The truth about Hammersmith Bridge

Stephen Greenhalgh writes

Hammersmith & Fulham is a beautiful residential borough defined by the Thames at its southern and western border. However, it would be helpful if Londoners could cross it once in a while. Instead, we now face 6 miles of uncrossable water. Hammersmith Bridge, owned by the council has been shut to motorised traffic including buses and ambulances for nearly 3 years. The Labour council leader is a talented storyteller and has concocted a work of fiction on the LBHF website that absolves his administration of all blame and instead has tried to blame the previous Conservative council despite a statement on the 2nd September 2016 that “it remains the case that there are NO issues concerning the structural integrity of Hammersmith Bridge under its current weight restriction.”  

The reality is that this Labour council is largely responsible for the Hammersmith Bridge omnishambles: The Labour Council did not do their bit in properly maintaining the bridge and lost the expert officer expertise since the collapse of Triborough and Biborough collaboration which was a grotesque act of municipal vandalism on their part.  It is also clear that the Labour Council’s political leadership have not made the reopening the bridge to cars and buses a political priority. The council do not care about the traffic gridlock in west London but see it as a way of stopping cars coming into their borough and making Hammersmith Bridge open only to pedestrians and cyclists. The council has refused to supply engineering reports for which we as residents have paid and refusing to share information with the opposition. The most recent is the Denton report is one along with the top secret structural engineering reports of 2014/15.

Added to this the Mayor of London has bankrupted TfL so that TfL cannot afford to pay for infrastructure works and Mayor Khan dissolved the London Bridges fund in 2016 to spend the money on other Mayoral pet projects. Dealing with Mayor Khan’s TfL was also frustrating. They insisted on repeating the bridge assessment work and cost estimates that we had done even though we had used a reputable consultant who had amassed a huge amount of structural data. They also insisted on continuing to run increasing numbers of heavier hybrid buses over the bridge.

The council still hasn’t agreed a costed plan to remediate the bridge fully. Instead the council has plucked a figure out of the air to carry out much needed stabilisation works so pedestrians and cyclists are able to use the bridge at the very least. The reality is that is the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and the Roads Minister, my colleague in the Lords, Baroness Vere, Chair of the government’s Hammersmith Bridge Task Force, who have had to step in to sort this mess out. The Labour council wouldn’t even have had Hammersmith Bridge re-opened to pedestrians and bikes had the government not intervened and funded 2/3rds of the costs as well as pledging 2/3rds of the  costs of its planned restoration and full re-opening by both funding 1/3rd directly and providing another 1/3rd to TfL.

It is the Conservative government that has insisted that the council fully re-open the bridge. All concerned have found the Labour council leader and H&F council a nightmare to deal with. Meanwhile, our main and local roads have become clogged up as a result whilst residents face another slap in the face with parking charges now rivalling the West End with hikes to between £5 and £6 an hour – up from £2.20 or £2.80. The streets and the parks are beginning to look scruffy and fly tipping has become endemic.

70 Tickets Per Day Issued on Hammersmith Gyratory

Tuhin Reynolds-Imam writes:

Every year, nearly a quarter of a million Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) are issued by
Hammersmith & Fulham Council (LBHF). That includes:

  • 92,000 in Fulham, SW6 to value of £10 million
  • 72,000 in Hammersmith, W6 to value of £8.5 million
  • 49,000 in Shepherds Bush, W12 to value of £5.3 million
  • 21,700 in Kensington & Chelsea, W14 to value of £2.2 million

But by far the single most risky location for drivers is the yellow box junction on the
Hammersmith Gyratory at Butterworth on the Talgarth Road. Drivers receive 25,000 tickets
a year here. That is 70 tickets every day.

What Types of Parking Tickets Do LBHF Issue?

Most tickets are for residents parking and other parking related offences:

  • 78,000 tickets – Parked in a residents or shared use parking place without clearly
    displaying a permit or pay and display ticket issued for that location (Code 12)
  • 22,500 ticket – Parked in a residents or shared use parking place displaying an invalid
    permit, invalid voucher or an invalid pay and display ticket (Code 19)
  • 14,700 tickets – Parked in a restricted street during prescribed hours (Code 1)
    But as well as tickets for parking, nearly a third of tickets are for moving traffic offenses,
    such as:
  • 62,000 tickets – Entering and stopping in a box junction when prohibited (Code 31)
  • 20,000 tickets – Being in a bus lane (Code 34)

What Is the Worst Time of Day to Get Tickets?

Nearly a quarter of all tickets are issued in the two hours between 9-11am as parking restrictions start to take effect each day.

But interestingly, tickets for Yellow Box Junctions (Contravention Code 31) appear to start at 7am and rise during the day and fall back to Zero at 10pm. We might think that the peak in yellow box junction tickets would be around the morning and evening rush hour, but it is in fact at 3pm.

You can see further details of when, where and what parking tickets you might get in Hammersmith & Fulham on the Proviser website at:

Top 5 Parking Ticket Hotspots in Hammersmith & Fulham

  1. Talgarth Road nr Butterwick, W6 (70 Tkts/Day)
    The yellow box junction here is followed by traffic lights for both the traffic going round the gyratory and traffic heading south on Fulham Palace Road. This means that it is extremely easy to get caught out and find yourself stuck. 70 tickets a day here measn that it is worth being extra careful. Don’t just follow the traffic onto the junction, make sure that you will be able to clear it if the lights change. It seems the afternoon and evening are the worst times for getting caught here with nearly 30% of tickets issued between 5-8pm
  2. New Kings Road nr Bagleys Lane, SW6 (44 Tkts/Day)
    The yellow box junction here catches 44 drivers every day. It is easy to misjudge the line of traffic ahead of you because the box is long and extends quite a distance past the entrance to Bagleys Lane. When the lights at Harwood Lane turn red the traffic forms a queue and you can find yourself stranded behind a stationary car. Also be careful if you are turning left out of Bagleys Lane onto New Kings Road. You can get a ticket if you stop on the junction even if you are turning left. The middle of the day seems to be the peak time to get tickets here with just under 40% of tickets in
    the 4 hours between 10am and 2pm Also, weekends are particularly bad, with 33% of tickets issued on Saturday & Sunday compared to 24% at Talgarth Road nr Butterwick junction.
  3. Shepherds Bush Road, W6 (33 Tkts/Day)
    The top half of Shepherds Bush Road has a bus lane on the Northbound side and the bottom half has one running Southbound. They look clearly marked and operate between 7-10am and 5-7pm Monday to Saturday. Nipping into the bus lane to overtake the line of car in front you is risky on this road with 8 cars an hour getting caught during the periods when the bus lanes are active each day.
  4. Harwood Road nr Effie Road, SW6 (18 Tkts/Day)
    This is a tiny yellow box junction on Harwood Road that lets traffic out of Effie Road. It looks harmless because it is so small, but beware it packs a punch with 18 tickets every day. The problem is that it is about 1.5 car lengths from traffic lights and so it is easy to follow the car in front and get stuck when the lights change. Oddly rush hour traffic doesn’t seem to get caught as much as during the day and in the evening. For instance, only 2.5% of tickets are issued at 8-9am whereas it’s 10.9% at 2-3pm. Perhaps regular commuter traffic knows to be careful here and those without local knowledge get caught.
  5. North End Road, SW6 (15 Tkts/Day)
    Most tickets on North End Road are for Bus Lane offenses with 12 tickets per day, but there are also another 2 per day for loading and 1 per day for parking on the single yellow lines. Two bus lanes one running north and another south each run along about a quarter of the length of the road. Both look easy to avoid, though the northbound bus lane has a small part where it stops and then restarts for another 10 yards. So, while most of the tickets are likely to be from drivers trying to overtake the queue, there may be some cars caught out between Castledown Road and the bus stop at Number 94. For the tickets issued for Loading/Unloading (Contravention Code 2), 56% are in the morning between 8-11am. Whereas tickets for parking (Contravention Code 1), are mostly issued after 12pm, with a dip in the two hours starting 4pm

To check other streets within H&F try:

A mighty bull – in a cage

The once mighty Hammersmith Bull is in a very sorry state. It sits outside the Black Bull Pub in Hammersmith, but this is now closed. The bull is trapped behind leaning fences and surrounded by decaying furniture with empty signage swinging in the wind.

Hamm Bull 1

The bull was brought to Hammersmith when the Black Bull Inn in Holborn was demolished in 1904. The enterprising work was done by Sir William Bull who became MP for Hammersmith. The family business was Bull and Bull and the bull stood on a plinth outside the offices.

I’m not sure who owns the pub premises – but I hope they take care of the bull. Or is there another enterprising Mr or Ms Bull out there who will provide the bull with a third home?

trapped bull

Photo credit: Stephen Benton,

How to give a screw-up a positive spin

Since Hammersmith Bridge closed a few weeks ago, the Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan, and Labour H&F Council have been arguing over who stumps up the cash to fix it.

Causing disruption to thousands, with the alteration of six bus routes, LBHF have come up with a novel way to address the problem – celebrate it!

They have put up large banners saying they are restoring Hammersmith Bridge to its full Victorian glory.   We need to celebrate the closure! Who knew? Ten out of ten for unabashed News Speak.D6_iiDmXoAI7o8w

Hammersmith Bridge – if you’re not prepared to take responsibility you shouldn’t be in power

Hammersmith Bridge is a major traffic artery for thousands of Londoners. A couple of weeks ago it closed indefinitely, without prior notice. The bridge is owned by Hammersmith & Fulham Council. TfL is responsible for its upkeep and maintenance.

H&F Council is a Labour Authority and the Mayor of London is a Labour Mayor.  Not wanting to criticise each other, look at the buck-passing that goes on.  Click here to see LBHF’s statement on the closure.

A major cause of the damage is high bus usage.  LBHF say “In 2015 we secured an agreement that there would never be more than one bus going either way at any one time. However, the bus companies consistently breached that agreement, ignoring our engineers’ warnings that this would cause a critical structural failure”. How were the bus companies meant to keep to this agreement? Have drivers semaphore from opposite ends of the bridge?  If this was a critical issue, it was up to LBHF to find a way to enforce it. Which they openly admit they didn’t do!

The cost of repairing Hammersmith Bridge has risen to at least £40 million. About TfL’s failure to make adequate repairs and to stump up the cash, LBHF say “We are sympathetic to TfL’s funding problems”. Effectively “please don’t blame them”.

LBHF continues “TfL has suffered an £800million cut to its budget and has had to pay for the refurbishment of Albert Bridge and Putney Bridge in recent years.”  Did TfL not realise that it was responsible for the Albert and Putney Bridges? Should Londoners send TfL some emails outlining what other bridges is it is responsible for in case they haven’t realised?

Meanwhile, over £43million was wasted on the failed Garden Bridge folly.” I am sorry – but not relevant. TfL accountants are monitoring and managing costs and risks over a whole variety of projects at all times.

LBHF’s entire statement is effectively “It’s not our fault and please don’t blame TfL either”. Well then who? Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? If you don’t want to take responsibility for managing vital infrastructure, you shouldn’t be in power.

Hammersmith Bridge Closure – forces change to 6 bus routes

Six bus routes used Hammersmith Bridge before its closure. That’s a huge number of people whose daily lives have been disrupted by Hammermith & Fulham Council’s failure to monitor and manage the Bridge properly.

This Saturday, TfL are implementing permanent bus changes to the area. The details of all of these changes can be found here. You can also provide comment on the changes.

Some buses now simply stop either side of Hammersmith Bridge with people advised to walk over. Others are rerouted in ways which will be entirely irrelevant for many users.  The bus traffic over Putney Bridge will increase dramatically with the frequency of the 265 increasing by 5 buses an hour in both directions and the 209 also rerouted to cross Putney Bridge.

When we condense traffic to a smaller number of major arteries, air pollution gets worse as traffic slows to crawling speed.

Publicly TfL and LBHF are cooperating closely to maintain that its not their fault that a bridge that they are responsible for has closed.  Let us hope that they are co-operating, as closely, behind the scenes, to get it back open.

First Greenhalgh H&F Mayoral Pledge: Reopen Hammersmith Bridge to cars and buses by introducing road user charges if necessary

Stephen Greenhalgh is seeking to become the directly elected Mayor of Hammersmith and Fulham.

Over one month has passed since the emergency closure of Hammersmith Bridge and both Hammersmith & Fulham Council and the Mayor continue to play the political blame game. H&F Council and TfL have had a “final report” on repair options for Hammersmith Bridge from their engineering consultants since the end of 2018. No plan to carry out the major works needed to reopen Hammersmith Bridge to cars and buses has yet been announced.

If I were the directly-elected Mayor, I would borrow the money to fix Hammersmith Bridge and set the borrowings against a road user charge for both buses and cars if TfL refused to stump up their fair share. The GLA Act allows both boroughs and the Mayor to levy road user charges.

I would look at two options:

  1. Full repair and restoration: Strengthen and repair of the existing bridge (and still maintain its listed status) so it could take modern transport. This would last 2-3 years and may only give the bridge an extra 30 years lifespan.
  2. Modification: Replacement with an independent structural deck. This has been done in the past when the steels of Hammersmith Bridge were rebuilt and deck replaced as part of the 1973 refurbishment. This would take the same length of time as the full repair and restoration option and could give the bridge an extra 60 years lifespan. The costs would be similar according to bridge architectural experts.

The toll would only be in the order of 50p for someone to cross the bridge by car for H&F Council to fund and then recoup the costs (this assumes 20,000 vehicles a day for 300 days – 6 million vehicle movements). For comparison a toll bridge in Bath charges 80p and Clifton suspension bridge charges £1. Hammersmith Bridge was a toll bridge originally.

Who is responsible for the Hammersmith Bridge omnishambles? Here is my view:

  1. H&F Labour Council have not done their bit in properly maintaining the bridge and have lost the expert officer expertise since the collapse of Triborough and Biborough collaboration.
  2. H&F Labour Council’s political leadership have not made the reopening the bridge to cars and buses a political priority. The council do not care about the traffic gridlock in west London but see it as a way of stopping cars coming into their brough and making Hammersmith Bridge open only to pedestrians and cyclists.
  3. The Mayor of London has bankrupted TfL so that TfL cannot afford to pay for infrastructure works included the major works needed to reopen the bridge.

Stephen Greenhalgh: Police challenged over the dramatic increase in knife crime in Fulham

Stephen Greenhalgh writes

Last night I was the last minute understudy for local Fulham MP and former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Greg Hands, to chair the local policing public meeting that he had convened at Fulham Broadway Methodist Church. The meeting was expertly opened and closed by Cllr Andrew Brown, the Conservative Opposition Group Leader on H&F Council.

This provided for Fulham residents with the opportunity to meet and question senior police officers from the Met responsible for neighbourhood policing in H&F. Both Simon Brooker, the new Chief Inspector for Neighbourhoods and Royal Parks, Central West BCU and John Childs, Inspector SNT H&F, answered questions for around 90 minutes after Inspector Childs had given a short presentation on crime trends in the 6 Fulham wards.

The public meeting was certainly timely. London’s knife crime epidemic has now hit H&F with two fatal stabbings this month alone: On 7th March Ayub Hassan, a 17-year-old boy from Shepherds Bush was stabbed to death near the Waitrose by West Kensington tube station and a 15-year-old boy has been charged with the murder. Then on 16th March Nathaniel Armstrong was a 29-year-old man who was stabbed to death just 100m from his Fulham home at the junction of Gowan Avenue and Munster Road. Chief Inspector Brooker informed the meeting that both these murders were drug related.

Knife crime levels are dramatically higher in all six Fulham wards and robbery is up significantly in 4 of the 6 wards. Here are the year on year increases presented by Inspector Childs:

Ward                                                     Knife Crime        Robbery

Fulham Broadway                                 +58%                 +41%

Munster                                                +1900%              +25%

Town                                                     +180%                 -3%

Parsons Green & Walham                    +67%                  +35%

Sands End                                             +60%                  -26%

Palace Riverside                                    +317%               +128%

Inspector Childs admitted that these percentages do exaggerate the levels of knife crime in SW6. For instance, the 1900 per cent increase in Munster is a rise from 1 to 20 knife crime offences. However many of the residents felt less safe enjoying the parks and some felt trapped in their homes as result. The police also reported that children going to school had become the target for knifepoint muggings in recent weeks. Residents called for more Bobbies on the beat to tackle this rising tide of violence in Fulham.

It is interesting to note that the police use of stop and search powers is far lower in Hammersmith & Fulham than in Kensington & Chelsea (1000 fewer) once you remove the 2900 carried out in the month of August for the Notting Hill Carnival.

There is also a 3% increase in burglaries in H&F vs a 4% reduction in burglaries in K&C. Inspector Childs also presented a slide that measured environmental, nuisance and personal anti-social behaviour using data from the council. During the discussion a local Fulham businessman reported that their business had suffered £2000 worth of criminal damage and they had captured the perpetrators red handed on CCTV. However, after several months he was told by the Met that this was no longer a priority crime and would not be investigated further. Under Mayor Johnson criminal damage offences were seen as a marker for anti-social behaviour and were one of the so-called MOPAC 7 priority neighbourhood crimes. This crime would have been investigated under the previous Mayor.

Chief Inspector Brooker reported that sexual offences were up +46% in the borough compared to a London average rise of 20%. This was the highest increase in London and most of these offences occurred behind closed doors as opposed to stranger offences which were down 20%.

Naturally a few tried to raise the drop in police numbers as a reason for the rise in crime. The police admitted that they were now recruiting very actively after the announcement by the Home Secretary of an additional £970 million for policing but apparently it has become very hard to recruit enough officers to the Met.

One member of the audience tried to suggest that the closure of Fulham Police Station was the main reason for the knife crime epidemic spreading to Fulham. This was roundly rejected by both officers. They preferred to deploy more neighbourhood police officers than holding onto old and underutilised police buildings. Fulham Police Station was only 35% utilised and cost £400,000 a year to run. Now it is the site of the new Fulham Boys School. Surprisingly Inspector Childs confirmed that the new Fulham police station front counter, that had been promised under the previous Mayor, would now not be opened following the decision of Mayor Khan to close 38 police front counters.

With the £60 million redevelopment of Hammersmith Police Station still underway nearly three years after I approved this major investment as Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, this means that only Shepherd’s Bush Police Station is open to the public. This is just not good enough and Fulham residents should have the front counter that they were promised.

Finally a series of the Fulham policing ward panel chairs spoke strongly in support of the local police and called for the public to get more engaged in helping the police to fight crime. Unfortunately the H&F Labour Council are unilaterally abolishing these policing-specific panels to create more diluted ones that cover all areas of council responsibility.

Charing Cross Hospital – Future Secured

There has been a rare outbreak of agreement between Conservative and Labour in Hammersmith & Fulham. Charing Cross Hospital is not closing.  Its A&E is not closing.

Here is the question and answer from Greg Hands, MP for Chelsea and Fulham, and Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health, that took place in Parliament yesterday:

Greg Hands: I have been a long-standing supporter of Charing Cross Hospital in Fulham, but I am concerned by the politicised rumours that have surrounded the hospital in recent years. Will he update the House on the “Shaping a healthier future” programme, which many of my constituents believe to be anything but healthy?

Matt Hancock: “Shaping a healthier future” is no longer supported by the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS Improvement or NHS England. The NHS will look at parts of the proposals that are in line with the long-term plan, such as the aspects that are focused on expanding the treatment of people in the community. As for the changes in A&E in west London that are part of “Shaping a healthier future”—for instance, those at Charing Cross Hospital, which he mentioned—these will not happen.

I am pleased to say, that what is different this time around is that the Labour MP for Hammersmith, Andy Slaughter, as well as local Labour Councillors also agree that this is the final confirmation that Charing Cross hospital is not closing.

Though I may disagree with its wording, now is not the time to quibble. What is important is the confirmation of this news from Hammersmith & Fulham Council. See here.

If more detail emerges about future plans I will post it here.  If you see anything that should be shared let me know!