Posted: 18.03.21 at 17:05 by Sian Bayley, Local Democracy Reporter
The fallout from the closure of Hammersmith Bridge rumbles on, with residents in Barnes effectively cut off from the north of the capital. On Wednesday night Richmond Council hosted a community conversation session with residents to update them on the latest on the bridge. Here’s what we found out.
The ferry service is unlikely to be up and running until mid-summer.
Cllr Gareth Roberts, leader of the council, said he didn’t know exactly when the ferry would be up and running, but said it would be unlikely before mid-summer.
This is because the tender process has only just been finalised by Transport for London, who will be announcing who has won the contract in the next few days.
After this the licence has to go through a statutory hiatus of about ten days for bidders who were not successful to challenge the decision.
Then permission has to be sought from the Port of London Authority and the Marine Management Organisation, who say this could take 13 weeks.
“Now we hope that they are going to be able to move far quicker than that,” said Cllr Roberts.
“We were hoping to have this thing up and running by spring but it could be mid-summer.
“Everybody wants to get the ferry going as quickly as we possibly can and we can only apologise that there have been so many delays.”
Cllr Roberts said there is a minimum contract for a year for the ferry, and it will be reviewed again going forward.
The ferry is likely to cost £1.55 per ride, but will work with the hopper scheme and those with Freedom Passes or Under-18 Oyster Cards will be able to use it for free.
Walking and cycling will be given priority.
In response to residents’ concerns that they can’t even walk or cycle across the bridge at the moment, Cllr Roberts confirmed that walking and cycling will be “given priority under any scheme that happens”.
Some members of the public raised the recent AECOM and Fleck reports, which suggested that the bridge could be reopened to pedestrians and cyclists safely.
Cllr Roberts said these were desktop reports that were not completed on site, but stressed that a further report is coming forward that will be analysed again by the Taskforce to see if the bridge can be reopened to them.
He defended Hammersmith and Fulham council for not releasing their report, explaining that there were “security concerns” if they did so.
Someone might be able to work out how best to blow up the bridge if given a detailed report about its weak spots, for example.
Help for Barnes businesses.
Residents expressed concern about Barnes businesses losing trade because of the lack of footfall through the area due to the bridge closure.
Cllr Roberts said the council would be looking at what support the council can offer them through its economic development team.
Sir John Ritblat and Foster + Partners proposal “a potential goer”.
The proposal for a temporary double-decker crossing was described by Cllr Roberts as “innovative.”
The structure would be built above the existing road deck featuring a lower level for pedestrians and cyclists and an upper level for cars and buses.
Cllr Roberts stressed that a feasibility study is still being conducted on the proposal and needs to get Historic England and the Victorian Society on board.
Nevertheless, he said: “At the moment from the limited amount of information that we’ve had shared with us, and that we can put in the public domain, it does look as though it is a potential goer.
“It certainly seems to be far more of a reasonable proposition than other temporary structures that we have had suggested from other agencies and other practices.”
He added: “If I was a betting man I would put this one as being slightly better than evens as getting off the ground at the moment, but as soon as we get the feasibility report presented to us at the Taskforce then we will be able to give far greater clarity, and I would be delighted to get this one off the ground.
“It seems to be a very reasonable proposition insofar as what it suggests it can do is deliver both vehicles and pedestrians and cyclists across the bridge more quickly and more cheaply.
Because, what the idea is, is that parts of the bridge would be taken away and sandblasted and buffed and polished and then brought back, so that there aren’t the safety implications of doing all this work on site.
“They effectively take all these huge pieces of cast iron away, do all the work that’s needed, and then come back and replace them in situ. This apparently makes it cheaper and it makes it quicker, so I hope it’s going to happen to be honest.”
Richmond will ask TfL about moving Barnes railway station to Zone 2
Residents said moving the station to Zone 2 or Zone 2/3 would help to reduce costs for commuters as they begin to return to work this year.
Cllr Roberts said he was “happy to ask” TfL, but said it was probably unlikely they would agree because they have lost a lot of money this year, and it would be financially difficult for them to justify this.