Sarah Jones, the Croydon Central MP, has entered the growing row over the closure of the Blackhorse Lane bridge, and has demanded that Transport for London should pay compensation to local businesses for the delays in completing the repairs.
The 120-year-old road bridge, which crosses the tram tracks between the Blackhorse Lane and Addiscombe tram stops, has been closed to vehicles since August 2016, when safety concerns were raised over its structure.
TfL engineering assessments dragged on, and the repair and rebuilding works which were due to begin in 2017 did not start until this summer, with the promise that the road would re-open by early 2019.
But at Monday night’s full council meeting at the Town Hall, Stuart King, the council cabinet member for roads, announced that he had been informed by TfL that the bridge repairs, and therefore the closure, would now extend into 2020.
The bridge closure is doubly embarrassing for Croydon Labour. The bridge is in Woodside, the ward represented by Tony Newman, the council leader, and his big mate, Paul Scott. And just up the road from the bridge is the constituency office of Croydon Central MP Jones.
This week, Jones wrote to constituents, saying that the further delays are “totally unacceptable”.
“TfL claim that they are unable to locate all of the utilities running through the bridge, delaying the completion until 2020,” Jones wrote.
“This is totally unacceptable and we are doing all we can to stop this delay.
“Since the bridge was closed we have consistently been lobbying Transport for London to complete this job in a timely and professional manner. The impact the closure has had on local residents and local businesses along Lower Addiscombe Road and surrounding areas has been significant. Whilst we appreciate the work needs doing, unnecessary delays are costing the community.
“We are therefore calling on TfL to negotiate some form of compensation for the businesses who are most severely affected.”
Such compensation, if it ever materialises, will come too late for Leslie Fruiterers, the family-run business on Lower Addiscombe Road, which was forced to close earlier this year, blaming the traffic disruption and loss of trade caused by the bridge closures as an important factor in their demise. Other businesses, in and around Addiscombe and South Norwood areas, are also known to be struggling as a consequence of the bridge closure.
The situation has become so bad that even Newman has intervened. Sort of.
Woodside residents usually note that mere local issues are usually deemed to be beneath their £55,000 per year ward councillor.
But on social media this week, Blairite Newman actually bothered to respond to Council Tax-payers, saying that the further delays are “utterly unacceptable”, before then attempting to distance his council administration from the matter as much as possible.
“It is not a council project,” Newman wrote on a South Norwood Facebook page, “so the situation is not helped by a few local Conservatives playing party politics with it.” For Newman, identifying the shortcomings of his administration are clearly beyond the pale.
“We will endeavour to keep all informed when hopefully we have more details and better news,” Newman wrote.
Newman’s frankly feeble intervention was notable for his failure to mention Sadiq Khan, City Hall’s growing concerns over TfL’s budget, or any promise from the Croydon council leader to speak directly to the London Mayor about anything other than street art…
- Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
- Inside Croydon is the borough’s only independent news source, and still based in the heart of Croydon
- 1.4 MILLION PAGE VIEWS IN 2017
- “Monitored” by the council CEO since 2010
- ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS 2017: Inside Croydon was source for two award-winning nominations in Private Eye magazine’s annual celebration of civic cock-ups
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or a local event to publicise, please email us with full details at firstname.lastname@example.org