With The Future of Hammersmith Bridge Now Uncertain, Richmond's Lib Dem Council Continues to Say "Not Our Problem"
Transport for London have announced their emergency budget for 2020/21, and as a result have paused works on Hammersmith Bridge. This leaves no definite plans for the essential stabilisation works, and no timeframe for the reopening of Hammersmith Bridge. There are funds for a temporary bridge, which at the moment is planned only for cycling and walking. However, there have been delays to the planning application for the bridge, and it is unlikely to be ready until 2021.
Nicholas Rogers, Conservative London Assembly candidate for South West London, including Richmond Borough, said, "Shaun Bailey and London Conservatives have been sounding the alarm on TfL's finances for years. The Mayor ignored their warnings and now Richmond residents are sadly paying the price. His ill-advised tourist fares freeze, his refusal to tackle wasteful spending and debt, and his inability to grow the network all meant that Transport for London would have struggled to weather any crisis, let alone something on the scale of the coronavirus pandemic. His failings have now led directly to major projects - such as the Hammersmith Bridge works - being delayed or cancelled.
"To me, this all absolutely shows the importance of having a Mayor and assembly members who are able to hold adult conversations with the Government, to make things happen for Londoners; something Sadiq Khan has repeatedly shown himself incapable of doing."
Cllr Paul Hodgins, Richmond Borough Conservative Group Leader and Councillor for Barnes, said, "We are of course in unprecedented times. But the delay in planning for Hammersmith Bridge and inaction by Richmond Council has led us here. When I was Council Leader, I made an offer to Hammersmith and Fulham to take over control of the bridge and its allocated resources. That would have given us direct involvement in the planning with TfL and the Government, and we could have ensured we were well on the way to repairing the bridge by now. Bizarrely, Richmond's Liberal Democrats revelled in the fact that they wanted no responsibility for the bridge, even though it impacts our residents much more than Hammersmith and Fulham's.
"I am afraid we are now dealing with a practical consequence of Brexit singularly dominating our politics for the last four years, including our local elections. Richmond Borough's Liberal Democrat Council and the local Liberal Democrat MPs are now regarded as an irrelevance in City Hall and Westminster following the election in December, and have no seat at the table for making things happen. Nor, in fact, do they really want it. Protesting issues is much easier than having responsibility for them.
"Local elections matter, independent of what is happening nationally. This is a prime example of why they do."