Blackwall Tunnel (Supplementary) [4]

Session date: 
May 23, 2007
Question By: 
Len Duvall OBE
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

I have some information and a question to the Mayor. I have great sympathy for the residents and those who travel on our roads in terms of this particular issue. Like many others, I have taken time out to speak to respective parties. The Mayor can speak for TfL. I can speak for the MPA and for the police service.

Last week I met with the Assistant Commissioner responsible for this particular area. I was not completely satisfied by the response that I got. I have asked for a written report. It does seem to me that action was taken that pre-empted a proper consultation exercise that would have been undertaken by TfL. Partly that is about managing risk. I know Members are not belittling some of the issues. There is not just the potential of a head on collision between two parties. The ultimate risk is that we have a fire ball and multiple accidents in a tunnel that takes, when it is in operation, over 2,000 cars an hour, unlike any other tunnel that we have; Rotherhithe takes a lot less.

My issue is about who took what decision, and when. I understand that TfL did receive information which said that the tunnel was unsafe. I do not think it would be very responsible of public agencies - whether it is the police or TfL - to allow cars to continue in an unsafe environment.

Both the Mayor and I would have liked early sightings of these issues. There was a failure of communication I think on the part of both agencies to sufficiently flag up at higher levels the consequences of these actions.

I am happy to put information into the public domain when we get to the bottom of those issues from a police perspective.

Longer term, we know that this part of the area suffered in terms of the cross-river capacity compared to others. We know also this will not solve some of the misery that has been created by the decisions that circumstances forced. However, where do we stand in terms of the potential third bore at Thamesmead - the so-called Silvertown Link - in terms of creating a safer environment that will be able to deal with some of that capacity that is there now? What chances, over a longer period, do we have of being successful with this proposal?

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Blackwall Tunnel (Supplementary) [4]

Answer for Blackwall Tunnel (Supplementary) [4]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

I suspect the chances of the Government funding the Silvertown Link before we have seen the impact of the Thames Gateway Bridge, if it is built, is pretty remote. Therefore I suspect the question of a third tunnel at that point will not arise in any of our political career lifetimes.

I think perhaps more urgent is that before we get into a similar problem with the Rotherhithe Tunnel, perhaps we should have a proper public debate about the circumstances of Rotherhithe where you have the same situation; two way working. I suspect it is sufficiently congested that much overtaking is not terribly possible, but the European Directive will clearly have some bearing. Whether or not, in the long term, we might have to move to running one way in the rush hour in the morning and the other way in the evening, I do not know. Perhaps it would be better if we had the public debate about Rotherhithe, rather than find it suddenly lands on my desk at about 24 hours notice, as this one did.