Senior Greenwich councillor Denise Hyland last night ignored worried residents’ worries about the Silvertown Tunnel – and even refused to accept two offers of meetings with independent air quality experts.
The council received 27 written questions on the Silvertown Tunnel from members of the public – most meetings usually only get about 10 or so on anything – yet none of them were answered straight.
As far as spoken questions went, Hyland claimed promoting the Silvertown Tunnel was the responsibility of Transport for London – despite the fact the council has launched an “all out” campaign to promote the tunnel, and a bridge at Gallions Reach, Thamesmead. (She can listen to evidence here, of course.)
She also refused to meet independent air quality experts about the proposals – despite proposals from myself and Conservative councillor Nigel Fletcher, playing devil’s advocate since his party backs the Silvertown proposal. (Note for non-local readers: only two parties are represented in Greenwich borough.)
In reply to the public question from myself, she suggested the experts meet TfL instead.
When Fletcher pressed Hyland on why the council had not carried out any studies to back its Bridge The Gap campaign, she replied: “These are a Conservative mayor’s plans… we are a stakeholder. You would be the first to accuse me of spending public money when actually the duty of doing these studies firmly rests with TfL.”
That’s despite the fact the council launched an “all-out” campaign to back that Conservative mayor’s proposals, as pictured above.
Indeed, the Conservatives pushed Hyland into a series of bizarre answers, which included her comparing the council’s backing of mayor Boris Johnson’s campaign to photocopy hire.
A bundle of 13 questions asking a variety of questions, including why Greenwich Council had not commissioned any studies into the effects Silvertown would have, received this reply:
“The council is responding to the Mayor of London’s high level consultation on river crossings. Once a specific package of crossings is formulated, it will be for the Mayor to undertake the necessary economic, environmental and traffic management assessments. These will need to be undertaken holistically, taking into account all the proposals, not individual transport solutions in isolation and should look at the implications of a one-crossing solution, both fixed link crossings, and the implications of doing nothing.”
Questions about why Greenwich Council’s strategic transport planner had called the plans “conjecture” were dodged, but not denied, as were questions about why the council had used “the full strength of its communications department”, while a written answer from Hyland said it would be “inappropriate to comment” on the possibility of demolition of homes for a possible widening of the A102.
A further question, about whether Greenwich would be happy just to see a Silvertown Tunnel built, was dodged with the answer that the council believes “a package of vehicular crossings [is needed] to complement the non-vehicular crossings”.
I don’t have the written answers available in a format to upload yet, but I do have audio of the public questions and the debate with the Conservatives.
Public questions – 20 minutes long, includes non-Silvertown questions (incl foot tunnel stuff) (download)
Conservative questions from Nigel Fletcher and Spencer Drury – 7 minutes long, well worth a listen (download)
Hyland’s performance was so surreal, I can’t quite take it in. The audio quality’s the best I can get it, but please, take a listen and let me know what you think.