TRANSPORT NEWS: Critics denounce bridge consultation

An overwhelming public vote of support for a road bridge across the River Thames masks a public relations "sham", environmental groups are claiming.

The accusations were levelled as London mayor Ken Livingstone said last week that 85 per cent of east Londoners want the Thames Gateway Bridge, linking Beckton and Thamesmead, to be built. The crossing will provide dedicated lanes for public transport, cyclists, pedestrians and general traffic and is expected to open by 2010.

Livingstone insisted that the bridge "will provide an essential and overdue transport link for east London, helping regenerate the area, creating better access to employment and stimulating economic development".

Thames Gateway Bridge project director Mike Clarke added: "East Londoners have shown overwhelming support for the crossing."

But Friends of the Earth London campaigner Jennifer Bates claimed the consultation was a "flawed exercise" yielding "unreliable" results. "I doubt whether these are the results we would have seen if local people had been given proper information about the traffic and air pollution effects," she added.

The Green Party also condemned the consultation process as a "complete sham". Deputy London mayor Jenny Jones said: "Residents were sold the bridge as a local link rather than as the motorway-sized route that it actually is."

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