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Cabinet minister backs growth around Thames Estuary

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Ambitious calls for Crossrail to be extended though Bexley have been boosted as a leading MP lends his backing to plans for growth around the Thames Estuary.

James Brokenshire, Old Bexley and Sidcup’s MP and secretary of state for housing and communities, compared the scale of growth available to the Northern Powerhouse.

Mr Brokenshire said: “I’m excited by the bold and ambitious vision for the future of the Thames Estuary that’s been set out – as well as the clear-headed steps proposed to get us there.

“I’ve been really pleased to see the scale of ambition from partners in the Thames Estuary Production Corridor – helping the area become a world-class centre for production with a focus on the creative and cultural industries.”

Government backing for growth around the estuary will boost hopes in Bexley of an extension of Crossrail through the borough and out to Kent, which is central to the council’s own growth strategy.

“The Secretary of State’s visit demonstrates the importance of investment in the Thames Estuary,” said council leader Teresa O’Neill.

The government has committed £4.85m to help fund preparations for the widely supported scheme. Crossrail was originally estimated to cost £15.4 billion and open in December 2018.

A series of delays has seen budgets spiral and a new opening window scheduled for October to March next year.

Chief constable 'must act on commitment to tackle UVF'

Gavin Robinson

East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson has said the new PSNI chief constable must act on his commitment to take on the loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

"It's encouraging to hear what the chief constable has had to say... but the community want action," he said.

Last week, Chief Constable Simon Byrne said the PSNI would "not tolerate" the UVF and would "take it on using all the powers".

Mr Byrne made the comments following tensions surrounding a bonfire in the grounds of the Avoniel Leisure Centre in east Belfast.