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Thamesmead ferry crossing "too little, too late"

PUBLISHED: 11:24 13 January 2012

Boris Johnson's re-election promise has been met with a mixed response

Boris Johnson's re-election promise has been met with a mixed response

PA Wire/Press Association Images

The London mayor's re-election promise of a ferry crossing in Thamesmead has been described as "too little, too late".

Greenwich and Woolwich Labour MP Nick Raynsford has slammed plans for a ferry crossing at Gallions Reach in Thamesmead by 2017, announced yesterday by Conservative mayor Boris Johnson.

Mr Johnson’s proposals also include a tunnel between the Greenwich peninsula and Silvertown in the Royal Docks, to have the capacity of 2,400 vehicles an hour in a bid to ease congestion on existing tunnels in Blackwall and Rotherhithe.

Mr Raynsford, who welcomed plans for the Silvertown tunnel which Transport for London is due to consult on next month, said: “One of Boris Johnson’s first actions as mayor almost four years ago was to cancel the planned Thames Gateway Bridge, linking Becton to Thamesmead. Since then, residents of east and south-east London have had to endure severe problems in getting across the river, with frequent blockages and delays affecting the Blackwall Tunnel, and no other fixed crossing for vehicles between Rotherhithe and Dartford.

“Now just months before an election, Boris Johnson has effectively admitted the catastrophic error he made in 2008 by cancelling the Thames Gateway Bridge Scheme. His deathbed repentance on the need for new river crossings is too little and too late.

“While the Silvertown link is very welcome and will help to relieve the acute congestion which frequently affects the Blackwall Tunnel, the Mayor’s proposals for a ferry at Gallions Reach is an unsatisfactory alternative for the Thames Gateway Bridge. It also poses serious questions about the future of the existing Woolwich Ferry. Will this continue as a free service, or will it be subject to tolls or possible closure under the Mayor’s proposals?”

Mr Johnson’s plans got the backing of Conservative Bexley Council leader Teresa O’Neill, who said: “I welcome the mayor’s promise to provide these two new river crossings, which will be a great benefit to residents and businesses in Bexley and which I hope will encourage significant new investment into the borough.”

Bexley Council’s cabinet member for Public Realm and Community Safety Peter Craske said: “We are particularly pleased that the Mayor has moved on from the previous poorly thought-out plan for a road crossing to something which is more sensible that will provide a valuable new link to Thamesmead and the north of the borough.”

Announcing the proposals last night, Mr Johnson said: “We are in the right time zone, speak the right language and have the young, skilled population to continue to attract investment from the world’s greatest businesses. This is not a time for London to falter it is a time for London to flourish.”

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