Mayor of London Sadiq Khan criticised by Tony Arbour AM

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has been accused “shirking responsibility” following the sudden closure of Hammersmith Bridge due to “critical faults”.

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Tony Arbour, City Hall member for Hounslow, Kingston and Richmond, insists the halt to its major refurbishment works is down to “mismanagement” of the transport budget and “reckless” policies.

He has labelled the indefinite closure of the Grade II* listed structure as “entirely unacceptable”.

“This is yet another transport infrastructure upgrade which has been cancelled on Sadiq Khan’s watch,” Mr Arbour said.

“Make no mistake, these failures come as a direct result of the Mayor’s mismanagement of the transport budget and reckless policies, such as his expensive and ineffective partial fares freeze.

“True to form, the Mayor has once again shirked responsibility, passed the buck and attempted to blame the Government for this abject failure. Londoners will see right through Khan’s attempt to blame others for his own mess.

“This is a grave situation which can’t be left to petty squabbling. We need decisive leadership and a genuine solution to be found.”

But the Mayor’s Office say council and transport bosses need sustainable long-term funding plans from Government to cover the huge costs, pointing towards budget cuts.

It comes as Transport for London say maintenance of the bridge is not its responsibility, but is working with the council responsible to identify a plan for its much-needed upgrade.

It was first opened in 1887 but requires continued reinforcement so it can manage the heavy load of motorised traffic.

“Safety is, of course, our number one priority,” a Mayoral spokesman said. “It is therefore right that Hammersmith [and Fulham] Council have taken the decision to close it to motor vehicles until the bridge has been made safe.

“Refurbishment work would require substantial further design work and funding, at the time as central Government has decimated council budgets and removed TfL’s operational grant for day-to-day running costs.

“Councils and TfL need certainty of a long-term steady and sustained funding arrangement from Government to allow London to cover the costs of its own infrastructure maintenance.”

Hammersmith Bridge was shut indefinitely on April 10 because of safety concerns after weekly checks revealed “critical faults”, prompting major travel disruption.

While it’s currently closed off to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians can still use it as Government budget cuts were blamed for its closure.

Richmond Council said it will try to get the bridge reopened as quickly as possible, and put diversions in place, but predicts it to be a huge headache for residents.

The Government has also stressed safety as a “key priority” for those using Hammersmith Bridge following the sudden announcement.

“The council will receive nearly £160 million this year to deliver services and look after key infrastructure as the local highway authority.

“In addition, we are providing Transport for London with £11 billion, between 2015 and 2021, to invest in key infrastructure projects.”

 

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