Residents on both sides of the bridge have been let down by both Sadiq Khan and Labour controlled H&F with neither of them taking responsibility and both being evasive about the sudden closure of the bridge.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has stated on numerous occasions “Hammersmith Bridge is owned and managed by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham”. In a recent update, Labour-run H&F tried to duck any responsibility for the bridge, “The 132-year-old Hammersmith Bridge is part of TfL’s strategic road network which they have responsibility for maintaining”.
The need for urgent repairs has been known for years but Labour has failed to deal with the issue. “Hammersmith and Fulham Council claim that the bridge has suddenly had to be closed due to safety concerns, yet the council has for many years arrogantlyv refused to publish any information about the structural state of the bridge” Caroline Pigeon Liberal Democrat London Assembly and Chair of the GLA Transport Committee.
Caroline Pigeon has for years doggedly challenged both the Mayor and H&F. She has raised numerous questions of the Mayor on this matter, 8 times 2017, 7 times 2018 and once in 2019. In November 2017 under Freedom of Information she requested that H&F publish the results of the structural survey. H&F response was; “survey results will not be published due to the sensitive nature of the information which may affect the security of the bridge”. She followed up this refusal with a personal letter to Stephen Cowan and further questions to the Major, again no information/answers were forthcoming.
Back in 2014 H&F recognised that the Bridge needed urgent repairs “the condition of the bridge is very poor due to wear and tear and the life expectancy of the paintwork, lighting and the timber deck have long expired”. In H&F cabinet paper of 2014, it was proposed that the work commenced in 2015 at a cost of £25m with £23.5m being funded by TfL and £1.5m by H&F. H&F have never been forthcoming with any explanation for the failure to commence the works in 2015.
Since 2014 the costs have escalated, estimates in November 2018 were £36m and more recent estimates suggest the figure could be as high as £40m.
Given the performance of both Labour run H&F and Labour’s Mayor on this issue, residents should expect that this ongoing saga will not be resolved in the near term.