“A dirty little secret”: Silvertown Tunnel comes under fire during hustings

Sadiq Khan’s Silvertown Tunnel plan came under fire from a Liberal Democrat London Assembly candidate last night, during the SWLondoner and Riverside Radio hustings.

Hina Bokhari, Liberal Democrat list candidate and Merton councillor, labelled the controversial tunnel Labour’s “dirty little secret” during a discussion over how to promote greener transport in London.

The tunnel, which will run under the Thames and connect Silvertown to Greenwich, has previously come under fire from Lib Dem mayoral candidate Luisa Porritt as the party believes it encourages people to drive rather than cycling or getting public transport.

Bokhari said that the Liberal Democrats’ policies and ideas would be ‘evidence-driven’, with new options for greener transport, including a road charging system ‘fit for the future’.

Bokhari said: “Our plan to introduce free bike hire for every Sunday will encourage people to get out there and enjoy London. We intend to double spend on cycle infrastructure by 2024.”

On the incentive to improve London’s air pollution through better solutions to transport, Green Party candidate Hannah Graham said: “We need to be taking traffic off our road, make the roads work for the community. Councils and communities have to be funded to develop our own.”

The representative of the Green Party also referred to ‘carbon harmful contracts’ and the party’s opposition to airport expansion in a carbon-aware plan which aims to bring 60,000 new jobs.

Conservative candidate Louise Calland claimed air pollution was high on mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey’s agenda, with a focus on the responsibility of the London Mayor over the individual.

She said: “We’re looking at what the mayor can do, rather than increasing the living cost to Londoners at this time. The mayor needs to take on responsibility instead of putting everything on to the individual.”

Her incentives included ‘better air for young people’, with an opposition to outer London road tax, and referred to the 30% in TFL debt which has accumulated since Sadiq Khan has been in office.

Leonie Cooper, Labour, praised the Greens, and Liberal Democrats for working in collaboration with her party in the London Assembly on environmental transport, but blamed the Conservatives and UKIP for a lack of progress.

Cooper said: “Air pollution is stunting peoples’ lungs and is a cause of death.”

She added that Labour wish to fulfil their target of 80% of London commuter journeys taking place by foot.

Cooper’s incentives included expanding an ultra-low emission zone in Putney and to establish electric buses, referring to the 477 London schools in polluted areas affected.

She added said that Labour and Khan were ‘struggling against eight year of previous gross inaction’ by the Conservative government.

The panel discussion took place on 27 April at 7pm and you can vote for the London Mayor and London Assembly on 6 May.

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