Thames Crossing Action Group remain politically neutral. However, in the run up to the general election we thought it might be helpful to know the views of the election candidates on LTC. As we represent candidates along the entire route we have listed the constituencies South to North, and also included Dartford since the Dartford Crossing will remain over capacity even if LTC goes ahead, so we’ll all still suffer from the same crossing, congestion, pollution issues.
Obviously we appreciate you will be making your voting decision on probably more than just the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, but here are the candidates views on LTC for those that are interested!
Sacha Gosine – Labour
After another week in which Dartford became gridlocked as a result of congestion around the Dartford Tunnel, Labour candidate Sacha Gosine has asked why revenue from the crossing isn’t being used to ease the problem.
He said: “Earlier this year we saw moves by the Department of Transport to make the crossing tolls permanent, even though the construction costs for the crossing were recovered years ago. They claim the tolls are necessary to ‘manage traffic demand’. All the revenue from tolls goes to the company operating the crossing, and to whichever company takes over from them when the contract is up.
We know the answer is another crossing to add capacity and provide an alternative route when there are problems. But right now, Dartford needs some radical solutions to manage the impact on the town, when the crossing grinds to a halt. People I speak to on the doorstep, and who post on social media, are telling me that this is a crisis, not just a nuisance, with property prices suffering and many saying they want to escape from the area.
When Dartford becomes gridlocked, as it did again last week, everyone suffers. Businesses and schools can’t operate properly, those people already isolated in their own homes through old age or disability can’t get the services they need. Many people are genuinely frightened about what would happen if they needed an ambulance, or if there was a fire, when they see near static traffic outside their door for hours on end.
Parts of Dartford already have some of the worst air pollution in the country. What happens when you add to this, thousands of vehicles with engines idling – not just on the M25 but also the surrounding road network.
Why, for example, can’t some of the revenue from the crossing be invested in measures to unlock Dartford’s road systems when the M25 is at a halt? We can’t wait for the new crossing to solve these problems.
But the other question is, “Who is fighting Dartford’s corner, in the face of problems caused by national infrastructure and transport?”. Gareth Johnson has been our MP for almost a decade and doesn’t seem to have made any impression on the problem. In fact, when Ebbsfleet was proposed as a customs checking site in the event of a no-deal Brexit, holding hundreds of lorries, it was left to the leader of the Borough Council, Johnson’s Conservative colleague Jeremy Kite, to raise objections stating – and these are his own words – “(congestion) is part of our daily lives already and frankly we are on a hair trigger”. Johnson seems less concerned, bar the necessary lip service, presumably because his priorities and ambitions lie within his party, rather than with the town he represents.
For these reason I would not be in favour of a second crossing being placed in Dartford.
Gareth Johnson – Conservative – Did not respond
Mark Lindop – Green Party
My reply is that I am against the Lower Thames Crossing. Simple reasons are that we should all try and lower the number of car journeys we make, and better public transport should be looked at.
Kyle Marsh – Liberal Democrats
You’ll no doubt already be aware that my Liberal Democrat colleagues from Essex oppose the proposed crossing Option C just over a year ago. I echo their statements.
Based on the best current information I have available, my view is that all of the proposals:
– will increase toxic air pollution both north and south of the river
– will reduce the amount of green space, including green belt land
– will increase light and noise pollution
– will not solve the traffic problems which plague Dartford
– will increase traffic and congestion in the area
I don’t believe the purported economic benefits will outweigh these considerations.
I would be much more interested in seeing environmentally-considerate, sustainable solutions to the need to move people across the river, while reducing air pollution caused by traffic.
I pride myself on having an open mind, and I would be grateful to receive any thoughts your group would like to share, whether they align with my statements here or not.
Adam Holloway – Conservative
“Of course, the first meeting locally to oppose the stupid crossing to the east of Gravesend was held in my house in Darley Road way back in 2006. For years we fought with the Department for Transport to remind them that the new crossing is designed to relieve traffic at Dartford, because the M25 runs and will run through Dartford. Therefore the solution was always a second south-north bridge at Dartford – or better a very long tunnel to take the long range traffic off the existing bridge and tunnels.
When the Kent and Essex County Councils realised that there was all this money available for a crossing, and that the Department for Transport had been considering a crossing to the east of Gravesend, they leapt on the idea for economic development purposes. So around five years ago this moved from being a transport project to relieve the appalling congestion at Dartford and became for Kent and Essex an opportunity for economic development.
And so we’ve ended up here. This new crossing is awful for the people to the east of Gravesend, and for the villages that will connect road users to the tunnel. The Lower Thames Crossing Association and I have managed to persuade the Department of Transport to run the tunnel longer, and to increase the depth of cuttings. So I’m delighted that these efforts to mitigate the very serious future effects on local residents are continuing.
As I see it, the issues now include, maximisation of the length of the tunnel and cut and cover, and getting the A229 upgraded to FreeFlo to minimise traffic coming through villages through the southern approaches to the tunnel. We also have no idea yet of the plans for the land immediately next to the road or the northern mitigations for residents of Riverview Park and Thong. Heaven knows what the plans are to provide rat runs through the villages, and we need to stay massively on top of potential disruption in the building of this monster. Not to mention making sure that local people actually get some jobs out of this.”
Lauren Sullivan – Labour Party
As a Gravesham Councillor I voted against The Lower Thames Crossing and for putting aside £100,000 of the Gravesham budget for challenging the decision at a higher court.
I have been firm in my position that I am against the Lower Thames Crossing on an number of points, including the destruction of Shorne and Ashenbank woods (site of special scientific interest), increased air pollution for those living close by and increase noise. I worry about the impact on the Environment and our community and I will do all that I can to prevent or to reduce the impact of a Thames crossing in Gravesham.
A Labour Government would invest in public transport and giving local Government more control over local plans.
I am strongly committed to building and investing in a stronger, sustainable and green rail and bus system to reduce the need for cars on our roads.
Marna Gilligan – Green Party
I’m completely against the Lower Thames Crossing. Not just the Option C, but any of the originally-proposed crossings. We’re facing a climate crisis; new roads won’t help with this at all, and we need to look at all major infrastructure projects with this in mind.
I know that the existing Dartford crossing is running over capacity and that the air pollution in Dartford is dangerously high, but I don’t believe that the solution is to build another road – and I don’t think that the crossing will solve the congestion problems in Dartford. I’d rather see more creative and sustainable solutions to the problem; moving freight off the roads and onto rail or water, a reliable, fast and interconnected public transport system (I love the Kenex tram plans), variable crossing charges that reward cars full of passengers. There are so many ways to solve this problem that don’t involve building new roads.
I’ll be making the case against the crossing during this election campaign – and if there’s anything that I can do to help with your campaign please get in touch.
Ukonu Elisha Obasi – Liberal Democrats – Did not respond
South Basildon & East Thurrock
Michael Bukola – Liberal Democrats
The Liberal Democrats are against the development of the Lower Thames Crossing.
As long-suffering residents who are experiencing dangerous levels of traffic pollution affecting air quality across Thurrock, we call for faster and greener public transport across the Thames. The proposed Lower Thames Crossing is merely a short term solution which will continue to encourage unlimited pollution from road traffic and would reduce Dartford crossing traffic by just 16 % overall. Instead we urgently need a more effective public transport system to improve the health and well-being of all in Thurrock.”
Jack Ferguson – Labour
Whilst I understand the challenge that has been identified the current proposals put forward are inappropriate.
The current proposals will destroy homes and divide communities whilst adding significantly to the challenges of air quality. With the increased likelihood of a congestion charge on the A127 this will every affect alternative routes adding to the challenge.
This is one of the most significant decisions for the area in a generation. They are shortsighted in that they do not include the options for alternatives such as rail or cycle routes either.
If elected, one of the first actions I will undertake will be to write to the Secretary of State for Transport and ask them to think again. It is time that we listened to the residents and said no to the current proposals for a Lower Thames Crossing.
Stephen Metcalfe – Conservative
Stephen remains strongly opposed to the proposed Lower Thames Crossing. If looking to solve the traffic issues at the Dartford Crossing he believes that Option A14 would be the best option. If looking at economic growth then a new crossing further east would be the best option. Stephen doesn’t support any of the Option C routes, as they will not solve the problems suffered due to the Dartford Crossing. Stephen has worked alongside and assisted the Thames Crossing Action Group and residents in matters relating to the LTC, and remains happy to assist wherever he can.
Kerry Smith – Independent
I see no need to build this Option C river crossing when they are far better options which can include a new East London river crossing (Beckton to Bexley).
I have voted as an Essex County Councillor against a motion that is in support of this Option C, last year. Please see the link here and look at pages 10-11 of these minutes.
If I am duly elected as your new MP, I would do all within my power to stop this Option C river crossing.
We asked South Basildon & East Thurrock candidates a question on where they stand on the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, here’s a video of the question and their responses.
Jackie Doyle-Price – Conservative “As you will be aware Jackie does not support the route chosen for the Lower Thames Crossing and continues to make the case for route 4 as a better option.”
Ben Harvey – Green Party
A report by Highways England states that the lower Thames crossing will increase traffic volumes travelling through Thurrock by 24% by 2026 and 40% by 2041.
By adding more road capacity and providing no alternatives it will make an already dire traffic and pollution situation worse, further impacting air quality and contributing to emissions when they should be introducing measures to reduce them.
The Green Party would create alternative sustainable options such as rail, bus and cycling to cross the Thames and reduce motor traffic.
John Kent – Labour
“I have campaigned against the proposed new Lower Thames Crossing for the last decade.
I have done this not because I don’t think we need a new crossing – we need at least one new crossing east of London – but because the proposals we have been given are the wrong crossings in the wrong place.
The government’s preferred option – Option C – cuts a six lane highway through eight miles of our green belt, splitting our borough in two, destroying homes and damaging our – already poor – air quality.
It is an environmental and ecological disaster. It will hugely impact communities in East Tilbury, Orsett, Chadwell, Tilbury and Ockendon as the new six lane highway takes out homes and runs within yards of others.
Any new crossing must do something to ease the horrendous congestion we suffer here on all too regular a basis. It must add to the capacity of the local, regional and national road network – the government’s preferred option fails on all these counts.
I believe that alternative proposals have been discounted too quickly. Proposals such as option A14, a long tunnel that goes from M25 junction 2, in Kent, and coming up between junction 29 and 30 in Essex. This option actually improves air quality, reduces congestion and does the least damage to our environment.
As your MP I will fight to get this option back on the table and to get proper mitigation for those impacted by the final route.”
Stewart Stone – Liberal Democrats
“If the Lib Dems win the election, we will cancel the proposed Lower Thames Crossing. However, the appalling air quality in the south western corner of Thurrock does have to be dealt with.
In broader terms, we will enact a legal right to unpolluted air. To deliver on this, we will ensure that by 2030, every new car sold is electric, support innovation in zero-emission technologies, and reduce the climate impact of flying”
James Woollard – Independent
“Thurrock has one of the highest pollution figures in the entire country and yet we see the push for a second Dartford crossing in this borough (http://www.thurrockindependent.com/2018/05/02/thurrock-is-among-uks-worst-for-air-pollution/ ). Do we need another crossing? Yes we do. Does it need to be in Thurrock? No it doesn’t. Should we still be paying a toll for using the existing crossing? No we shouldn’t. We were promised multiple times that the toll would be removed once the crossing was paid for but it seems it’s too much of a ’cash cow’ so the promise is ignored.”
“Dartford Crossing:- Scrap the existing charge as promised countless times. Find a route for the new crossing outside of Thurrock to reduce pollution and congestion.”
Anybody who travels across the crossing daily will see the volume of traffic that goes across. You would also see what appears to be an artificial inflation of the traffic problems by the use of the Traffic Light system on the Tunnel approach. I can see the need for another crossing but I can not see any benefit from having it in Thurrock. We already have an extremely high level of pollution caused by the M25 and the crossing. We also suffer from massive congestion in Thurrock when anything happens on the crossing. The whole area quickly becomes gridlocked. I’m sure Dartford is suffering from the same things. My preferred solution would be to use a corridor from the A12/A130 with a tunnel system under Canvey across towards the Isle of Grain to eventually link with the A2/M2. With this route we get a direct link from Felixstowe – DP World London Gateway – Tilbury Docks – Peel Ports London Medway – Dover – Channel Tunnel. This solution would open possibilities for better roads into and out off Canvey. It would lower the toxic pollution levels in Thurrock and Dartford by spreading it out and making it easier for the environment to handle these pollutants. It would spread the traffic congestion and the impact of when things go wrong.
The final point is the Toll for using the crossing. So many times we were promised this charge would be scrapped. Yet we see it go on and on. They now claim that this Toll helps to control the traffic using the crossing. This is utter nonsense. You can only use a charge as a control method if there is a viable free or cheaper alternative. There isn’t. Do they really think that people use the crossing by choice? I don’t think anyone wakes up and thinks “ Lets have some fun and travel across the crossing”. No, People use it because they must. They have a captive customer base and are using it as the proverbial “Cash Cow” They are using private companies to manage the crossing and those companies are creaming off profits when the money should be going into improving conditions in Thurrock and Dartford area’s. What benefits do our boroughs see from it?
We asked Thurrock candidates a question on where they stand on the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, here’s a video of the question and their responses.
Hornchurch & Upminster
David Furness – British National Party – Did not respond
Julia Lopez – Conservative
“Julia has engaged extensively with the Lower Thames Crossing Team regarding the proposed development to ensure that those directly impacted are provided suitable mitigation from any long-term noise and visual disturbance from the development as well as disruption from construction. For those people that may be subject to blight or compulsory purchase, Julia has also lobbied that they receive a fair financial settlement as well as other support to move, reflective of the upheaval this would generate in their life.
The Thames Chase Community Forest would be significantly affected by the development and Julia has sought to build strong connections between the Forest and the project team so that they may receive appropriate mitigation, including potential land-swaps to enable them to continue in their excellent work of restoring former industrial landscapes. Julia brought the former Environment Secretary to view this work first hand in early 2018 and has lobbied the project team to ensure that the project complies with the ‘biodiversity net gain’ principle, so that the crossing may lead to environmental improvements, not just disruption.
In discussions with the project team, Julia has also pushed for mitigation offered to the community to include improvements to parks and green spaces in the wider North Ockendon/Upminster area and for potential remodelling of key junctions, such as Bell Corner.
Finally, to help ensure that the economical benefits of the project are realised locally, Julia has helped the project team to establish contact with local education providers so that students from the constituency may benefit from education and employment opportunities that construction would provide.” (Sent on her behalf by her office as she is currently on maternity leave)
Peter Caton – Green Party
As Green Party candidate for Hornchurch & Upminster I oppose construction of the Lower Thames Crossing, by any route.
I have attended consultations, made a personal submission and a submission on behalf on the Green Party, and had a letter published in the Romford Recorder opposing the crossing. I have also spoken with Julia Lopez MP and suggested that the crossing should not be built.
The crossing and access roads will result in loss of homes, Green Belt land and part of Thames Chase Nature Reserve but will be of questionable effectiveness in relieving both congestion and air pollution. With urgent need to tackle climate change we should not be building more roads.
Upminster where I live and North Ockendon which is in the Hornchurch & Upminster constituency, will be affected by increased noise, air pollution and loss of our countryside. I am not convinced that the new crossing will reduce traffic in Thurrock where I work and believe that congestion when the bridge is occasionally closed could be relieved by better traffic management such as keeping roundabouts clear and reducing the time for which the police close the crossing after an accident.
If the crossing us built it should not follow Option C and longer tunnels close to the current crossing should be considered.
If elected I would seek a review of the Government’s decision to construct the Lower Thames Crossing and the selection of Option C. A review must ensure that all factors are fully considered, including switching of freight to rail and improved road layouts and traffic management either side of the existing crossing. It needs to be based on up to date traffic data and include Option A14, a tunnel from junction 30, an option that was not put to the public in the consultation. The review must be made based on the need to reduce not increase traffic as we attempt to counter climate change.
Tele Lawal – Labour Party – Did not respond
Thomas Patrick Clarke – Liberal Democrats
I worry about the Lower Thames Crossing’s impact on green belt land – most of the proposed routes will destroy homes and ancient forests, increase air and noise pollution, and also have a major impact on many communities. I support more jobs and a stronger economy but not at this price to the environment and people’s lives.
We did message each party for an official response as to where they stand in relation to the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, mainly through their official website contact forms. To date we are yet to receive a single response from a party! Again if you are an official from one of the parties and wish to provide an official statement as to where your party stands with regards to LTC please get in touch! Thanks.
We hope this info is useful to learn the latest from the election candidates on LTC in your area!