The Assistant Director of Lower Thames Crossing updated the Task Force on the Statement of Community Consultation. The Statement of Community Consultation is the start of the process and is an item that a promoter of a Development Consent Order is required to consult the Local Authority about the way in which a statutory consultation is to be conducted in its area. Thurrock Council received the information in August 2018 and Officers had worked across the Council to formulate a response. The document details the length of consultation period; where events will be held; where documents will be presented; and deposit locations and information points where people can collect feedback forms.
Thurrock Council produced a detailed schedule of comment in relation to the Statement of Community Consultation to ensure the consultation would be fair and accessible for all local residents and they were given the opportunity to share their feedback and to participate.
The Chair opened the Task Force to questions.
Mr Jackson, Thames Crossing Action Group Representative expressed concerns with the lack of performance from Highways England as they did not convey in their process what was going to be achieved. Highways England needed to be open and transparent on what they wanted to achieve and whether the community were going to understand the wording and structure of the documents. Mr Jackson also questioned how Highways England were going to inform residents about the upcoming Consultation.
The Assistant Director of Lower Thames Crossing commented that the Statement of Community Consultation did not contain any details or information about the consultation although they were fully aware of the dissatisfaction and engagement with the residents. Officers provided detailed information to Highways England in response to the Statement of Community Consultation. Highways England have regulations, guidance and its own policy they were required to follow and the consultation will need to be published a couple of weeks before in a National newspaper, the London Gazette (for one week) and a local newspaper for at least two consecutive weeks. Thurrock had provided information to Highways England about the newspapers in the local area as well as the local consultation portal.
Mr Jackson, Thames Crossing Action Group Representative pointed out that in the past residents were not made aware of this and it was extremely important for residents to be alerted of what is occurring in their Borough.
Ms Mulley, Resident Representative shared concerns that Thurrock Gazette were publishing this information although those residents in the area most affected do not receive the Thurrock Gazette. The Assistant Director of Lower Thames Crossing explained that the relevant information would be published on Thurrock Councils website and they would ensure that residents are made aware. Officers would do all they can to provide this information to residents.
Ms Mulley, Resident Representative pointed out that Highways England had already booked for a consultation before Thurrock Council advised that they had received this information in August 2018. The Corporate Director Place said Officers want to ensure all Highways England Consultation events reflect the scheme and provides an opportunity for local people to engage and contribute. The Local Authority will do all they can to ensure people are aware of the consultation.
Councillor Allen asked for an update on the Health Impact Assessment.