Since no action has been taken after my previous email to the Network Rail CEO and site meeting with Network Rail and Volker Fitzpatrick I again wrote to David Higgins (CEO of Network Rail), Rupal Patel (Head of Community Relations at Network Rail, Chuka Umunna (Local MP), John Larkinson (Acting Director, Railway Planning and Performance for the Office of Rail Regulation), Ian Prosser (Director of Railway Safety at ORR), Lambeth Council Roadworks Hotline, and the Councillor Steve Reed (the Head of Lambeth Council and Ian Raxton (HM Principal Inspector of Railways at ORR).
I wrote to you all eight days ago regarding the bridge works at Streatham Common station in South West London. I had hoped to alert you to the fact that your works will not only do irreparable harm to the local economy, that the junction layout on the Streatham Vale side of the bridge was deeply unsafe, and that no genuine effort had been made to communicate your plans to the local community.
Very sadly a number of you have not directly responded to the email and those that did seem to think the site meeting would be enough to allay my concerns. Despite my meeting with two representatives of Volker and one from Network Rail, one week on absolutely nothing has been done to better communicate the closure plan, or to make the junction safer. In the meantime one serious accident, two minor accidents and numerous near misses have occurred on the junction.
The card shop in Streatham Vale report their trade has fallen nearly 50%, the as yet unopened spa on the Greyhound lane side of the bridge has been told she will be unable to obtain a gas supply for 8 weeks as a result of the works and the three local estate agents have lost two rental sales, one purchase, and a three renewals between them – all attributed to the bridge works.
The on-site meeting was very poor indeed, no discussion of the communication plans were possible. Volker’s representative was forced to admit he had failed to conduct a risk assessment for pedestrians, despite removing four pedestrian crossings from a four lane junction directly outside the third busiest station on the Southern network, and very surprised to discover that the road traffic was a source of passing trade for local businesses. He was, however, very keen that I understood that Volker had only done what was legally required of them.
“We have committed to keeping local people informed through an enhanced communications programme including leaflets and information on the council’s website.” – NR representative at the public meeting.
Not even the simplest steps, such as printing a poster and placing it in the frames at the local station have been taken. No signage has been placed on the local roads, no leaflets have been distributed, nothing but a corrupt excel spreadsheet exists on the Lambeth Council website, and only a meaningless press release has been placed on the network rail site (this on the 9th of October, 3 weeks after works started).
Businesses were only given ten days notice of the closure, basically they were informed at the point the road works started, only four days notice was provided for the public meeting, and even Lambeth’s planning notice lists the 1st of November as the deadline for objections to be raised – the day the bridge will be closed off completely. No information is available about the 7 full weekend closures that we will experience.
I would like to request a formal explanation from David Higgins as to how this clearly incompetent plan came to pass. I would also like to request that John Larkinson investigates Network Rail’s level of competence regarding this matter as it appears every consideration has been given to Southern’s, economically motivated, desire not to extend the platform in the opposite direction, but no effort has been made to consult with, or even asses the impact of these plans on the Streatham economy or the local community.
I ask that you take immediate action to suspend the closure of the bridge until a competent plan can be put in place and the local community properly consulted.
Resident of Helmsdale road Streatham Vale