Response from Chuka Umunna

I received this response from our local MP. Unfortunately the email is factually incorrect and they clearly haven’t read the documents linked to in the email. Sigh.

While I appreciate MP’s are busy people, but their job is to represent the local community in government and despite sending a representative to the public meeting Mr. Umunna has not engaged on the issue personally or seemingly done anything to hold Network Rail and Lambeth Council to account for their incompetent handling of the bridge closure.

  • His email refers to Network Rail delivering 12,000 leaflets within a 1km radius, in fact they are supposed to be delivering 20,000 leaflets within a 2 mile radius of the station. Of course it’s taken six weeks since the roadworks began to do this and, as I discovered today, some of the information contained in the leaflet contradicts information provided by Lambeth Council.
  • The email states that he has pressured Network Rail to improve communications – this has obviously been very effective. Six weeks, one flyer, no posters, no signs, no communication with local businesses.
  • He links to a page containing Lambeth’s traffic management spreadsheet – this is a 600 row Excel spreadsheet – apparently this is supposed to be useful information, his email also directs us to an email address that no one is responding from and two further links which haven’t been updated since the 9th of October.

No doubt this is what Mr. Umunna considers helpful to residents and businesses.

Thank you for contacting my office about the works to Streatham Common station and the resulting closure of the Greyhound Lane road bridge. I am writing to provide you with an update on the latest information I have received from Network Rail and Lambeth Council about this matter, and to let you know that I have recently contacted Network Rail again both to follow up on some of the action points agreed at the 4 October public meeting and to ask some further questions following concerns that have continued to be raised with me by local residents and businesses.

In response to questions about improving their written communication to residents and local businesses, Network Rail are distributing a leaflet at the train station with information about the works, the bridge closure and traffic diversions, and the shuttle bus route replacing bus services. They have advised that this will also be delivered to homes and businesses in the surrounding area. They informed me that this would initially focus on those within a 1km radius of the station and then extend outward from there, and that they planned to deliver approximately 12,000 of these. As I am sure you are aware, the written information that Network Rail told us they had delivered to the local area back in August did not reach many households and businesses, so I have continued to raise questions about how they will ensure communications are improved and local people are kept up to date about the changes. If you or any of your neighbours do not receive their latest leaflet, it would be useful if you could let me know.

I have also been informed that a date has been set for the second public meeting about this: 6 December 2012 at 7pm at Granton Primary School. I understand that representatives from Network Rail, Lambeth Council, Transport for London and Southern Rail are being invited to attend and answer questions from the public. I have asked Network Rail to come back to me with further details of the meeting as well as how they will be publicising this to local residents and businesses.

In my letter to Network Rail I asked about how they would be following up on the suggestion of residents at the public meeting that the shuttle bus should run every 10 minutes rather than every 15 or 20. The latest information I have received is that they are currently monitoring the use of the shuttle bus and will then decide whether to increase the frequency of the service based on this. I expect to receive an update on this when Network Rail respond to my latest letter so hope to have more information on this soon. I also raised the continuing concerns residents have brought up about travel to school and GPs’ surgeries, and the serious traffic safety concerns that have been raised. I also remain very concerned about the impact of the project on local businesses and have raised this again in my latest letter to Network Rail.

Lambeth Council and Network Rail have provided the following information about the works which is available online:
Information on the nature and timescale of the works: http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/Services/TransportStreets/RoadsHighwaysPavements/TrafficManagementAct.htm
Dedicated email address set up by Lambeth Council for questions and concerns about the works: Streathamcommonstation@lambeth.gov.uk
Network Rail have a page on their website which I am informed will be updated with further details as the works continue: www.networkrail.co.uk/improvements/streatham-common/
Lambeth Council News item on the works with further information and links embedded: http://lambethnews.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/warnings-over-traffic-delays-in-streatham/

I will be in touch again when I receive a response to my latest letter to Network Rail, but if you would like to get in touch in the interim, please feel free to contact me on the details below.

Yours sincerely,

Chuka Umunna

My response to the email, no doubt it will take another four weeks to get a reply.

As I indicated on the telephone this email is a very poor response and is factually incorrect in a number of respects, you clearly haven’t read the documents your own email links to. Your office has taken absolutely no action about the safety concerns over the vale junction, the possibility that the platform could be extended in the opposite direction, Network Rail’s thoroughly incompetent handling of the matter or the appallingly slow response of the agencies concerned with the works.

In the last month I have managed to meet with Network Rail, Volker Fitzpatrick and Lambeth Council twice, get ORR safety inspectors to the site (who agree the junction layouts are unsafe), raise the matter personally with the under secretary for transport and get a response from Network Rail regarding compensation for local businesses.

I had hoped your office would work with the local community on this – instead you have done nothing but write some emails. You did not even have the courtesy to show up to the hastily arranged public meeting in person and your staff clearly lack a grasp of the issue.

I suggest you read the bridge blog and catch up https://streathambridge.wordpress.com/

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