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Council leader faces jeering crowds to promote the Gravesend crossing proposal

PUBLISHED: 15:34 03 February 2011

Paul Carter putting forward his case at the river crossing debate

Paul Carter putting forward his case at the river crossing debate

Archant

Over 500 people turned up on a bitterly cold evening to put the heat on the county council leader as he pushed the case for a controversial lower river crossing.

Higham Memorial Hall, in School Lane, was packed to the rafters with angry residents, there to quiz Kent County Council (KCC) leader Paul Carter about his proposals for a third river crossing to the east of Gravesend.

There was heckling and jeering as he spoke, as the route he advocates would cut through the heart of valued green belt land, parts of which are environmentally sensitive and protected by groups including the RSPB. But many people also praised Mr Carter for having the ‘moral courage’ to attend - and he admitted that he ‘knew it would be a rough ride’.

Other speakers at the event were Richard Knox Johnston, chairman of Protect Kent, who argued for ‘more sustainable’ alternatives, Paul Crick, Director of Integrated Strategy and Planning at KCC, Mike Snelling, Leader of Gravesham Borough Council and Gravesham MP Adam Holloway.

Cllr Snelling and Mr Holloway spoke strongly against the east Gravesham option and the Conservative MP suggested that the crossing is unlikely to ever materialise.

The Department for Transport (DfT), which will make the decision, commissioned a report in 2008 that short listed three options - to expand the Dartford Crossing, to cross at the Swanscombe Peninsula and to the east of Gravesend.

But, with no further progress since the report was published Mr Carter commissioned MVA Gifford to do a separate report, published last month, which came down heavily in favour of the latter option.

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