The formal Statutory Consultation by Highways England has been announced to begin Wednesday, October 10, 2018.
So let’s recap on recent history.
The LTCA were not given advance notification of the commencement date of the previous 2016 consultation. We were expecting it in late 2015 and then in early 2016, but the first we knew about it was when it was published and went live. By coincidence, the news broke while many of our Committee members were at the Civic Centre in Gravesend for the inaugural gathering of all the local groups and parties, which was later christened the LTCA.
Until the news broke, we did not know anything about the proposed routes. In the previous 2013 consultation, the route of Option C went through Shorne Woods Country Park. KCC subsequently promoted their preferred route, which closely aligned to Option C Western Southern Link (WSL). Nobody had even seen or heard of the Eastern Southern Link (ESL) until the consultation was launched in late January 2016.
In the Spring of 2016 two or three parties including members of GBC and the LTCA had independently come up with and proposed very similar versions of an alternative crossing solution based around Highways England’s “Option A14”, a solution discarded early on in their route selection process. This conceptual route Option A14 was formally adopted by the LTCA as its preferred solution for its environmental and congestion mitigation credentials.
It is understood that there may be some good news to come in terms of mitigation in Highways England’s designs but that remains to be seen.
On July 5, 2018 a Parish Councillor attended a meeting held between GBC and Highways England. Highways England would not release any new information despite everyone knowing it existed and being asked direct questions. Highways England have been concerned about confidentiality which is frustrating as it makes a mockery of their community engagement programme.
The following week the updated red line boundary was published, without there having been any mention of that coming.
Recalling how we were all present at the Civic Centre when the consultation was launched in January 2016 reminds us of how ‘joined up’ we were, with GBC Leader John Cubitt and a number of other Borough Councillors, Kent County Councillors, Parish Councillors, Abridge2far, Adam Holloway MP, Rev Nigel Bourne, and others, all working together as a team with a common aim. The LTCA Committee looks forward to continued collaboration both with our colleagues in Kent and our partners at Thames Crossing Action Group in Thurrock.