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Dartford Labour candidates rubbish claims party would halt Lower Thames Crossing plans

PUBLISHED: 12:57 02 June 2017 | UPDATED: 12:57 02 June 2017

South portal Lower Thames Crossing

South portal Lower Thames Crossing

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The crossing has been approved to be built east of Gravesend

Dartford’s Labour candidate and group leader have both rubbished reports that the party could halt the development of a Lower Thames Crossing.

Earlier this week, shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald appeared to pledge a rethink on the £6.5billion crossing, which the government has approved to be built east of Gravesend.

He told Essex website Your Thurrock “An incoming Labour government will look again at all options - including the options to the east of Thurrock that were prematurely dropped.”

In the wake of the article, Conservative candidate for the borough Gareth Johnson described a Labour government as “a disaster for our town”.

He said: “What needs to be done is to get on with building the crossing because it’s a sensible decision and the only option that actually works, so I’m surprised we have got this announcement.”

Two days later, the party appears to have backtracked on Mr McDonald’s comments, releasing this statement: “There is a clear need for a new Lower Thames Crossing and it should proceed as quickly as possible. We do not intend to halt the process but, as with any incoming government, we would need to ensure that the decision making process has been completely robust and represents the best value for money. The £6.5bn project needs to be a good use of taxpayers’ money. It also needs to work for local people and address their concerns.”

Dr Bachu Kaini, Labour candidate for Dartford at next week’s election, said: “We need to get this project started as soon as possible and ensure the crossing on time and on budget, while delivering the outcomes the outcomes to people in Dartford that the government have promised.”

Labour leader in Dartford Jonathon Hawkes added: “Option C is the only way forward to getting Dartford moving again and reducing the air pollution that has afflicted our town for too long.”

The bored tunnel through the Gravesham countryside into Essex is expected to open as early as 2025.

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