Ken Livingstone abandons old friends, old promises and the poor of East London to build big-business motorway

Keen supporters of the plan, Mayor Ken Livingstone and Transport Minister John Speller, are both attending the reception at Canary Wharf. Ken Livingstone originally opposed the building of the bridge during his campaign to become Mayor in May 2000. At one meeting of local people, he stated that if the planners wanted the bridge they would have to bury him in the first block of concrete.

The plan to build a road bridge has been successfully fought off by local people for over 20 years. However, the new proposal was forced through at a Transport for London (TfL) board meeting when Ken Livingstone used his casting vote as Chair to get a majority to push ahead with the bridge. His long-standing political friends on the TfL Board were all against the six lane road bridge, but the Mayor scraped through, supported by the votes of the business community.

The Mayor claims that his plan for this bridge different to the old proposal, because two extra bus lanes have been added to the original four-lane plan. However, it still crosses the river at the same point as the original crossing, which was designed to cater for long distance traffic. Also, TfL officers have made it clear that if the Mayor wanted a local crossing, used by buses, walkers and cyclists, then it would be elsewhere in East London.

Jenny Jones, Green Party member of the London Assembly said:

“This is a big new road for the benefit of big business. The needs of local people are being by-passed, so that suburban commuters can drive their cars into Docklands. Ken has ignored his oldest friends and broken his election promises in order to impose this road bridge on the people of East London. My advice to the Mayor is to tell the bankers and developers to put the champagne on hold. Local people have been successfully fighting this bridge for over 20 years and they are just as determined to stop it now as they were when the Tory Government was pushing it.”

A recent report by transport expert John Elliot showed that the bridge would be capable of dealing with over 6,000 vehicles an hour, bringing a massive amount of traffic, congestion and pollution onto the roads of East London. The report concluded that there was no justification for building the new road bridge, stating that it would not meet the needs of local people.



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