The Corporate Director of Place presented the item which provided the Task Force of an update regarding a meeting that had taken place between Council Officers and Highways England since the last meeting of the Task Force.
Councillor Okunade requested that points raised at the 22 January 2018 be forwarded to Task Force Members.
Councillor Kelly raised concerns of the proposed plans in relation to the issues in Dartford following the consultation pitched by Highways England on the 22 March 2015. Where it was stated that it would be Highways England’s obligation to sort out Dartford issues as part of this project and that pressure should be continued to be applied.
The Chair stated that the plans were flawed and lacked vision and highlighted that offering no rail links was an oversight by Highways England.
Councillor Rice requested a business case detailing route comparisons that would demonstrate best value for money. Tim Jones stated that this would be necessary as part of the Business Case which was currently being developed.
Tim Jones agreed to make sure the whole business case brought in Dartford for when the scheme operates from 2027 and offered to hold a summit to look at how the two crossings worked. This would be undertaken through the summer period with the final Business Case including public consultation feedback.
Councillor Jones questioned Highways England on the complexity of constructions on the Kent (south side). Tim Jones stated that there would be complex constructions and some major civil engineering issues on the south side which Thurrock would not have. That it would be hard to differentiate the two sides and that both would be treated the same. Councillor Jones stated there was still a lot of uncertainty by Thurrock residents.
Councillor Jones requested an update on the plans for the railway section. Tim Jones stated that this would be a matter for the technical group and were on the action list. The action list was worked on week by week and that items had been accelerated.
Councillor Jones requested an update on the downgrading of the A1089. Tim Jones stated that it would be highly unlikely that the A1089 would be downgraded.
Councillor Allen stated he strongly continued to be opposed to the Lower Thames Crossing coming through the borough.
The Chair repeated concern following the surprise announcement by Highways England at the previous Task Force that Heath Road would be closed. He requested that Heath Road should not be closed as shown in the virtual impact video by Highways England.
Tim Jones stated that Highways England had now re-considered and could re-assure the group that Heath Road and Baker Street would now not be closed as part of the plans. Councillor Rice accepted this decision and stated that Highways England was heading in the right direction on decision making.
The Resident Representative stated that it was very difficult for members of the Task Force not get too personal when speaking on behalf of public residents as Highways England were proposing something at the heart of their community.
The Thames Crossing Action Group Representative stated that Highways England should be more open and present their information more accurately. Tim Jones stated that it was unusual for Highways England to release information until after the public consultation and confirmed that no further information would be released until this consultation had been published.
Councillor Kelly requested that the junction between the A1089 and the A13 be scrutinised as a separate item. The Chair agreed to add this to the work programme as this would be seen as vital for Thurrock road networks.
Councillor Allen asked Highways England how they can assure the best interests of residents when Highways England was unable to tackle the litter problem on the A1089 and A13. Tim Jones stated that lots of litter initiatives had been put in place and agreed that more needed to be done in cooperation with Thurrock Council and the Police. Councillor Allen stated that the current contract with Connect25 should be addressed. Tim Jones stated that Connect25 were under pressure from Thurrock Council and Highways England and agreed to respond directly to Councillor Allen.
Councillor Rice stated that the untidiness between Chadwell St Mary and Woodside needed to be addressed.
Councillor Jones queried as to whether an updated version of the virtual impact video would be provided by Highways England that would show the location of houses.
The Chair stated that the Task Force would be seeking to thoroughly review a future version of the fly through. Tim Jones stated that no further information would be provided until following the statutory consultation.