Pigs and dead dukes more important for O’Connell than TfL

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.

312 bus East CroydonThe 312 runs between South Croydon, via East Croydon, to South Norwood. The 130 runs from New Addington to Norwood Junction.

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:


Consultation map bus 130 312

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).

O'Connell 1

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).

O'Connell 2

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.

O'Connell 3So 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.

This issue was contentious. If the responses in the report are to be believed, there was a case for maintaining some service along Morland Road.

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

  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at inside.croydon@btinternet.com

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in 2015 General Election, Addiscombe West, Ashburton, Boris Johnson, Commuting, Croydon Central, East Croydon, Gavin Barwell, Kenley, London Assembly, Mayor of London, South Norwood, Steve O'Connell, Transport, Woodside and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Pigs and dead dukes more important for O’Connell than TfL

  1. It’s sad that our representative in City Hall seems so disinterested in this matter.

    The Greater London Assembly’s “Transport Committee examines all aspects of the capital’s transport system in order to press for improvements for Londoners. Its remit includes: mainline rail, the Tube, buses, trams, taxis and minicabs, walking, cycling, roads, and issues such as congestion, transport safety and transport sustainability. The Committee pays particular attention to how the Mayor’s Transport Strategy is being implemented, and looks closely at the work of Transport for London and other transport operators.”

    Its members include, er, Steve O’Connell.

    Back in 2011, he put out a press release about getting TfL to abandon plans to cut part of the 312’s route, between the South Croydon bus terminus and the Swan and Sugarloaf pub. “It’s a victory for common sense and it’s a victory for people power. I’m very pleased with the result and thank Boris for this help”, O’Connell said at the time.

    So, why hasn’t people power and common sense been victorious this time? Why the silence? Has Boris said no? Has he even been asked? I think Steve owes us an explanation.

Leave a Reply