UPDATE: Swanley councillor weighs in to Lower Thames Crossing debate, claiming town is being ignored
PUBLISHED: 13:35 08 November 2016 | UPDATED: 16:03 08 November 2016
The councillor claims Swanley should be given a more prominent role in the debate
A Swanley councillor has weighed into the debate over the location of a new Lower Thames Crossing, claiming the town ought to be consulted about its location.
James Halford, Ukip councillor for Swanley White Oak, believes the town has been sidelined by a dispute between Dartford and Gravesham.
It follows reports last week that a fresh war of words had broken out between Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite and KCC’s Gravesham Rural member Bryan Sweetland over the location of the crossing.
Cllr Halford told the Reporter: “What amazes me is that no-one has asked Swanley, as we are affected.
“As a councillor, I am disgusted that we are not being asked our views. All they are worried about is Gravesend.
“Let’s be honest, option C is the most sensible solution. Gravesend and Dartford should stop their punch-up.
“It can take 45 minutes to get from junction 3 to Swanley town centre, which is a mile and a half.
“Christchurch is the most heavily polluted part of Kent, and pollution causes illnesses.
“This affects the whole of north-west Kent. Bexley and Crayford and that whole area is affected, and they should have a say, too.”
A consultation on the location of the Lower Thames Crossing was held earlier this year, attracting more than 47,000 responses from people across the county and beyond.
Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite last week said councillors were becoming ‘increasingly dismissive’ of the case for a new crossing at Dartford as a means of cutting congestion on north Kent roads, with Gravesend their preferred location for a new route.
“We have to have a new crossing and it can’t be at Dartford. It is not a case of NIMBY-ism but of common sense,” he said.
But Bryan Sweetland, Kent County Council’s Conservative Party councillor for Gravesham Rural, urged Dartford councillors to ‘come clean’ about the need for a new crossing in their borough.
He told The Reporter: “I think if you look at all the Highways England studies and traffic flows and everything else, even if a crossing is built at Gravesend the problem will still exist at Dartford.
“Whether or not Gravesend is backed it does not reduce the significant congestion and pollution at Dartford.
“Another crossing will have to be built at Dartford. I can’t see that congestion at Dartford would be resolved by putting a crossing at Gravesend.”