Neither Greenwich Council or TfL will say if the A102 will need widening to cope with additional Silvertown Tunnel traffic

The propaganda battle from City Hall and Greenwich Council over the Silvertown Tunnel has gone up a notch again, after the Transport for London consultation reported, surprise, surprise, “continued support for new river crossings in east London“.

Of course, a dodgy survey proves very little. You can offer children a year’s supply of sweets and they’ll take it, but if you warn them their teeth will fall out you might get a different response. In a similar way, you can tell people building a new road will make their journeys easier and they’ll believe it – particularly if you don’t tell them the evidence proves building new roads simply generates more traffic, add to existing high levels of pollution, and will simply add to congestion elsewhere.

Indeed, the leading question which kicked off the consultation gives the game away – “how many times a week do you cross the river by road?” 32% of Greenwich borough residents who answered the consultation said they crossed it four or more times each week – which strikes me as unrepresentatively high.

That said, the 373-strong petition against Silvertown features heavily in the round-up of responses to the consultation, though oddly doesn’t feature in TfL’s report to the mayor – a beautiful example of officials telling their bosses just what they wat to hear. There’s no mention of Greenwich’s Bridge The Gap campaign, an attempt to rig the consultation, except in quotations from the Silvertown petition.

What is striking, though, is Greenwich Council’s desperation to see this crock built – despite anger within the Labour party which supposedly controls it – with leader Chris Roberts declaring: “We stand ready to assist Transport for London in the work necessary to bring these crossings to the next stage of development.”

Greenwich’s neighbours, though, aren’t so excited. Here’s the views of other boroughs, as taken from the consultation.

Barking and Dagenham Council expressed “serious reservations regarding the current proposals. The Council remain concerned that Silvertown tunnel will draw additional vehicles and ‘clog up the local road network’”.

Southwark Council were “concerned that they may be potentially negative traffic impacts from the Silvertown tunnel” and “cannot support the current proposals.”

Lewisham Council:”has concerns that traffic impacts will result from Silvertown tunnel, particularly on the A2 and South Circular, and requests details of modelling of any proposed mitigation measures. ”

Hackney Council were “concerned about the potential highway impacts of increased traffic on the approaches to the Silvertown tunnel”

Redbridge Council “raised concerns with how the Silvertown tunnel’s northbound connected with the existing highway network.”

All the above are Labour councils, except Redbridge, which is run by a Tory/Lib Dem coalition.

These fears would impact the most on Greenwich itself, yet they are barely mentioned in Greenwich’s full response. Even Newham’s support for Silvertown was “subject to concerns over additional traffic impacts in the borough and in particular, around Canning Town and Royal Docks”. No such caveats in Greenwich’s response.

Indeed, if you look at the businesses that line up in favour of Silvertown, the you can see just who’s really influencing Greenwich Council’s line.

Berkeley Homes Ltd – “Strongly supports new crossings at Silvertown and Gallions Reach.” (Greenwich Council’s development partners at Kidbrooke Village, Royal Arsenal developers)

Cathedral Group – “Fully supports the proposed Silvertown tunnel.” (Property developer which owns Morden Wharf on the Greenwich Peninsula).

AEG – “Strongly supports Silvertown tunnel which will provide a much needed relief to the area, support AEG’s next development phases on the Greenwich Peninsula and stimulate growth.” (Owner of the O2.)

Quintain – “Strongly supports the proposals, in particular for the Silvertown tunnel.” (Greenwich Peninsula developer whose projects include the socially-cleansed Peninsula Quays site.)

A further report will come from TfL this summer, so expect our elected representatives to be issuing more propaganda and campaigning on behalf of the people of Greenwich property developers.

But there’ll also be more from the No To Silvertown Tunnel campaign – if you want to get involved, feel free to drop me a line. Watch this space…

73 replies on “Silvertown Tunnel: Neighbouring boroughs voice their fears”

  1. The Council, as I understand it, believes strongly that the tunnel is in the interest of local people. I happen to agree. How on earth can you suggest that the Council is trying to rig the consultation, simply for setting out, quite properly, its views? Still, I see that you are more concerned with attacking the Council than debating the issues properly.

  2. You don’t think Bridge The Gap, an attempt to persuade people to respond positively to the Silvertown consultation, was an attempt to influence its outcome?

  3. I’m very happy that you have backed down. Yes I agree with the word “influence” but you used the word “rig”. I take it you will now amend your original posting.

    This is the second time I have pointed out your tendency for incorrect exaggeration and hyperbole. You have an important contribution to make to the debate, so don’t ruin it by over playing your hand.

  4. Greenwich Council tried to rig the survey, Mark. It’s as clear as the air on Woolwich Road is mucky.

    Good luck with your application to become a Labour candidate.

  5. You really shouldn’t make accusations with no evidence; or produce it if you have it.

    And thanks for the good luck wishes! 🙂

  6. Rigging is to manipulate dishonestly. Since the Greenwich Council tried to pack the consultation with “yes” responses, without a full discussion of the issues, and even admitting there was no evidence of the tunnel’s benefits, I think we can say that Greenwich Council did try to rig the consultation in its favour.

  7. Yeah Darryl, don’t over play your hand on this site. If you want to overplay your hand get your own newspaper just like the council than it would be a fair fight.

    Good god the council doesn’t even know that they were influencing people with their little campaign that they get to promote in their own little newspaper.

  8. The consultation found a clear majority against introducing toll charges for Blackwall but the report to the Mayor rather glosses over this, disingenuously implying that the majority have accepted the principle of tolling.

  9. The council “believes strongly that the tunnel is in the interest of local people”. Some people believe that the earth is flat, it doesn’t mean it is. I expect a local council to act on evidence, not belief, and all the evidence shows that Silvertown Tunnel will lead to more traffic, more pollution and more deaths. Something which the council should take heed of since they will be judged on how they perform on air pollution related deaths in the Public Health Outcomes Framework.

  10. The reason why Blackwall Tunnel is environmentally damaging to the air quality is because it’s the only one of two crossings in East London (Rotherhithe as the other). If we had more crossings like West London does then traffic would not be high on any of the crossings.

    Silvertown won’t add to more traffic as it’s designed to remove the bottleneck, this will probably increase the vehicle volume using the A102 but at least it’s less likely that traffic jams will form. We all know stationary vehicles cause more pollution than when they are on the move. Traffic and Vehicle use is two different things!

    I hope the Thames Gateway Bridge gets built also to even the load. Bexley council does not like it because it more or less wants to keep a Kentish identity and I’m sure the A206 between Plumstead and Erith via Thamesmead is hardly used anyways.

  11. Yeah good point, that is a problem. Maybe TfL should be proposing a Road Tunnel from North Greenwich out to Falconwood. I think we on East London get a raw deal compared with West London.

  12. @Mark,

    Firstly – the council should not have a view on this based on feeling. The council should be neutral until it has both conducted (and published) a proper independent impact anaylsis, and sought the views of it’s constituents without trying to colour responses with their propaganda rag and other press campaigns.

    Secondly – this is not an independent mouthpiece. This is Darryl’s blog. As such he can publish what he likes. Is he held to a lesser degree of oversight than the council? Yes, as it should. Although actually – by having a comments section where both sides can put their views across – Darryl provides a far more democratic resource than our council ever have.

  13. @Mr Ree,

    An interesting definition of democracy. If you don’t like what the Council does, you vote against it. If you don’t like what Daryl does, tough. As it should be, but don’t pretend Daryl is more democratic than Council.

  14. I’m flattered that people find this website useful, and I hope it does provide space for an airing of local issues. Not sure with being compared to an organ of local government, but there you go.

    But for anyone to pretend that Greenwich Council, under the current leadership, does anything other than lip service to residents’ views, verges on the bizarre.

  15. And hear hear from me.
    Mark, we get one vote every five years. My vote is not won on a single issue but a variety of them.
    Your comment, “If you don’t like what the Council does, you vote against it” reeks of the arrogance that an in-built majority can bring.
    Why do you support the tunnel?
    Check back on some previous posts and you will see Darryl has provided evidence that the tunnel will bring more traffic and more pollution in an area that is already one of the most polluted in the country.
    And the survey that says a third of people who live in Greenwich cross the river by road more than four times a week? I think Darryl’s view that that is ‘unrepresentatively high’ is rather mild. I would say it was ‘utter bollocks.’
    What is your proposal to stop the traffic build-up to the Sun-in-Sands? The extra traffic generated by the new tunnel will means queues virtually 24/7.

  16. @ Mr Adams – I don’t think there’s any joy in comparing Greenwich Council Vs Darryl’s website. If I don’t like Darryl’s website I can just chose to never visit it or read it again. Rather harder to chose to ignore the effect of decisions of Greenwich Council when they affect people’s live in a very real way.

  17. I realise I may be in a minority here but personally I agree with Mr Adams and I will be voting against Darryl’s blog at the next election.

  18. Democracy is more than a trouble maker mouthing off on a blog. It’s hard and you rarely get credit – as the comments here demonstrate. Fortunately there are enough decent people prepared to serve their community by serving, not just writing blogs, despite the brick bats.

  19. The Greenwich response in this report equates to about 1% of the total population of the borough so “unrepresentative” is an understatement. The bias, as has been mentioned, is clear through the high volume of respondants who crossed the river very regularly during the week. There is nothing wrong with RGB having a view, but to force it upon the populace via the politically-biased Greenwich Time, complete with link, was outrageous.

    Additionally The London Assembly conference at City Hall, which I attended, was highly critical of the proposals especially with regard to the lack of hard evidence to support the claims being made, a point that most other London Boroughs, apart from Greenwich, made. The nature of that debate does not come across in the sparse description of the meeting in the report.

    By the way having written a blog myself in the past, I can atest to the fact that it is extremely hard work, unpaid and very time consuming if you are going to make it interesting – as this one is – and you also have to take the brick bats along the way!

  20. Chris,

    Well everyone can agree with you next May by voting Lib Dem. Good luck.

    I too was at the seminar you mention at City Hall so you won’t get away with your version of events.

  21. No need for that.

    This issue should be wholly non party political – it is too important for that. I would think every party has varied views on this issue – we know the Labour party does and so does the Lib Dems. While I am personally against Silvertown some of my colleagues are in favour for example.

    I am surprised what you say about the City Hall seminar. It was a reasoned debate but there was strong criticism of TFL and especially of the evidence base. Your choice of langiage “get away with your version of events” is pretty agressive by the way.

  22. @ ThePirateKing – spot on!

    and FWIW I agree with Chris Smith, there’s not really a need to be quite so aggressive as all that Mark.

  23. Well, Mark, if you’re expecting people to vote for you… shouldn’t you follow the stated view of the Greenwich & Woolwich Labour Party and oppose Silvertown?

    Incidentally, the London Assembly seminar is available to watch here: http://www.london.gov.uk/webcasts/19380/asx

    It features Kim Smith, Greenwich Council’s transport boss, calling the case for Silvertown “conjecture”. Chris just about nails it.

  24. As someone completely neutral to the Silvertown tunnel proposals (New Bridge equals easier way to cross river but also equals more traffic and pollution which might actually mean hard to cross river!), might I just say that Mark is trolling (albeit, probably not intentionally). For the uninitiated that is the act of posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

    Some quick examples:
    “I see that you are more concerned with attacking the Council than debating the issues properly”;
    “I’m very happy that you have backed down […] This is the second time I have pointed out your tendency for incorrect exaggeration and hyperbole”;
    “Democracy is more than a trouble maker mouthing off on a blog.”
    “We’re a little touchy tonight if that was aggressive!”;

    These are direct attacks, not debate. In any other forum it would warrant a warning; and if repeated, a ban. By all means have an opinion, but attack the *views* of other, don’t attack others directly.

  25. Mark. Given your position (and potential position) and your support for the Silvertown scheme, I’d like a simple answer to a simple question.

    What would you do to address the traffic build up on the A2 from the Sun it the Sands?

    I appreciate the suggestion that the tunnel creates a bottleneck of nose to tail traffic that a second tunnel would relieve, but this doesn’t address the lack of capacity on the A2.

    I would also like to see modelling evidence that demonstrates a reduction in polutants from the scheme.

    Are you able to satisfy either of these points?

  26. Traffic build-up and capacity on the A2 is not the only concern. I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer as to how traffic is even going to get to any new crossing over Gallions Reach, whether bridge or ferry.

    The LDP clearly states that the A205 and A206 are going to be downgraded through Charlton and Woolwich. If this is the case there will be additional pressure on the A102/A2 themselves and all local roads in the area. At the eastern side, how will traffic, and especially heavy goods vehicles, be diverted to reach Pettmann Crescent and Western Way on the approach to a new crossing here? I have been asking this for the eighteen or so months since the latest plans surfaced without any answer.

    This makes me fear for the future of Oxleas regardless of what is stated in the consultation documents. Any “aspiration” for a future tunnel linking the new bridge with the A2 at Falconwood has to be viewed with suspicion. Are we looking at a re-run of the early 1990s after the fact? By the time any bridge is built there will be pressure to push on with this new link – even if a tunnel through unmapped chalk mines and under ancient woodland is not affordable or achievable!

    It appears we have not been given the whole story. Are we not to be trusted with the full plans for significant road widening, compulsory purchases and pollution displacement/dispersal across what looks like the entire borough, and beyond? Where is the environmental impact assessment? Is there any traffic modelling? If there is, does it cover a wide enough area? Is this so people only see the good without the bad in the plans and vote in the “right” way?

    On another note, the Hyder Consulting feasibility report into a DLR extension to Eltham made it clear that it would be possible, although difficult, to achieve along the route of the A2 – at the expense of narrower road lanes. Apart from the other, rather obvious, stumbling blocks like capacity at North Greenwich, it looks to me like you cannot possibly have both a new tunnel (with implied lane increases) and a new DLR route…unless you were planning significant road widening to accomodate both.

    We’re not stupid – even if we are constantly treated as such. Give us the full facts and let us make up our own minds.

  27. Glad we’re back to debating the point in hand again.

    1) Yes, West London has far more bridges than East London: but they’re not all in the same place! Bottlenecks won’t necessarily be reduced unless new crossings are built in different locations.

    2) Despite the statistics on local support banded around by the council, the overwhelming majority of users of this new tunnel with not be from the borough. So you’ll have another tunnel in Greenwich built for the benefit of businesses and residents in Kent, who want to travel to Central London and the rest of the country; the same Kent nimbys who blocked the Thames Gateway bridge before. Quite how Greenwich and its residents benefits from the proposal is unclear.

    3) Looking at the numbers in the ‘Bridge The Gap’ propaganda, there seems to be some massaging of the actual number of river crossings anyway. According to Greenwich Council’s press release:

    ‘Between Central London and the M25 heading west there are 25 bridge crossings of the River Thames. From Tower Bridge to Dartford, there are just two.’

    Firstly, those ‘two’ only count bridge crossings, not the Blackwall or Rotherhithe tunnels (or Woolwich Ferry for that matter), so they’ve effectively halved the number of crossings in East London straight away. Seems odd to ignore road tunnels when their proposal is to build another one!

    Secondly, the 25 bridges ‘between Central London heading west’ actually include ALL Central London bridges up to Tower Bridge. So Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, etc are all included in the ‘West London’ list, which doesn’t seem right.

    Seems to me that the real figure is somewhere closer to five crossings in the East compared to around 14 in the West (excluding Central London). This might be a moot point given that this is still some difference; however it does highlight the council’s definite ‘spin’ on the issue.

  28. DB hits the issue nicely.

    The real problem is people from Bexley/Kent wish to use their cars to cross the river, but have no intention of allowing any of the disruption that would cause to affect them. (And yes, there are many problems with a Thames Gateway Bridge).

    So Bexley seeks to dump the pollution and congestion onto Greenwich (and, if you believe Bexley cllr Gareth Bacon, Woolwich).

    However, our elected representatives in Greenwich are not protecting us from this. Which is why Mark Adams, an ally of Chris Roberts who wishes to take up a Labour council seat, has taken so much stick.

  29. @Mark:

    “If you don’t like what the Council does, you vote against it.”

    Actually I don’t recall being given the opportunity to vote against this scheme in any election. I voted against Boris (partly) because of his support of it – but I don’t recall it being on any council manifesto. (prepared to be corrected on this).

    “Well everyone can agree with you next May by voting Lib Dem. Good luck”

    Of all your comments I think this says the most of the state of our council. Labour are never going to get outvoted here and we all know it – because most voting in on party not policy lines. And in effect you’re saying that gives the council the mandate to whatever they damn well like.

  30. “…..more than a trouble maker mouthing off on a blog…” quite.

    Keep up the good work Darryl.

  31. Dear All: I think we should all go round after school and apologise to Mark’s mum and see if he can come out to play again.

  32. I see that Mark has invoked the victim defence. Could not answer any of the questions so declares he is being attacked and scurries back to his bunker. See he did the same yesterday on Twitter with some airport guy.

  33. I think its a shame Mark has gone.

    I genuinely want to know how and why people think a tunnel to Silvertown will work and help the ‘Royal Borough’..

    If someone comes up with some sensible numbers — and not stuff like 34 percent of people in Greenwich cross the river in a motor more than four times a week — I will absolutely reconsider my stance against it.

    But as it is, the figures I’ve seen (and they’re here on this very site, just go back a bit) tell me all I will see is commuters/haulage companies from the outer areas and Kent polluting London’s already bad air and adding nothing to our local economy. EG – From the M25 to the Blackwall Tunnel, where can you stop to buy something?

    As I say, open for some real numbers.

  34. DB and Stewart both make some very good points. It is not Greenwich residents who will benefit from this, but it is Greenwich residents who will have to suffer the consequences of such a massive and disruptive scheme.

    The Oxleas Wood point is a good one. These big infrastructure projects tend to suffer from mission creep and usually lead to knock-on effects like more roads, demolitions etc, so the woods could well be under threat once more, which is just unacceptable for so many reasons, both social and environmental.

    New roads is backwards, 1980s thinking, they just bring more traffic and pollution, the whole thing is a stupid idea. Isn’t Greenwich already busy and polluted enough? Seems like the developers get whatever they want from the council, as ever a few individuals are making money at the cost of everyone else.

    Also, if the Council are already spinning the “facts” presented to the public, how are we expected to trust them with such a huge project? I just wish more councillors would act with their consciences and in the interests of those they claim to represent, rather than just acting selfishly along party lines.

  35. Thanks Joe. The threat to Oxleas is now very real.

    In TfL’s Assessment of Options document* they clearly state that a local bridge at Gallions Reach would “in the longer term […] provides the potential for the highway connections to be amended or improved over time, to best suit the prevailing traffic and regeneration needs of the area. For example, the connections to the strategic network could be improved in the long term, such as through the provision of a direct link to the North Circular together with a tunnel south to the A2. This could potentially address the local concerns about traffic on residential roads in Bexley by providing an effective by-pass, while delivering large journey time benefits to the wider area by providing a more easterly strategic orbital route. In time this could replace the Blackwall corridor as the main strategic route, and deliver benefits to regeneration in the Lower Lea Valley.”

    This doesn’t sound much like a “local” bridge to me.

    * 6.324 @ https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/rivercrossings/consultation/user_uploads/package-assessment-of-options.pdf

  36. All of which unanswered questions make it even more disturbing that *none* of our elected representatives who support the proposals will actually discuss the consequences of these schemes.

    And the one who wants to become an elected representative flounces off when challenged.

    How did we end up here?

  37. Exactly. I completely agree with Chris – I’ve yet to see anything to justify the tunnel in terms of tangible benefits to local residents, yet the council is backing the project and ‘encouraging’ all residents to do the same. People are driven by incentives, and it is troubling that the incentives driving the council to be so vocal in support of this are unclear.

    I only have to look at the last Greenwich river crossing to be constructed (the Mary Celeste cable car) and recent traffic management schemes (pretty much all the awful new roads and junctions on the peninsular) to know that TFL and Greenwich Council’s ideas for improving transport for Greenwich residents do little for me. However, these two examples are mere trivial annoyances compared to the increase in traffic, disruption and pollution that could be caused by this ill-advised scheme.

  38. @Penny 14 May

    I see it ends with: “Adams did not respond to a request for comment.” !!

  39. My massive fear – borne out by the Standard’s typically lazy reporting (Gallions in Greenwich?) – is that the row over TGB will allow Silvertown to sneak through.

  40. Hah, I was thinking the opposite.

    With an organised campaign against Silvertown, Labour backing, changes to the length of public enquiries and a government in search of infrastructure projects I think the chance to finally complete the Ringway may win out.

  41. Completing the Ringway(s) would mean digging up the old plans to tunnel under Blackheath, to drive a road through Grove Park, the Barrier Block in Brixton, etc.

    But there’s only a small campaign against Silvertown at present. There’s been a more recent, and far bigger campaign against TGB.

  42. True, although this time it does look like there may be more consensus across the political spectrum. If the campaign against Silvertown is small we have to do something about changing that.

    Just to be clear – I didn’t mean all the Ringways, just that one.

  43. It would be great to have a proper debate about the issues. This is clearly not the place – whenever I try, I just get attacked personally and the issues are ignored. I have a valid viewpoint – and it is shared by very many people – that can not be silenced just by questioning my motives.

  44. Mark – I think what you’re seeing as an attack is genuine frustration from residents over this matter. I appreciate that you have a viewpoint, but as one of those frustrated residents myself, what I want to know is WHY are the council supporting this project when there is as yet absolutely no data or study behind it to back up the purported benefits?

    I live here and have a genuine concern that this tunnel will lead to an increase in air pollution and, hence, have a harmful impact on the health of my children and others. Is it too much to ask that my local council, who are supposed to represent my interests, at least attempts to understand the consequences of this project before encouraging us all to get behind it?

  45. Thanks DB. And if everyone had like you restricted their comments to the issue itself, it would have been fine. Sadly it became a personal attack on me, both in here and on twitter, with my personal motives questioned. This is indeed a very important issue and I would have thought that opponents of crossings would welcome an open debate, not try to shut it down by shouting down opponents. Given the range of political forces that seem to be in favour of new crossings, I suggest that the only hope for opponents is indeed to try to win the arguments. Some of course are indeed doing trying to contribute positively and I welcome a debate that looks at the issues. The fact that I once worked as an advisor to the aggregates industry must be the weakest argument against additional river crossings!

  46. However the fact the crossings will lead to more congestion, more pollution and more deaths and the council has backed them without a shred of evidence to the contrary is a very strong argument against them.

    And no one attacked you personally, either on here or on twitter.

  47. Clare,

    As I have already said, I had my motives repeatedly questioned. It was indeed personal. Many people contacted me separately to say how shocked they were by the attacks on me personally. I understand from them that this is the way this little group works. Fortunately I can take it and will carry on promoting what I believe is right.

  48. Mark, you are to be congratulated on your fearlessness. Do you have any response to any of the well argued and very real concerns of the commenters on this post? I am sure you agree it would be a shame if such an important topic were derailed by constant discussion of yourself.

  49. Matk, welcome back to the fray.

    You are a born politician in that you thank DB for his/her pertinent questions (starting with the word WHY) and then totally ignore them.


  50. I’m shocked too by how this little group works (I’m talking about the Council, obviously). Any chance of answering the valid and politely phrased questions?

  51. Always amusing to see someone start up with ad hominem attacks, flounce off with a misplaced sense of victimhood, and then come back to claim he’s been attacked, welcome ‘a proper debate about the issues’ but fail completely to address any of the questions he’s been asked directly.

    Still, it’s probably true that calling someone ‘a trouble maker mouthing off on a blog’ is ‘actually just silly and not, after all, to be taken seriously’ – less a libel, more a badge of honour.

  52. Now that the drama has died down it would be great if somebody could answer my questions.

    For those that are now utterly confused, please see a precis of the most pressing at Mark’s blog – http://greenwichmark.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/lets-bridge-the-gap/ – although there are plenty more in the comments above, in 853s passim and at http://forum.greenwich.co.uk/threads/campaign-against-new-silvertown-tunnel-launched.4/

    I have plenty more but that’s probably enough to be going on with.

  53. So many interesting points being raised here. This may have been done already somewhere but is it worth using the post and comments above, plus the points raised on forum.greenwich.co.uk, to put together a ‘5 questions that need to be answered about the Silvertown tunnel’ type post/page? At the moment it is quite easy for proponents to drop in and selectively answer just the points they feel confident on, a ‘5 key questions’ list could be useful for focussing the minds, of opponents and those in favour alike.

    Apols if done already.

  54. And obviously 5 is a number I made up – who doesn’t like 5! – but other numbers are available.

  55. Fantastic debate. It’s almost like being at a council meeting. I’d like to propose the Freedom of the Borough for Darryl. Where on earth would we be without him?

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