Thames Gateway (Supplementary) [2]

Session date: 
November 12, 2008
Question By: 
John Biggs
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


I was, by the way, on the previous question going to ask whether you were inclined to sponsor the creation of a London branch of the Bullingdon Club to promote youth harmony, but I did not have the opportunity to do that. Given its promotion of vertical drinking and antisocial behaviour that is probably not a good idea.

On the Gateway I am surprised that the Tories even persisted with this question because the proper posture for you is one of shame at having given back to the Government £350 million which they had put on the table for you to spend on improving transport in the Gateway. -- What I cannot understand is that you are indulging your friends in the Tory boroughs and saying, 'You don't have to build any social housing if you don't want to,' and the obvious quid pro quo, with respect, is to facilitate the construction of housing in the Thames Gateway. It tends to be a Labour area. Could you tell me - other than Bexley who you appear to have been talking to endlessly about your aspirations for the area or lack of aspirations - which other boroughs you have met? Have you met the Thames Gateway boroughs to discuss the Bridge, to discuss transport, to discuss housing, to discuss any of those issues? Have you bothered to do it?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Thames Gateway (Supplementary) [2]

Answer for Thames Gateway (Supplementary) [2]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

As you know, I meet regularly with borough leaders in all parts of London, not least from East London. I am not saying that there are not difficult issues involved for the use of the A13 and all the rest of it. I just think that if you look at the Thames Gateway Bridge, there are better ways of cracking that problem.

John Biggs (AM): No, let us talk about housing, regeneration, investment. You have no vision. Have you listened to them about what their vision is?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): There are huge opportunities to build wonderful new housing, in fact hundreds of thousands new homes can be constructed in that vicinity without the monstrosity of a construction that would - as Darren [Johnson], with whom I do not always agree with, rightly said earlier on - have been hugely damaging for the environment in South East London.

John Biggs (AM): I would challenge you to survey independently the people of Bexley and find out whether they actually opposed this bridge. I think people of Bexley are as frustrated as everyone else in the queues they face to cross the River Thames.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I do not know how often I am going to have to repeat this. The other point is the planning official had directed refusal and it is an illusion to say that this bridge could have been constructed without any further expense. There was £90 million at least that we would have had to spend on it, it was not an environmentally sound proposal and I am afraid that I had no hesitation in looking for a better solution. Really if you look at the map, why on earth are we sending hundreds of thousands of cars through the middle of South East London when we could send them --

John Biggs (AM): What you need to ask yourself --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I want you to have a bit of vision here, John. Let me sow an imaginative idea in your head. What they fundamentally want to do is to get onto the A2, right. The Silvertown crossing is infinitely superior because you are immediately at the right place, you do not have to snuggle your way through South East London through Bexley and it is, in my view, the option that we should pursue. What I would like actually, if you can get over your feelings about this, is for us to unite and to look at transferring those PFI credits to a new proposal at Silvertown. I really think it is the way forward.