By Kiro Evans
Greenwich Council has become the latest council to call for the Silvertown Tunnel to be halted in another blow to the London Mayor.
The South-East London local authority follows Newham Council, which earlier this month rejected the road tunnel.
Both councils are Labour-controlled, but yet have turned their backs on Sadiq Khan’s £2 billion plan.
The Silvertown Tunnel is a huge infrastructure project that would see four lanes connect the Greenwich Peninsula to Newham under the River Thames. It is already under construction and is set to be complete by 2025.
City Hall says it would relieve congestion and traffic problems around the Blackwall Tunnel, and allow more bus routes to cross the Thames.
But opponents of the project said it would damage air quality and worsen pollution levels in Greenwich and Newham.
Labour councillor Chris Lloyd put forward a motion calling on the Mayor and Transport for London (TfL) to pause the tunnel pending a review.
It was then voted through by a comfortable majority following a heated debate where senior council members repeatedly clashed with the opposition.
Conservative leader Nigel Fletcher said the council demonstrated a “failure of leadership” and “last minute pandering”.
He said: “I’m extremely glad that we are finally getting to debate this issue given that we’ve had years of avoidance of the leadership who seemingly have done all in their power to prevent it being aired in this chamber.”
He added that it was “pretty lame” that Labour were calling for a halt only as the “spades and [tunnel] boring machines are literally about to go into the ground before they were prepared to do so.
“That is a failure of leadership collectively by the Labour group in Greenwich. This last minute pandering that we’re seeing with this motion tonight is too little and it’s too late. It stands no realistic chance of success and it’s the worst type of gesture politics at the last meeting before the council election.
“They have spent the last seven years insulting the intelligence of voters in this borough by trying to face both ways on this issue.”
The opposition amendment, where they called for more focus on extending the DLR across Greenwich, was turned down as Cllr Sarah Merrill accused the Conservatives of trying to take credit for the ideas of Clive Efford, the MP for Eltham.
Council Leader Danny Thorpe branded the opposition “the most disingenuous group of people I think I’ve ever met” as he hit out at their conduct.
Largely addressing campaigners sat in the public gallery, he said: “People talk about positions being entirely consistent. But, unfortunately, what we know is that despite what has been said by colleagues opposite, they have never brought a motion to the council on Silvertown.
“Actually what happened after the scrutiny meeting [last month] was they did write up a motion, they submitted it, they tried to make some enquiries to see whether or not we had a motion, and [then their] motion withdrew. Which I think is absolutely ridiculous.
“You would have seen the masquerading tonight … and I would ask all of you if you think that is decent, genuine politics.”
Labour councillor Gary Parker, who has always been against the tunnel, said: “Our planet is in peril [and] great global cities like London have a particular responsibility on these issues.”
Last night’s motion means that both councils which the tunnel would primarily serve are against it, along with Labour MP for Greenwich and Woolwich Matthew Pennycook and Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead Abena Oppong-Asare.