Council Leader Calls For Bridge Inquiry To Be Re-Opened

The Leader of Bexley Council, Cllr Ian Clement, has called for the re-opening of the public inquiry into the Thames Gateway Bridge in the light of Government plans to increase tolls for the Dartford crossings. Bexley Conservatives have been unanimous in their opposition to the project, listening to the views of local residents and campaigners.

“The proposed 50% increase in the Dartford tolls could significantly affect traffic levels on the Thames Gateway Bridge and its environmental impact, especially in Bexley,” explains Cllr Clement. “That’s why I have written to Ruth Kelly, the Secretary for State for Communities and Local Government, to ask that extra work is done to assess the impact of the tolls before she makes a decision on the proposal.”

“I have asked that the transport modelling is recalculated, the impact of the tolls re-assessed and for people to be given the opportunity to resubmit their evidence.”The differential tolls proposed for the Thames Gateway Bridge were the most significant of the mechanisms put forward at the original inquiry to control traffic using the bridge. A discount was proposed for local residents, along with a relatively high toll designed to limit the volume of non-local traffic.The effect of the tolls was so important that Transport for London drastically reduced the size of the discount area during the inquiry to reduce projected traffic levels on the local road network in Bexley.

“It’s clear from the original inquiry that relative tolls levels are a key factor in influencing the environmental impact of the bridge,” says Cllr Clement. “The Secretary of State needs to announce that the inquiry will be reconvened soon, or there is a risk that a decision will be made which has potentially disastrous consequences for people and businesses in the north of the borough.”

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