Construction workers will flood borough in coming years councillors are told in latest update on Lower Thames Crossing

By Neil Speight

16th Jun 2021 | Local News

THE cost of the Lower Thames Crossing to Thurrock and the impact it will have on the borough, was discussed at this week's meeting of Thurrock Council's Lower Thames Crossing task Force.

At Monday's meeting, it was agreed that independent East Tilbury councillor Fraser Massey will again chair the task force for the next civic year and Labour group leader Cllr John Kent was elected as the vice chair.

In the first discussion they presided over, fears were expressed that Thurrock will be overwhelmed by construction workers if and when building the crossing goes ahead.

Chris Stratford, senior consultant advising Thurrock Council on the crossing, told councillors nine meetings have been held with Highways England on 58 measures which the council believe will mitigate the impact of the scheme on Thurrock.

One of the areas where there appears to be a gulf between what the council would like to see and what Highways England want is provision to accommodate construction workers.

Mr Stratford said: "They have provision on site for 480 workers within their current scheme – 80 are people working in the deep tunnel then 400 normal workers and they are proposing any other workers either travel to the site or use local accommodation."

Cllr Kent said: "I'm interested to hear the numbers of workers that will come into the area to build this at the very same time there will be tens of thousands of people working on Paramount Park across the water.

"They are already talking about disused cruise ships somewhere in the Thames to house workers. I am really concerned that the area won't be able to cope with that number of workers.

"It's not only about the pressure it puts on local housing, it's the pressure it puts on all sorts of services whether that's health services, doctors, policing as well as the impact on the local road network, so I do think we need to be really clear how they intend to house that number of people while they are here working."

Thurrock Council commissioned consultants Hatch to assess the impact the scheme would have. Its report to the meeting said there would be more than £300million lost in land and disruption to travel and business.

After the meeting Cllr Massey gave his appraisal of the situation, saying: "Something to take away from tonight's Lower Thames Crossing Task Force meeting. Here is an earlier quote from Highways England.

'Over the six-year building phase, it will employ more than 22,000 people, ranging from highly skilled engineers, architects, and designers, to other essential staff such as caterers, sign makers and IT support.'

"Highways England are only agreeing at the moment to house just around 500 workers, which over the projects lifetime will mean over 21,000 workers left to travel in or left to find housing locally be it privately purchased or rented.

"Can you imagine a Thurrock with up to an extra 21,000 workers, all needing somewhere to live, go to a Doctors, kids go to school, cars on the road etc. and all the other aspects of a massive upsurge in population.

"Thurrock (and its roads and services) can barely cope now, this huge influx would take already strained systems past breaking point.

"In the summer they will carry out yet another and this time looks like 100% final consultation, after the last planning application (Development Consent Order) was pulled by Highways England at the 11th hour, something which under the circumstance has never happened before.

"Please be ready to tell Highways England Thurrock cannot cope with such an increase in demand for housing and our services. With the theme park planned in Gravesend and perhaps Bradwell 2 Nuclear power station (3 of the largest projects around at the moment all in and around Essex at the same time) we risk being overrun with vehicles and people."

Sara Muldowney, Labour councillor for Chadwell St Mary, said after the meeting: "We all know the damage the Lower Thames Crossing will reap on our borough should it go ahead.

"The economic mitigation list we saw does not seem to address this damage."

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