TEMPERS flared at a council meeting when an MP and council leader clashed over proposals for a third crossing over the River Thames.

MP for Gravesham Adam Holloway traded blows with Kent County Council (KCC) leader Paul Carter at the 500-strong meeting at Higham’s Memorial Hall in School Lane last Wednesday (FEB 2).

Labelling KCC’s Growth without Gridlock report for a third Thames crossing to the east of Gravesend “tragic”, Mr Holloway said he would be surprised if The Department for Transport endorsed the proposal.

But Mr Carter hit back at the MP, saying the council is in talks with the government over the plans and that it recognises the need for a third crossing in the area.

Spurred on by an angry audience, Mr Holloway concluded his crusade, saying: “My priority is my constituents, my country and my party.

“Don’t insult me in that way.”

The spat follows Mr Holloway thanking Mr Carter for braving the crowds at the meeting but saying he did not believe the crossing would ever come to fruition.

Tory MP Mr Holloway said: “I want to thank Paul Carter for his moral courage in coming here to face us all.

“But this will mean huge damage to property prices to everyone in this room.

“It’s tragic.

“I do not believe this thing will actually be built.

"It’s phenomenally expensive and there are alternatives.

“People living here are against it. They can’t afford not to be. They have mortgages to pay.

“Drop this idea right now and do not ruin their economic prospects.”

News Shopper: More than 500 people turned out for the meeting

Mr Carter was heckled as he defended the council's preferred route, which runs from Chadwell in Essex to the east of Gravesend.

KCC’s report also suggested a tunnel instead of a bridge, with potential funding coming from increasing the toll charge on the Dartford Crossing from £1.50 to £2 this year and from £2 to £2.50 in 2012.

The chairman of conservation charity Protect Kent, Richard Knox-Johnson, and Gravesham Council leader Councillor Mike Snelling also opposed the report's findings.

Mr Knox-Johnson suggested extending the Dartford Crossing and removing the tolls to alleviate congestion.

He also proposed getting more freight onto rail to minimise traffic and re-opening the deep water port at Dartford to off load HGVs at night.

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Margaret Pullen, 68, of Riverview Park, Gravesend, slammed the meeting as a “waste of time”.

The mother-of-two said: “Paul Carter didn’t know what was going on.

“We wanted to know where the crossing would be and what type of road would be used.

“It was a waste of time.”

Robert Standing, 45, of Hunting Field Road, Meopham, is "dead against" the plans for a third river crossing.

He said: “It will impact on the environment, the birds and the surroundings.

“The crossing is a no with me.

“Paul Carter seems very lost.

“He didn’t really know how to answer people’s questions.”