At Thurrock Council’s Lower Thames Crossing Task Force meeting on Monday 22nd January, Highways England made it clear that while they will ‘listen’ to the concerns of residents, the horizontal and vertical alignments of the road are ‘project led decisions’: Thurrock councillors and residents told they have “no influence” over Lower Thames Crossing route by Highways England – http://www.thurrockgazette.co.uk/news/15904908.Thurrock_councillors_and_residents_told_they_have__no_influence__over_Lower_Thames_Crossing_route_by_Highways_England/ As you can read in the article, the ‘areas of influence’ are in the main cosmetic.
The Chair of the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force, Councillor Peter Smith, said: “I appreciate Highways England explaining to us quite candidly that we cannot influence these areas.” Let’s be blunt, any Thurrock councillors participating in this task force are merely going through the motions for the sake of appearances. In effect they’re doing the bidding of Highways England in conferring an illusion of legitimacy on the forthcoming ‘consultation’ process when the stark reality is that it is nothing more than an exercise in bullshit.
The Chair of the Thames Crossing Action Group, Matt Jackson, has a considerably more realistic take on the consultation: “The consultation Highways England plan to run during 2018 will be little short of a waste of money. What is the point consulting the general public when they; a) have no effect on the final design. b) their opinions are discredited due to local business wants and needs?”
Why are we not in the least bit surprised by all of this? Regardless of whether it’s the Lower Thames Crossing or the re-vamp of Basildon town centre, we’ve always made the point that these are exercises by the planners in attempting to fool the public while ramming through what they deem to be right. We have a top down planning system that is inherently skewed towards delivering what big business demands regardless of the detrimental impact on ordinary people.
Until people wake up to whose agenda is being served here, the power dynamics that enforce that agenda and join in making an effective challenge to a political, economic and social system in thrall to neo-liberalism, we’re going to have more of this bullshit. It really is time to wake up, smell the coffee and start to do something to mount a serious challenge to this…