Cllr Rodney Bass had some strong words for campaigners in his response to a question posed by Cllr Walters at the Essex County Council meeting on 9th February. Needless to say I do not agree with his interpretation, but people should know what is being said up at County Hall. Here is a transcript of what was said:
Cllr Walters: Cllr Bass you will have seen lately that there are a lot of delays on the crossing between Kent and Essex. Particularly we have had problems with the wind, there have been accidents and despite the improvements in the tolling system there continues to be very lengthy delays. Could you update me on what is happening with a proposed new crossing because it seems to me that it is stalled
Cllr Bass: I most certainly can, I do welcome the question in that quite recently the government has published a further options paper. It has asked for responses to that consultation by the 24th of March and it is focusing as its preferred route on option C in the original proposals but providing three variants that that option C route could take on the Essex side of the crossing, and we will want to talk particularly to the Thurrock Council and Basildon and Brentwood as to which of those options presents a potential good solution that would be acceptable to all. If we can't agree that, then I will strongly commend the governments preferred option which is kind of going through the middle of that. It is the shortest route and it is the one that they say is the easiest to deliver. That will require a new junction on the M25, that particular option, and it will be a junction 29a midway between junction 29 and junction 30, but the fact that Cllr Walters' question is so relevant is that that consultation is now underway. We are having discussions with our transport boards. I think already there is strong evidence that like Kent County Council there is a very strong preference for option C. In fact option C is the only option in town that is seriously capable of being delivered and that will deliver the necessary economic growth. So we will work on that. We will also liaise very strongly with our colleagues from Kent County Council who share our view, and don't forget Essex and Kent way back in 2011 originally promoted the idea of an additional Lower Thames Crossing. It is very important that we do that and finesse it. I know my colleagues cllr Bentley will be very strong in harnessing the business support for this because the days that are lost when disruption takes place to that crossing are absolutely appalling. You have only got to witness the last couple of days. Yesterday QE2 bridge shut for 11 hours. What you need is a resilient plan. You need a tunnel lower down. It should be a tunneled crossing which it will be at the option C. You can't do it any other way, and frankly the sooner some of the people who, if I may say are the Luddite community, who say that such an additional crossing is not required, or (ridiculing tone) "let's put one on the London side of the crossing", are simply not accepting that this is a serious disruption to the business interests of Essex and indeed Kent and therefore we would urge the government to press ahead. I am convinced that they will press ahead, particularly if we can unite around that crossing, option C and probably the government's preferred route.