LONDON Mayor Boris Johnson has been blasted for ignoring the views of Thurrock people and criticised for pandering to the whims of the “West London metropolitan set.”
In a double broadside, Mayor Johnson found himself first slammed by Thurrock Council leader Cllr John Kent over his support for a Thames estuary airport – then rebuked by his Tory colleague and Borough MP Jackie Doyle-Price.
However, Ms Doyle-Price does concede the Mayor is “just doing his job” and she called for a more pro-active approach in the battle against what has become known as Boris Island.
The latest word-slinging began with a response from the Mayor to a letter by Cllr Kent asking him to back off in bidding to locate a new airport on a man-made island on Thurrock’s doorstep.
Mr Johnson admits there will be impact in Thurrock but claims the effects of a “hub airport to the east of London will be overwhelmingly positive”.
Revealing the contents of the Mayor’s letter, Cllr Kent said: “Mayor Johnson mentions a meeting in Tunbridge Wells – this would be a meeting chaired by our director of planning and transport where it emerged Transport for London admitted at least 30,000 Thurrock homes – about half of all homes in the Borough – would be affected by noise from his new airport proposal.
“Quite how this would endear him to Thurrock people I’m not sure.”
And Cllr Kent is also critical of Mayor Johnson’s support for a new Thames crossing as detailed in the Government’s “Option C” – which drives a transport link through the Borough’s greenbelt.
“He claims he’s sorry I feel ‘aggrieved’ about his proposals and his support for Option C … somehow I think he’s not, really. His thoughts on Option C are very clear; he sees it taking traffic from the south coast ports to London avoiding the current crossing bottleneck – strangely not from EssextoKent,butonlynorthbound!
“He sees ‘economic benefits’ but dismisses Thurrock’s concerns by saying ‘it is important the detailed alignment of the route is designed in a way that minimises any adverse impacts on local communities’. I really want to see those designs as would anybody interested in Thurrock’s people, its history and its future.
“I’m sorry, it can’t be done. Any adverse impact is too much adverse impact on our borough.
“And then there’s Mr Johnson’s comments about London Gateway, claiming Option C would be of ‘great benefit’ to the new super-port.
“I’m afraid his recent interest and visit to the port just shows he’s finally woken up to what Thurrock is offering. Although there are details still to sort out about the new port’s traffic and rail plans, another river crossing in Thurrock is not and never has been part of the proposals.
“Mr Johnson doesn’t seem to realise that the advantage of having a major new container port and logistics hub here in the Thames is so much more efficient; it brings the goods close to their main market in London and the south east of Britain.
“London Gateway is exactly what it says on the sign – the gateway for goods into London!”
“I realise the London mayor is using the Thames-side airport and support for Option C for publicity reasons, unfortunately it impacts adversely on Thurrock, Thurrock people and Thurrock business.
“We’re telling business Thurrock is the place to be. Mr Johnson says it’s the place to drive through or fly over. His proposals are not only not thought through; they are counter productive for his beloved London.
“The capital needs Thurrock working at full capacity with its new homes, new jobs, new ports and new shops along with an efficient east- west and north-south transport system. Without this London and the south east will grind to a halt.”
Thurrock MP Ms Doyle-Price says she has some sympathy with Cllr Kent’s comments, but also delivered her own rebuke to Thurrock Council for not doing enough. Speaking to the Enquirer, she said:
“I tend to agree with John on the airport. Boris isn’t too bothered about Thurrock.
“He is more interested in keeping the West London metropolitan set happy.
“They want to see the end of Heathrow because the overhead noise disturbs the ambiance when they are sipping their gin and tonics of an evening. But that is his job. His job is to represent London. He doesn’t have any role towards Thurrock.
“Thurrock Council needs to be a lot more proactive in bringing forward proposals to support our borough. If it doesn’t, the GLA and Kent and Essex County Councils will trample all over us.
“That is why we are fighting a growing body of support for option C. Instead of saying “they’re all picking on us; it’s not fair!”, we need to be building our own alliances in support of alternatives.
“I have invited Boris to support my call for the Government to look at other options for a new crossing downstream of Thurrock.
“Thurrock needs to determine its own destiny through good leadership and through good ideas. Like him or loathe him, Boris could teach Thurrock Council a thing or two!”