Neither the local London Assembly Member nor the MP for the area have taken part in an important public consultation on the future for bus routes 312 and 130. Steve O’Connell and Gavin Barwell are both Conservatives.
The two bus routes are set to return to Spring Lane Bridge next month after a long battle between Transport for London, Network Rail and Croydon Council over public transport services between Addiscombe, Woodside and Norwood Junction.
Spring Lane Bridge in Woodside was closed to buses in April 2010 due to the introduction of a weight limit and to allow essential engineering work on the creaking old bridge. To access the 312, residents in Addiscombe had a long walk to reach a bus stop, while journey times were lengthened considerably. The closure caused massive inconvenience to thousands of journeys every day, closing a road that links central Croydon, Woodside and Addiscombe to Norwood. The engineering works over-ran, and it was not until last year that the bridge was re-opened.
As TfL put it, “As the buses have been on diversion for over three years we have looked at usage over the diverted routes. While some new links have been established, overall, more passengers will benefit from the restoration of the original alignment particularly as they will have faster journeys on route 130… We are therefore planning to return both routes 130 and 312 to their original routeings via Spring Lane.”
The proposal will see the bus routes removed from Morland Lane and Woodside Green diversion, as illustrated by this TfL map:
Yet the two elected representatives, their generous wages both paid out of our taxes, were silent on this important matter which affects thousands of residents who use the two buses every day.
Barwell usually likes nothing more than to appear on national television to boast of all the various campaigns that he – or at least, the tea boy in his office – is running. Barwell doesn’t seem to realise that his attention-seeking data-scraping exercises have made him the laughing stock of the political classes.
What’s O’Connell’s excuse? The nation’s most over-paid local councillor (© the Daily Mail), was at one time was receiving more than £110,000 per year in allowances as a Croydon Councillor, London Assembly Member and for turning up for a handful of Metropolitan Police meetings.
Given his key role as a trusted adviser to London Mayor Boris Johnson at City Hall, where he is supposed to represent Croydon and Sutton, O’Connell has been utterly silent in the past weeks on transport matters, such as TfL’s massive hike in fares – it is now £12 for an off-peak one-day railcard – or the commuter chaos to rail services in and around London Bridge.
He’s not averse to using Twitter about his City Hall activity if it is in his party interest, such using pictures of himself when bigging up Stephen Greenhalgh (who?) as the Tory candidate to succeed Boris as Mayor (O’Connell is second from the right, below, in this rather uninspiring gathering outside City Hall).
But despite repeated requests from residents for a public comment on bus and Tube fare rises or the continuing commuter chaos, O’Connell has remained silent.
No, far more important to O’Connell has been to go on Twitter to ponder the identity of the next manager of Crystal Palace football club (where O’Connell has received more than a fair share of freebie tickets). Or to insinuate something terribly wrong about the absence of an obituary for the Duke of Wellington in The Grauniad (when in fact there was one. Finger on the pulse, our £110,000-a-year man).
And more important to O’Connell than the fate of thousands of Croydon and Sutton commuters during the London Bridge engineering works this week has been that of a wild boar and a royal pig. Seriously.
So it is perhaps no wonder that O’Connell, despite the generous allowances and expenses he receives as a councillor for Kenley and Assembly Member, has been completely silent on the matter of the bus route consultation.
According to the official report, both O’Connell and Barwell, as local elected representatives, played no part in the TfL consultation on bus routes 130 and 312, despite both of them being statutory consultees.
Barwell has claimed in the past to have lobbied on the issue. It affects the heart of two marginal wards in his Croydon Central constituency, Addiscombe and Ashburton, which played a key part in his Tory chums losing control of Croydon Town Hall last May, and it must have been an issue that has come up on the doorstep when he’s been canvassing.
So where was Barwell and O’Connell when it came to representing the residents who use these two bus routes? Barwell even has six publicly paid office staff to deal with this sort of constituency work for him.
If a significant local issue such as a TfL consultation can come and go without the MP or the London Assembly Member representing their constituencies, how can Barwell and O’Connell be relied upon to do their jobs properly at all?
Coming to Croydon
- Stop the Incinerator Public Meeting, Green Dragon, Jan 10
- David Lean Cinema, Leviathan, Jan 13
- Eagle Improv, Spread Eagle Theatre, Jan 14
- Norwood Society talk: Penge, the making of a suburb, Jan 15
- David Lean Cinema, The 78 Project Movie, Jan 15
- Child Aid Lanka foreign aid debate, Thornton Heath, Jan 15
- David Lean Cinema, Hannah Arendt, Jan 20
- David Lean Cinema, The Imitation Game, Jan 22
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
- David Lean Cinema, Night Will Fall, Jan 27 (Holocaust Memorial Day)
- David Lean Cinema, Kon-Tiki, Jan 29
- Soul Symphony Community Choir taster session, Feb 3
- Eagle Improv, Spread Eagle Theatre, Feb 4
- Tales of Love, Lost and Found, Spread Eagle Theatre, Feb 7
- Uninvited Guests, Spread Eagle Theatre, Feb 11-13
- Norwood Society talk: Crystal Palace and Dulwich, Feb 19
- Rosie Wilby, Spread Eagle Theatre, Feb 27
- Amy Wadge and Luke Jackson, Stanley Halls, Feb 28
- Holmes Alone, Spread Eagle Theatre, Mar 6
- Eagle Improv, Spread Eagle Theatre, Mar 11
- Iain Lee, Spread Eagle Theatre, Mar 14
- Norwood Society talk: Charlies Dickens in Norwood, Mar 19
- Eagle Improv, Spread Eagle Theatre, Apr 8
- Anatomy of the Piano, Spread Eagle Theatre, Apr 15
- Patrick Monahan, Spread Eagle Theatre, Apr 16-17
- Norwood Society: Balloons and airships at Crystal Palace, Apr 16
- South Norwood Community Festival, July 5
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