Communities secretary Eric Pickles on a visit to Gravesend today
by Dan Bloom
Everyone has their view on a new lower Thames crossing, but the man in charge of Britain's planning law has an added interest.
Cabinet minister Eric Pickles has today revealed one proposed route would plough through his house.
The larger-than-life communities secretary, who lives across the River Thames in Essex, made the comments on a campaign visit to Gravesend.
He joked: "The last plan took the river crossing right through my house so I personally wasn't too pleased with it as an individual."
But Mr Pickles maintained the decision should be left to the councils involved, not his government.
"I understand there's a bit of disagreement between parts of Essex and Kent," he said. "If we are going to build a bridge we need agreement on both sides.
"It's been said to me that they just need to be left alone to get on with it so I look forward to seeing them get on with it."
Some of the options for a new Thames crossing
His comments came after the leader of Thurrock Council, across the river from Gravesend, vowed he would fight any crossing plan.
Kent and Essex County Councils have been in talks for years over how to ease traffic at the Dartford Crossing.
A Kent County Council-commissioned study in 2010 said the best way would be to bridge the Thames east of Gravesend, linking to the M11 near Stansted.
This could plough through Mr Pickles' village of Mountnessing, near Brentwood.
Mr Pickles visited the Ickle Pickles nursery in Iwade, near Sittingbourne, today before moving onto Gravesend High Street.
He met candidates in the upcoming Kent County Council elections, Conservative Future members and members of the Sikh and African communities.
He admitted the party has a battle due to government cuts, adding: "Labour just need to turn up and they're going to take a lot of seats.
"Kent has a lot to be proud of," he added. "It's a very well-run county. It's been in the lead on a lot of important issues, on social services for example."
Eric Pickles meets Leonardo's owner Savvas Christodoulou in Gravesend
Leonardo's Sandwich Bar owner Savvas Christodoulou, 60, made the minister a coffee and demanded lower parking charges and council tax in Labour-controlled Gravesham.
Mr Pickles agreed councils were using parking "as a milk cow", adding: "Down the road you have Bluewater with free parking."