Why Londoners have the silver-tongued Mayor to thank for the new, unecessary Silvertown Tunnel

Fresh from his success in not lowering the emissions from London taxis, Boris Johnson has topped his achievement by increasing the emissions via a new East End river crossing.

As we saw from this morning’s Boris-cronies post, the London Mayor has a rare talent for ignoring professional advice. When it suits him.

A new tunnel for East London – the Silvertown – is being proposed. But according to Transport for London (TfL)’s own assessment of options for new river crossings in East London, it seems clear that:

1. Not boring Silvertown at all but instead tolling the Blackwall would reduce motorists using it by half. Or

2. Boring Silvertown and tolling both it and Blackwall could be a brilliant solution, if the money’s there. However

3. The worst option would be to go for 2. above but not toll either of them. As the report notes, ‘charging is essential as building the Silvertown Tunnel would not in itself reduce congestion and delays’. Which sort of makes the enquiring mind wonder why the Silvertown project is being considered at all in a time of national fiscal crisis-cum-Armageddon.

Working on the endlessly proven theory that new roadways merely attract yet more traffic, TfL goes on to state, ‘If the new [Silvertown] crossing were not charged, then widespread congestion in the area is forecast, with the crossing resulting in much higher volumes of traffic in the surrounding area”.

The option of tolling the Blackwall Tunnel without building a new crossing was included in the ‘options’ paper, but was not put to the public in TfL’s Thames River Crossings consultation. This reflected Boris Johnson’s well-established practice of not putting in options he doesn’t like. It tends to ensure that they thus cease to be options, as such.

But only last October, Johnson promised live on LBC Radio that this would not happen – as this direct quote from the show’s transcipt confirms:

“We’ve got to look at all the options of how to finance it, and it is only sensible that in the consultation which is going on at the moment we should ask people about tolling.”

But it was only sensible. It clearly wasn’t obligatory, because it didn’t happen.

If this approach doesn’t solve the problem of narrowing down the options to one (his) then the BoJo roughshod strategy is employed: so even as the consultation was ongoing about the proposed Silvertown Tunnel until February 2nd 2013, Johnson neutered it by saying – at Mayor’s Question Time in January – that the Silvertown 4-lane road project would go ahead anyway. (In doing so, he was probably also guilty of corrupting it…but don’t dwell on that one too much: nobody will care, and it’ll only annoy you).

It all does make a nonsense of the verb ‘consult’. It should perhaps be replaced by ‘box-ticking’, or ‘through-motions going’. Indeed, local campaigner Alan Haughton observed that “The Mayor has corrupted the consultation. Why would any member of the public now respond when the Mayor has said it is going ahead anyway? Boris Johnsons comments show that the public input into any TfL consultation is irrelevant. The decision has been made. East London residents are being gagged by the Mayor.”

But why doesn’t Boris want to follow the tolls solution? Simples: because he is a shifty, power-mad politician thinking more about his political future than what’s best to reduce traffic and pollution in East London….where he is, of course, very likely to ever live. Tolls simply don’t play well with drivers: BoJo admitted this himself on radio last year, when long before any consultation had been even started, the ethereal Mayor averred that “I certainly won’t be putting in a toll in my Mayoral career… my Mayoral lifetime…”. But you see, when the electorate’s busy, distracted, asleep or drunk, you can just keep on contradicting yourself and fibbing away gaily, because nobody but sad bloggers will notice.

Two things to keep a beady eye on from here: who will get the construction job, and how much will it be over budget in the end. Because let’s face it, we taxpayers are not too keen on paying through the nose to have something that simply isn’t necessary.

Related: Boris and the Earls Court development scam

28 thoughts on “Why Londoners have the silver-tongued Mayor to thank for the new, unecessary Silvertown Tunnel

  1. Obviously if you offer an improved, free crossing, Londoners will use it and traffic will multiply. But someone will have to pay and it should be Londoners. Out here in the styx, we are not going to see a whisker of a benefit, any more than those living in France will benefit. Even though politicians like Boris don’t like upsetting the drivers, there will be tolls. They will be steep because new tunelling is extremely expensive. And Boris will have forgotten what he promised to whom in a few months’ time. He’s like that. Aren’t they all!


  2. Bojo is vying for the title of the, ‘Epitome’ of all that is wrong in politics today….The very apex of hypocrisy. There is no depth to which this man will not plumb. Scumbag of the First Order.


  3. Congestion will take care of itself if left alone. As soon as people’s personal cost / benefit analysis swings to “freak this for a game of soldiers” they will stop spending hours in traffic jams and wasting money and time.
    Off topic but the last few weeks has seen a steep fall in the value of the pound on all fronts with the exception of Japan. Planned by HMG in the ridiculous bid to be ” competative” or an attack?


  4. “They wanted the right to manage & look what they have managed to achieve”
    for what it will cost to build silvertown,you could extent the M11 all the way up to the Humber bridge,with 10x the benefits to the nation


  5. I am glad someone else has noticed the complete pile of tripe that flows from the mayor. I remember being flabbergasted when he was elected as I don’t recall him uttering a single word of competent sense in the whole campaign. I am not anti Tory just anti politician as they are all obsessed with re-election not the long term good of our country or the world.


  6. ‘Benefits to the Nation?’ What are you thinking of? What counts these days are benefits to construction companies who donate large sums to party coffers & mayoral election campaigns.


  7. “… we taxpayers are not too keen on paying through the nose to have something that simply isn’t necessary”…

    Which rather neatly explains the EU, windmills, HS2, Nick Clegg etc.


  8. One wonders if the aside to this tunnel is that Boris Island Airport would then be a more viable option………. “Boris International” most likely has a nice ring in his ears !

    Yet out in Dacre land – there are still people clamouring for Prime Minister Boris……… “It is enough to make a man deny his birthright” (Earl of Stafford before his beheading for treason at the idea that the commoners should have any say in what goes on in their country……. through strangely enough…. an elected representative parliament ! How far we have fallen.)


  9. Like the glorious Hs2 and the proposed ‘Boris Island’ it’s just another way for the London-centric imbeciles to trouser more taxpayer cash and reward their construction industry chums and benefactors.

    Bet doddery old ‘innocent’ McAlpine gets another fat contract…


  10. “And Boris will have forgotten what he promised to whom in a few months’ time“

    Whenever I hear this said about politicians I`m reminded yet again of the lyrics from a Neil Young song (Ambulance Blues)
    I believe it was written originally about Richard Nixon but it could have been written for many of oily characters we read about today.

    I never knew a man
    could tell so many lies
    He had a different story
    for every set of eyes.
    How can he remember who he’s talkin’ to?
    ‘Cause I know it ain’t me,
    and I hope it isn’t you.

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose….as they say in Froggy land.


  11. Since when did anyone on the verge of bankruptcy worry about spending money they didn’t have? You really think the UK can afford HS2 and yet the fantasy continues. Why not 2 new tunnels under the Thames? Silvertown and Goldtown perhaps?


  12. Generally agree wholeheartedly with your views on Boris and his cronyism, incestuous relationships with other ex public schoolboys and their business interests (ref the earlier post regarding Tim Yeo ho ho all the way to the bank).
    I do wonder about the crude measure of pricing the peasantry off the roads via tolls as a way of controlling traffic and pollution. There has to be a more equitable solution. This also applies to other ‘green’ measures such as the -now broken – fuel price escalator and the ongoing price hikes in domestic fuel bills which, setting aside obscene profits for fat cat shareholders etc, is alledgedly justified in order to reduce carbon emmissions. These measures cause real hardship for those at the bottom of the pile while allowing the wealthy to continue unhindered with their high carbon lifestyles.
    Such measures should be fuded from general taxation. Alternatively we should all have a fixed carbon allowance, which the jet setting, chelsea tractor driving, yacht owning elite would very quickly use up and then have to come begging peasants like me to purchase the un-used portion of our carbon allowance.
    I await with eager anticipation the opportunity to name my price to the likes of Johnson. I can see it now; a shrug of the shoulders, hands spread in a gesture of despair, ‘sorry Boris old chap but that’s market forces for you. Can’t buck the market now can we.’


  13. I cant agree that a new east London river crossing is not necessary. Anybody living in this part of the world it is very aware that it is desperately needed. Whenever there is a problem at the Blackwall tunnel the whole of east and south east London grinds to an immediate halt. I am not however convinced that it should be another tunnel at Silvertown. Ken Livingstone’s original idea for a bridge crossing at Gallions Reach, Thamesmead was a far better (and cheaper) idea. This project was cancelled by Boris. Yes the new crossing should be tolled until its paid for itself just like the original idea for the crossing at Dartford (which paid for itself far quicker then expected but of course the politicians decided to keep the toll). If they are looking for extra money why not use the revenue from the Dartford Crossing the cash raised from this now that the bridge has been paid off disappears into god knows where. This wretched toll also causes enormous congestion on the M25 which doubtless leads to more pollution but the politico’s really don’t care as long as the till keeps ringing and the cash keeps rolling in.


  14. Whether or not there should be another river-crossing is just addressing the symptoms, not the disease. The disease is too much focus on London and the South-East, that’s what causes all the congestion, property inflation, pollution, immigration, white-flight, etc.

    Try investing some of the funds outside the M25 for a change, spread the load and sporead the wealth.


  15. @Mudpugger – Boris has been elected as the Mayor of London so of course he is going to focus on the South East that is what he is paid to do. Another East London river crossing would not require national founding so would not be taking money away from the blighted north, it could simply be paid for by Londoners themselves from tolls in exactly the same way as the Dartford Bridge. There is only one river crossing within London east of Tower Bridge, the northern pipe of the Blackwall tunnel opened in 1897 having been built for the horse and cart. Its about time we had another crossing. The cheapest option is a bridge which is now possible since the demise and closure of London’s docks in 1976, river access for large ships no longer being an issue. We could of course have built several river crossings and completed many national infrastructure projects if we hadn’t squandered the money on the stupid Olympics.


  16. “Alternatively we should all have a fixed carbon allowance, which the jet setting, chelsea tractor driving, yacht owning elite would very quickly use up and then have to come begging peasants like me to purchase the un-used portion of our carbon allowance.”

    Bloody Hell, I’ve been thinking of something similar for years but assumed that it was so logical and fair that it must have a major flaw in it. Let’s say everyone over 18 (whether a driver or not) is allocated, for example, 1000 mileage units per month. Anyone who doesn’t need or use their allocation can sell some or all of them for a fixed fee to a central website which sells them on (for a similar fixed fee) to those who need/can afford them. Staying off the road is rewarded with (a modest amount of) hard cash every month. Still too much traffic? Reduce the total allocated.

    Fair distribution of wealth, no chance of ‘roads only for the rich’ through tolling, an end to unnecessary motoring, and finite, controllable total road use. Simples… is it?


  17. I find I am strangely unmoved by what happens in Londonistan these days. In fact if the cold war were to return and someone on the other side were to release several buckets of instant sunshine over the capital, then we would hopefully be rid of most of the politicians, most of the civil servants, most of the illegal immigrants and have but a few thousands worth of tragic collateral damage to mourn……


  18. Pingback: EASTLEIGH: Farage could’ve won the seat easily. Why didn’t he stand? | The Slog. 3-D bollocks deconstruction

  19. The last time Conservative grubbers were in power, but had overstayed their tepid welcome, and were due to be booted out, they built a white elephant not a stone’s throw from Silvertown. It was made out of circus materials, took the shape of an upside down wok, and took years to complete. And cost almost a billion quid and was regarded as a white elephant at the time.

    And after the Millennium Ball became instantly useless.

    That was the Dome, now renamed 02.

    It was sold for less than half the price of a pair of latex gloves – which were required to avoid leaving fingerprints as the mass of dirty loot was carried off to be deposited in lock boxes.

    Boris is simply learning from the past.

    Watch the bulge in his back-pocket get bigger and bigger and his nose gets longer and longer…


  20. Pingback: EASTLEIGH ELECTION: Why UKip will smooth the way towards a Borisonian Britain | The Slog. 3-D bollocks deconstruction

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