News is out tonight that the Greenwich Labour group have called for the Silvertown Tunnel to be paused for a “full review of options to reduce pollution and congestion”.
If Greenwich pull support they will join Newham, Lewisham and Southwark councils in opposing the scheme. Could TfL proceed with both boroughs directly affected opposed?
The tunnel was originally promoted as part of a “package of crossings” including Thamesmead and Belvedere yet that has whittled down to just a single crossing using the same road network south of the Thames already at capacity.
Opponents state Silvertown wouldn’t be so bad if other crossings for vehicles or public transport such as the DLR were underway, but as none are (or anywhere near being funded) it’s placing all eggs in one basket.
While proponents have often talked of a tunnel helping northbound morning traffic there has been far less talk about southbound evening congestion getting worse.
On a daily basis traffic now crawls from Falconwood back five miles to Greenwich. Traffic projections see those jams getting worse with a new tunnel and additional traffic, including lorries currently banned from Blackwall, heading onto the same road network.
Each local Labour constituency party had previously called for the scheme to be halted. At the last local election the Labour party’s vote share in Greenwich Peninsula fell sharply.
Just today Greenwich Peninsula Labour Cllr Denise Scott McDonald announced she was looking to become MP for Erith and Belvedere. She holds the brief for both transport and air quality and supported the tunnel.
Other Labour councillors have become more vocal in opposition in recent months, and former councillors have complained about decisions made years ago leading to this point.
A former Labour councillor Alex Grant stated that in 2014 councillors were told to “shut up”. He has also previously lifted the lid on bullying in the ruling Labour group at that time.
Problem is that Greenwich Labour's 'wobbles' on #SilvertownTunnel are too late. Lab cllrs who raised concerns before 2014 abt building a road tunnel with virtually no public transport were told to shut up. There's still time to rethink this madness, but its up to TFL & @Heidi_LDN https://t.co/kqJBAeejst
— Alex Grant (@AlexGrant24) October 10, 2019
Alex Grant makes a good point above; is it now too late? Has this change happened with the scheme now a formality? Is it just so the ruling Labour party are now able to state they are doing something when the chance for real change has passed?
The opposition Tories still support the tunnel with some claiming it will help congestion in their Eltham heartland. However traffic modelling states it will be worse. Given the A2 through Eltham towards Kent is already bumper to bumper each afternoon it is forecast that more vehicles will transfer onto the A20.
Sadiq Khan still supports the project, though appears an increasingly isolated voice in the Labour party along with deputy Heidi Alexander. Both continue to state a beneficial impact on northbound traffic while not commenting on southbound traffic. Legal action by a bidder to construct the tunnel means it’s currently on hold.
And will the three-tier lorry depot planned north of the Thames be halted?
So what happens now? Can a tunnel go ahead with little support from boroughs on either side?