Emotions ran high at the full meeting of Thurrock Council this week as campaigners against the Lower Thames Crossing were ejected for trying to make their voices heard in the chambers.

The Lower Thames Crossing proposals were up for discussion for the first time since Highways England announced they would opt for route option C, going cross the A13 at Orsett and connecting land east of Tilbury to land east of Gravesend.

Council leader Rob Gledhill was presenting a report that would set out the authority’s next moves to reaffirm their opposition to the proposals, including creating a Lower Thames Crossing task force to spearhead the response.

But the Thames Crossing Action Group, who have been active for two years and are 9,000 members strong on social media, were dissatisfied with what they perceived as a muted response from the council.

Action group leader George Abbott led the discord from the public gallery, which was packed with campaigners hoping to get their views across, forcing Mayor Tunde Ojetola to suspend the meeting until the matter was resolved.

Despite Mr Gledhill's assurances that the council was keen to hear from members of the public, Mr Abbott took issue with the fact he had been denied permission to speak at the meeting.

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He stood up to address the council and said: “Don’t say you want to hear from residents. You haven’t given up on Thurrock residents, you never even tried.

“I requested two minutes to address the council. I represent thousands of people and when I put in a question to ask at this meeting, it got rejected.

“You need to start acting like leaders because at the moment, the only leaders are in the public.”

Security were called to escort Mr Abbott out of the chambers and the disturbance continued as he and his fellow campaigners left with councillors struggling to maintain composure in the face of the controversy.

Mayor Ojetola left the meeting momentarily and UKIP Councillor Kevin Wheeler got in a heated exchange directly with Mr Abbott.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Abbott said: “I’m so outraged. I sat through all councillors saying they want to hear from residents and they need our involvement.

“So I would say it is a fair and reasonable request to ask for two minutes to address the council. All that meeting demonstrated is that there is still no plan in place to fight these proposals.

“The cold reality is that it’s too late to pursue legal challenges. Thurrock Council have procrastinated and dithered for too long.

"I completely acknowledge that for us to continue effectively we need to work with the council but that does not mean I will not challenge them.”

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