Councillor James Beckles (Plaistow North) on his blog today:
Monday 23rd January it was our first Newham Labour Group after the Christmas break. On the agenda was a motion calling for the rejection of plans for the Silvertown Tunnel.
The arguments for the motion were compelling, arguments about the health consequences for people living in the surrounding area.
It was put to Labour Group that the motion be amended effectively taking out the strength and force from the motion.
This was put to a vote. I voted against the amendment, however the amendment was passed. The amended motion was then put to a vote and was passed. I voted against the amended motion on the grounds that it was watered down and the substance of the motion was lost.
I support the regeneration opportunities happening in our area and the potential these have to uplift people and place. However this should not be at the cost [of] residents’ health.
To understand exactly what happened you need to read the motion that was originally put by Cllrs Conor McAuley (Custom House) and Ann Easter (Canning Town North), and what the wrecking amendment moved by Cllr Ken Clark (cabinet member for Building Communities, Public Affairs, Planning and Regeneration) took out.
The full text is below, and the red section (also in square brackets) is what got taken out:
Newham Labour Group notes that:
- TfL have consulted on building a 4 lane tunnel at Silvertown next to, and in addition to, The Blackwall Tunnel, which the former Mayor Johnson said will double road capacity across the Thames at this point and help ease congestion.
- It is widely acknowledged that you cannot build your way out of congestion and that a more appropriate strategy would be to improve conditions for walking and cycling as well as make public transport more affordable.
- The additional road capacity would lead to a significant increase in motor traffic in Newham (particularly in Canning Town) and significantly worsen air quality in this borough.
- [Newham and London already suffer from poor air quality and building this tunnel is totally incompatible with Newham and London meeting their air quality targets.
Therefore Newham Labour Group calls upon Newham Council to reverse its position on the Silvertown Tunnel and call upon Mayor Sadiq Khan to cancel the project.
Further,] Newham Labour Group urges Newham Council and the Mayor of London to investigate alternatives such as continuing the A406 south beyond the A13 and across the Thames east of the Woolwich Ferry.
The motion was amended and passed. So Labour group declines to note the poor air quality in Newham and won’t be calling for the cancellation of the Silvertown Tunnel project.
As one councillor tartly put it later, ‘Every child a breather’ is clearly not one of the Mayor’s priorities.