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The future of the LTC Task Force

Members of the TCAG admin team recently learnt that an item on the agenda for Thurrock Council’s 13th February 2024 General Services meeting related to the future of the LTC Task Force, or more specifically the proposal to close it.

This was the first we had heard of it, and we were very disappointed that it had not been discussed with the LTC Task Force committee prior to this proposal being made.  We emailed all Thurrock Councillors to voice our concerns, and ask them to reconsider the proposed closure.

General Services meeting (13 Feb 2024)

The General Services meeting focused largely on the future of the LTC Task Force within agenda item 5.

After much discussion the committee reached the conclusion that the decision on closing LTC Task Force would be deferred until the new Place Overview & Scrutiny Committee is formed in the new municipal year, and options are considered.

Whilst this leaves the LTC Task Force operational, for now at least, which is a better outcome than what was being proposed, there is still a  level of uncertainty of the shape and form, and/or future of the LTC Task Force moving forward.

That said we appreciate that the proposal to close LTC Task Force was reconsidered and deferred following our email to all Thurrock Councillors.  We also appreciate the comments made recognising the importance and work of the LTC Task Force committee and inclusion of TCAG and residents rep.

Since watching the meeting we have emailed General Services committee members to thank them, and also raise a number of points following on from the meeting.  We will report further, as necessary, as things progress.

We have also emailed our fellow LTC Task Force members to call for a meeting before the end of the municipal year so that the future of the LTC Force can be discussed by us all as a committee, including co-opted members like TCAG.  Again we will update as things progress.

There appear to be a number of possibly options moving forward, and we intend on learning as much as we can about the options, and voicing our opinion moving forward.


Why LTC Task Force is important

The LTC Task Force was formed in Sept 2017, and followed members of TCAG being ejected from a Thurrock full council meeting in July 2017, due to poor communications between the public and the council in regard to the proposed LTC.  The formation of the LTC Task Force set new precedent for regular meetings between Thurrock Council, National Highways, and including TCAG, a residents rep, and two business reps.

The committee members have changed over the years, but a member of TCAG on the committee, as a co-opted member has been continuous throughout.  We’re pleased to report that communications have improved over the years too!  As we always say, together we are stronger!

The purpose of the committee is “To discuss and make recommendations in relation to environmental, economic and social aspects of the Lower Thames Crossing (LTC)”.

Whilst LTC Task Force meetings had been paused at the January meeting, until such time as a Government announcement is made, or anything else warrants having a meeting, the pause was not due to the proposed closure of the LTC Task Force.  The fact is we didn’t even know about the proposed closure at that time.

The Planning Inspectorate have until 20th March to submit their recommendation report to the Secretary of State for Transport, who then has until 20th June 2024 to make an announcement.

It is highly anticipated that once it reaches Secretary of State stage there is likely to be further post examination consultation, due to the amount of outstanding issues at the end of the LTC DCO Examination.  These post examination consultations have started to become more frequent in recent times.  The A66 scheme (a Project Speed scheme – one that Government are trying to push through as quickly as possible) is currently on their 8th or 9th post examination consultation.

Those who took part in the LTC DCO Examination will be invited to take part in any post examination consultation, including Local Authorities like Thurrock.

So whilst an announcement has to be made by the Secretary of State by 20th June 2024, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be an announcement on whether the proposed LTC will go ahead or not, such an announcement could be delayed due to further consultations.  The looming General Election could also lead to the decision being delayed, we just don’t know.  And even when a decision is announced there will be a 6 week window for potential legal challenges.

The LTC Task Force is therefore far from redundant, and there could still be so much more to deal with.  It is essential that the work so far is not lost, and that the level of knowledge and experience that the LTC Task Force have is not lost or wasted, including keeping co-opted members as part of the process.  This is particularly relevant as National Highways funding of the council’s LTC team ended when the LTC DCO examination ended, so LTC Task Force committee members knowledge and experience really is important.

With the various ways the LTC Task Force could potentially move forward, what we all need to do now is work out how that best happens.  Watch this space!



LTC Task Force Meetingsclick here

Thurrock Nub News – Plans to close down LTC Task Force (Feb 2024) – click here