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Boris critical of a bridge too far

PUBLISHED: 18:27 28 May 2008 | UPDATED: 14:51 25 August 2010

MAYOR Boris Johnson has spoken against the controversial Thames Gateway Bridge (TGB) to the delight of campaigners.

MAYOR Boris Johnson has spoken against the controversial Thames Gateway Bridge (TGB) to the delight of campaigners.

Mr Johnson told Greater London Assembly members at his first mayoral question time last Wednesday that the current TGB proposal was not right and could not be supported against residents.

His comments come after a Green Party commissioned report supported a high-capacity cable-car option or ferry service over a bridge for cars.

Friends of the Earth campaigner Jenny Bates said: "I'm absolutely delighted. I think he is genuine about scrapping the existing bridge plans.

"Building a six-lane road bridge across the Thames would bring more traffic, noise and pollution and do little to regenerate the area.

"He has followed up what he said in his manifesto. I hope it's a positive step forward."

The 'cable-car report' suggested that 40,000 foot passengers could be moved each hour.

It read: "It is notable that the original bridge concept comes out very poorly compared with any of the main new options we propose should be investigated."

An inquiry into the possible £500 million Thamesmead to Beckton bridge was reopened last July despite being unexpectedly turned down by the planning inspector in August 2006.

Mr Johnson's opposition was also welcomed by Bexley councillors, who have long opposed plans for a bridge claiming it would increase congestion in the borough.

Peter Craske, Bexley council member for transport, said: "I am delighted that the Mayor of London has listened to, and acted on the concerns of our residents.

"Bexley desperately needs better public transport options.

"We are really looking forward to working towards delivering genuine transport improvements for the residents of Bexley and south-east London over the coming months."

Despite Bexley's opposition, former mayor Ken Livingstone was a strong supporter of the TGB.

But Mr Johnson gained significant support from Bexley and Bromley residents, where he scooped 60.8 per cent of the vote.

He also forged a strong Bexley tie by hiring former council leader as his government relations deputy.

Anti-bridge campaigner Jacqui Wise, of Action Against the Bridge, is pleased with the proposal, but is not yet entirely convinced.

She said: "It's only a victory for us if the car-bridge proposal is scrapped."

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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