Published: 16:27, 21 August 2020
| Updated: 13:02, 24 August 2020
Medway Labour and Co-operative Group is calling for Medway residents to be exempt from toll charges for the planned Lower Thames Crossing (LTC).
The group put forward the idea as part of its submission to the LTC consultation process, which ended earlier this month .
Charges for the crossing are due to be calculated on the same basis as the Dartford Crossing but present proposals include a resident discount operating only for Gravesham residents.
The Labour group agreed that the proposed LTC is a necessary short-term solution to tackle chronic congestion but urged developers to implement additional capacity on Blue Bell Hill, the M2 and M20 before the crossing opens.
They stressed these roads already suffer from congestion at peak times and said "there are serious concerns that the LTC will exacerbate this and bring unmanageable volumes of traffic to the Medway Towns and surrounding areas, well above the capacity of the roads".
Medway Labour’s spokesman for regeneration and communities, Cllr Andy Stamp, added: "The July 2020 update did bring some important clarifications regarding the reduction of environmental impact of the development.
"We welcome the changes to the scheme which aim to preserve local wildlife as well as reduce the impact on ancient woodlands.
"Medway’s local road network already struggles with high volumes of traffic, and the crossing will only increase congestion."
“Having said this, we believe this could go further and absolutely support consideration of additional measures to reduce the environmental impact of the scheme on surrounding communities, and ensuring that the impact on air quality is minimised as much as possible.
“It is imperative that capacity issues are addressed prior to the delivery of the LTC.
"Medway’s local road network already struggles with high volumes of traffic, and the crossing will only increase congestion.
"We urge Highway England to work closely with Medway Council to minimise the impact of the LTC on Medway’s local road network.”
Gravesham council has previously criticised a lack of detail in the latest consultation papers, including the discounted charge for the borough's residents.