Questions raised over jobs bonus from Lower Thames Crossing

THE number of jobs Thurrock will benefit from during the Lower Thames Crossing construction is unclear a consultant has claimed.

If given the go ahead the £8.2 billion project will see the construction of the two 2.5mile tunnels under the Thames will connect Kent and Thurrock and provide an alternative route for Dartford Crossing and Blackwall Tunnel.

Chris Stratford, a senior consultant advising Thurrock Council’s Lower Thames Crossing Taskforce gave an update to councillors on Monday.

Talking to councillors regarding the scheme’s skills education employment strategy, Mr Stratford said: “They didn’t have enough pace and urgency behind developing the strategy to the current state and the targets set within it are just not ambitious enough. They have claimed there are up to 22,000 anticipated job spanning many years and yet there’s a target of 437 apprentices, only some of which would be from Thurrock.

“Basically there’s no provision within the strategy to channel labour market benefits to Thurrock. There have been a lot of things in the press about the supply chain and they have been doing a lot to try and get Thurrock-based companies involved in trying to bid for work as part of the eventual construction.”

However, Mr Stratford added: “We’ve also asked for a series of additional resources for the team within Thurrock Council itself and a team of six Thurrock-based posts to try and extract as much as possible from the project once it starts assuming it starts.

“So far they are only suggesting a team of five, only one of which covers the northern area. The northern area, bear in mind, is about 80 per cent of the route so what are the other four are doing? Also we had a proposal for some small grant schemes to support local businesses and that seems to have not materialised.”

Sara Muldowney, Labour councillor for Chadwell St Mary, said: “It’s interesting to see the difference between the headlines from National Highways. It’s going to be about 20,000 jobs and it’s going to be all singing and dancing and then to see actually what they are prepared to commit to which isn’t anything specifically for Thurrock.”

Councillors also heard many of the estimated 20,000 or so jobs were among the supply chain and the actual number of construction workers is likely to be 2,500 at most. Jobs created in building the tunnelling machine were likely to be in Germany.

Matt Palmer, Executive Director for Lower Thames Crossing, said: “Over the lifetime of its construction, it will support over 22,000 jobs, including 10,000 during the peak year of construction alone. This is a robust figure based on industry benchmarking. It will provide new job, training and upskilling opportunities for local people, with hundreds of apprenticeships, graduateships and traineeships, not forgetting free support, training and work for local businesses. More than 500 businesses have already signed up to our SME Directory and local firms have taken up hundreds of hours of free training.

“We’re committed to ensuring our local communities benefit from the project, especially with new skills, education and employment. We are working closely with Local Authority Skills and Employment teams, including at Thurrock Council, to ensure that we can collectively make the most of the huge jobs and skills opportunities that the Lower Thames Crossing offers.”

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