Oral Update to the Mayor's Report (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
June 20, 2019
Question By: 
Tony Devenish
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Thank you for much in that update, Mr Mayor.  I am just going to see if there are any responses from Members who put in a matter for you and I will then go on to picking up the announcement of the retirement of the Fire Commissioner.


Mr Mayor, can I just come back to you about my update?  I want to thank you for meeting the elected councillors yesterday from a group of about 10 schools representing 4,200 children.  They had done some work in preparation to coming here to City Hall to see us.  They did a word cloud and the biggest space taken out by that word cloud was about crime, feeling unsafe and wanting to be able to walk on their streets.


Will you really hear what I am saying and will you look to see if there is any more that you can do about reassurance, particularly in those areas where we have seen such a lot of crisis at the moment?  There is no reply.  I just wanted to forward that on to you because we sometimes miss the need to do more about reassuring our residents and reminding them that London is a safe city, their city, and they really cannot give up the streets to criminals.  I hope you have taken that on board.


Can I call Caroline Russell AM?  Do you want to come back to anything you have just heard?


Caroline Russell AM:  No.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  No, you do not.  I know Assembly Member Devenish does.


Tony Devenish AM:  Thank you, Chair.  Good morning, Mr Mayor.  On Hammersmith Bridge, I appreciate there is lots of work going on, but for two and a half months it has been shut.  You have basically said this morning that it will be four months before we have a way forward.  This is a really key bridge.  Can we try to bring that date forward so that we will be able to know what needs to be done?  This is the number-one issue for my residents.


Oral Update to the Mayor's Report (Supplementary) [1]

Oral Update to the Mayor's Report (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I bet it is.  I can give you the commitment that TfL and the Council are going as fast they can.  I will reflect back to them your comments that if they can go even faster you would appreciate that.  The key things to do the work in relation to what proposals and options there are going forward with a cost as well, but I hear you loud and clear and I will pass that on.


Tony Devenish AM:  Thank you.  You mentioned Clean Air Day today, which I totally support.  You appreciate that the additional traffic congestion on this route will be damaging air quality on both sides of the bridge.  What work have you have done on that and how can you mitigate that in the meantime?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  What you are referring to is displacement.  A lot of traffic is being displaced, but also some of the buses that were crossing that bridge are now not being used by the passengers and they are using other forms to get from one side to the other.  TfL is monitoring the displacement that has taken place since the bridge was closed.  You will be aware and you have made representations in relation to bus routes and making sure they are fit for purpose.


TfL is also speaking to Wandsworth Council.  I mentioned Richmond, and Hammersmith and Fulham, but other councils further away from the bridge are also affected and you are right to remind me - and TfL knows this, by the way - of the impact of displacement.  They will continue to monitor it.  If, for example, last night’s public meeting leads to further good ideas, TfL can follow up and will do so.  You have heard from my answer TfL’s receptiveness to further public sessions because often the best ideas come from the residents, who know their community the best.


Tony Devenish AM:  OK.  Thank you for that.  On your other update on the Royal Borough [of Kensington and Chelsea], I was at the public meeting, the largest public meeting on this cycle highway that I have been to in my entire time as an Assembly Member or indeed a councillor.  I do not want to be rude about TfL but it has this scheme wrong.  The Royal Borough is not anti-cycling.  It really wants to work with TfL to come up with new scheme.


I would urge you, please, to go back to TfL and to work with the Royal Borough.  It is very keen to have more cycling and safe cycling in the Borough, but literally 99% of the people in the room were vehemently against this scheme.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chair, I find it astonishing that the Assembly Member, halfway through a consultation process, would pull the rug from the process being completed.  What about those who responded who did not come to the meeting?  What about those who have been the victims of being run over by a car, either pedestrians or cyclists, who did not come to the meeting?  The whole point of the consultation is to hear all the views and then form a view.  It is astonishing, frankly, for the Council to pull the rug during the consultation.  Lots of money has been spent.  Lots of time has been spent.  You would have thought that a sensible council would want to hear all the views and then reach a view.  I find it remarkable, frankly speaking, and that is not a compliment.


Tony Devenish AM:  OK.  They are an amazing Council and I hope you will work with them and I will leave it there.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  OK, we are going to stay with the same subject and I am going to bring in Assembly Member Arbour.


Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  Thank you very much.  Mr Mayor, no doubt you are aware that in 2011 when the Hammersmith flyover failed, the thing was fixed within six months.  It was seen as a matter of supreme importance and TfL fixed it and there was a sense of urgency.


There is a feeling amongst the locals - and locals, as you rightly say, not just in Richmond and Hammersmith but Hounslow as well and indeed Wandsworth - that there does need to be firm action of the type that was taken when the flyover was fixed.  They fear that improving the bus routes is simply a sticking-plaster.


I have attended two public meetings on the matter and you have mentioned taking suggestions from local residents.  The most popular suggestion from the residents at the public meetings that I have attended is that in the short term a Bailey bridge should be erected on the site.  Can I ask, please, that you direct TfL to take that proposal seriously?  I formed the opinion at the public meeting that TfL thought that maybe this was a bit frivolous.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chair, the Assembly Member’s idea was one I also suggested and so it cannot be frivolous.


Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  Good.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  In the experience I had, which was just from a previous life as a Transport Minister when we had the floods a few years back, the Army went in and built a temporary bridge, which enabled residents get from one side to another during the floods.


TfL is exploring that.  The lay response I have received - and they will be exploring this further - is that it is an issue of land availability on both sides of the river.  Can I reassure you?  That is not a frivolous idea but there are challenges in relation to land acquisition.  All good ideas will be followed up.  I sincerely meant what I said.  Good ideas from the residents will be pursued.  Often residents have the best ideas.  I am told there are challenges with the land, but that is being looked into.


Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  Thank you very much.