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Transport minister Patrick McLoughlin pledges to people of Gravesham that a new crossing at Dartford is still on the table

By Lizzie Massey

The transport minister has pledged to the people of Gravesham, that a new Thames crossing could still be at Dartford.

During a meeting yesterday (Tuesday), the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin spoke with MP Adam Holloway, council leader Cllr John Cubitt and opposition leader Cllr John Burden.

He confirmed that Option A – a second bridge at Dartford – is still viable has not been ruled out.

Another crossing at Dartford, known as Option A, was not included in the consultation but is technically still on the table

During the meeting, Gravesham representatives put their case against Option C – the lower Thames crossing proposed east of Gravesend.

Afterwards Cllr Cubitt said: “The minister said he wanted to put on record that Option A is still absolutely on the table.

"Highways England’s latest consultation certainly implies that a second bridge at Dartford is no longer under consideration but the Secretary of State – on whose shoulders the final decision rests – has made it clear that this is not the case.

Secretary of State for Transport, The Rt. Hon. Patrick McLoughlin MP

“Highways England’s latest consultation is also disingenuous concerning the relative costs of the two options. Their view of option A is to include all the ancillary costs at Dartford but not for Option C.

“The previous consultation in 2013 came to precisely the opposite conclusion on costs and put Dartford as the best value for money option.”

The delegation emphasised the main points of the case against the east of Gravesend route.

Relief for leader of Gravesham council Cllr John Cubitt as Option A is still on the table

Cllr Cubitt added: “The main problem is that, even according to Highways England, this does not begin to address the pollution and congestion Dartford and North Kent suffers. At best Option C would carry only 14% of the crossing traffic.

“It also blights a vast area for a decade while the wrangling continues over an expensive crossing which doesn’t begin to solve the roads crisis.”

Cllr John Burden later told Gravesham councillors that delays at Dartford would continue and that, if the lower Thames crossing east of Gravesend were to go ahead it would mean potential gridlock on the A2 in both directions.

The routes for the proposed Lower Thames Crossings

Gravesham councillors have twice unanimously rejected Option C in resolutions at full council under successive administrations.

Yesterday the council also adopted an amendment to the budget which sets aside up to £150,000 from reserves to fight the crossing proposals.

The council is urging people to take part in the current consultation.

Gravesham’s delegation to Whitehall also included county councillor Bryan Sweetland, Rev Nigel Bourne from Chalk church, Bob Lane from the Bridge Too Far group and Tom Covington from Mr Holloway’s parliamentary office.

For the latest coverage on the Thames Crossing see tomorrow's (Thursday) Gravesend and Dartford Messenger's.

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