Lower Thames Crossing: Council urges rethink on resident discount decision
- Credit: Highways England
Politicians have reiterated calls for a Havering resident discount on the proposed Lower Thames Crossing.
The scheme - a three-lane dual carriageway to connect the M25 near North Ockendon to the M2 near Rochester - has been in the offing since 2017, and would form Britain’s biggest road tunnel should it be completed.
Aiming to reduce traffic on both the M25 and Dartford Crossing, this project initially had the support of Havering Council until an alleged U-turn from Highways England.
Original proposals indicated that borough residents would benefit from discounted toll charges, before it became apparent that this concession would only apply to those living in Gravesham and Thurrock.
Council leader Cllr Damian White blasted Highway England's decision last August, threatening the withdraw the authority's support.
Fast forward 11 months and Cllr White has reiterated his request for parity: "We won’t sit idly by and look on as Highways England continue to betray our local residents.
"In our view there is no difference between us and the other councils in this area as each of them will host the crossing and be affected by it in similar ways."
The leader argued that discounted charges are the least Highway England can offer, considering "the significant impact" the scheme would have on residents.
Pointing to busier roads and potential consequences for air quality, he said a reduction would be proof that such factors have been considered.
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If the situation does not change, Havering Council will continue to snub the scheme: "We are a strong champion for new infrastructure and we want to support this new crossing.
"But we cannot play our part in a project that leaves Havering residents short changed.”
This is not the only contentious issue.
In November it was confirmed that Highways England had withdrawn its planning application for the crossing.
This prompted Cllr White to call for a new public consultation; he was critical of how the process was originally carried out.
Addressing this matter alongside making a fresh plea for resident discount, he credited the council's "aggressive lobbying" with prompting Highways England to run a more substantial consultation.
However, only "the promised and deserved local discount" will be enough to "earn back Havering Council's support", said Cllr White.
View the council's campaign at this petition: https://consultation.havering.gov.uk/communications/ltcrossing/