2012 Olympic Games

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 1:41 pm on 26th November 2002.

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Photo of John Austin John Austin Labour, Erith and Thamesmead 1:41 pm, 26th November 2002

I thank my hon. Friend Mr. Beard for allowing me to speak in the debate. He and I represent an area of London that is one of the worst served for public transport and includes some of the 10 most deprived wards in the country. My constituency includes Thamesmead—in effect, a new town designed in the 1960s as a contribution to solving London's housing crisis, but built without any thought of providing an adequate public transport infrastructure. Inadequate bus services developed in an unplanned and uncoordinated way as the population grew, with the result that transport in and out of Thamesmead is poor and within it even poorer. Thamesmead's nearest railway station is Abbey Wood, on the periphery.

Part of my constituency lies in the London borough of Greenwich, and colleagues at Westminster often assume that because of that, I have access to the new Jubilee line station, which serves the Greenwich peninsula. However, where I live, on the boundary of Thamesmead and Belvedere, in the heart of my constituency, there is no direct bus or any other link to the Jubilee line. Even from parts of my constituency that have a direct bus link, the journey time can be an hour or more. Yet Thamesmead and Belvedere, as my hon. Friend said, represent one of the largest employment areas and potential employment areas in London. The Belvedere employment area is the second largest industrial area in London, with potential for more development. Realising the potential of the Thamesmead and Woolwich industrial estates, the Belvedere employment area and, further east, the industrial and development sites in Erith and along the Thames road to north Kent, as well as retaining existing businesses, depends on good transport infrastructure.

The Minister saw for himself on his recent visit the problems caused by the Thames road bottleneck. When he saw the view from the top of the Pirelli vulcanising tower, he could see the development potential. Regrettably, a few days after the Minister left the site, Pirelli served 90-day redundancy notices on the bulk of its staff and the company is in danger of closure. I hope that he and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will intervene to ensure that the Government do what they can to protect the submarine cable industry in this country.