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30 July 2015, 12:15
The Leader of Thurrock Council is calling on the government for clarity over its plans for a fourth Lower Thames Crossing.
Cllr John Kent said: "It's now a year since the government said they would make a decision within 12 months - Option A or Option C - and yet we, and local people, are still in limbo.
"During the General Election campaign they announced the crossing would certainly be coming through Thurrock, but we are still none the wiser.
"I am starting to wonder whether it will happen at all as, in PR terms, I am sure the government would love to announce a load of £500 million road schemes rather than one big crossing costs billions.
"Although that might be welcome, until the government actually makes up its mind we are still left hanging. We don't know whether we're going to have to fight Option A or Option C - or none; many of our homes are still blighted by the possibility of a new motorway nearby; and our businesses and potential investors don't know where to put their money.
"What might be an even better idea in these times of government austerity, is that the government takes just one per cent of that £3 to £4 billion - £30 to 40 million - and gives it to Thurrock to use on improving public transport in the area. If they did the same south of the river too I'm sure we could co-operate with an improved, properly integrated and affordable public transport system there too."
He said: "We have always said 'none of the above' to the government's proposed options, we don't think a new crossing is needed, and certainly not in Thurrock - we've got two tunnels and a bridge … that's enough.
"I can see the logic of an outer ring road, or a crossing to the east, and we know London Transport is pushing forward its plans for more crossings to the west, but so long as the government's final decision is still up in the air, we have to spend time and money - that's time and money we can't really spare - preparing.
"We have to prepare to fight against each option and we have to prepare so that if the government ignores local people's views and forces through their proposals, we can ensure the damage done is mitigated as far as humanly possible.
"This sort of thing can't be conjured out of thin air, we have to have plans for four possible outcomes at least.
"Both of our MPs have agreed with us that Thurrock is not the right place for another crossing and I would urge them to use their influence with ministers to speed things along and to get the right result."