crossing Scrutiny Committee and the suggestion that it should include members of the public.
“By setting up this committee, residents will have seats around the table themselves, and will be able to more fully input into council discussions. It is crucial that together we continue to fight these plans at all levels.”