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Election 2017: Halting Lower Thames Crossing claims cost us votes, says Dartford Labour candidate

PUBLISHED: 08:31 09 June 2017 | UPDATED: 11:37 09 June 2017

South portal Lower Thames Crossing

South portal Lower Thames Crossing

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Gareth Johnson held the bellwether seat for the Conservatives

A suggestion to halt the Lower Thames Crossing may have cost Labour precious votes in Dartford, the constituency’s candidate has said.

The area, blighted by traffic from the existing Dartford Crossing, has long campaigned for a second crossing east of Gravesend, which was approved in April in a bid to move traffic away from the town.

But in the build up to the election, Labour’s shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald suggested the party could halt plans and “look again at all options”, including a proposed second crossing in Dartford.

Days after the statement, the Labour party said it had “no plans” to halt the planned £6.5billion crossing, adding it would “need to ensure the decision making process has been completely robust and represents the best value for money.”

Hours after the election result, which saw Labour finish second to returning Conservative MP Gareth Johnson, candidate Dr Bachchu Kaini admits the claim cost the party.

He said: “The Conservatives ran a nasty campaign after what Mr McDonald said, and we didn’t have time to respond to residents to explain what we actually planned to do.

“Overall though, I know we ran a good campaign in Dartford and I’m optimistic for the future, I think this could be the beginning of the end of the Tories’ here.”

When the results were announced on Friday morning, Dr Kaini finished with 33.2 per cent of the vote, nearly eight per cent more than in 2015.

Gareth Johnson returns to the seat for his third term after finishing with a 57.6 per cent share of the vote.

Mr Johnson said: “We heard on a lot of doorsteps that people felt the original decision was right, once Mr McDonald made those comments people were understandably put off by the idea of putting another crossing here in Dartford.

“I’m delighted to have been elected with more than half of the vote and look forward to working hard for the people of Dartford once again.”

Mr Johnson added the “dust needed to settle” before any decisions were made on the future of Theresa May or the government, following a national result which leaves the country with a hung parliament.

To view the results in full, click here.


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