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:
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Yes I agree. Using a road toll to fund bridge repairs is an excellent way forward and equitable too.
I am concerned that few of H&F Labour ‘s core voters are inconvenienced by the bridge closure, and so the bridge is being kept closed partly for political reasons: “The awful Tory government have cut our funding – this is the result”. It is the new Charing Cross Hospital. And isn’t King Street so much quieter without all that nasty traffic?
The closure of this bridge is embarrassing and pitiful. It is what happens to a great city in decline – things fall apart.
There’s nothing equitable about charging motorists to use the roads that they’ve already paid for several times over through their road taxes. This is just stooping to Ken Livingstone’s level.
If government in Northern Ireland can, as Lord Maginnis reports, pay £10,000 to a civil servant who’s offended by a portrait of the Queen, then there must be lots of slack in public finances. Sadiq’s police can’t remove climate hooligans from blocking streets to emergency services but can apparently dance with them, that is when they aren’t running LGBT surgeries instead of catching burglars and knife-criminals.
I bet economies could be made relatively pain free. I would look at scrapping the GLA as a hive of PC and a thoroughly superfluous level of government. Give its residual responsibilities to the boroughs as in the Eighties but insist that LBH&F delivers the goods.