1 June 2021
Since September 2020, I have been working with all stakeholders to find both a temporary and long-term solution to the closure of Hammersmith Bridge. To date, the Government has provided funding for a temporary TfL-run ferry service, funded blast cleaning and visual inspection of the two western pedestals giving London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham (LBHF) a better understanding of the overall condition of the bridge, and supported efforts to increase the number of river transits. My officials have provided considerable support and guidance to yours on developing a business case and funding proposals and sought to assist in driving progress on the project, while recognising that decisions on the Bridge remain a matter for LBHF as asset owner.
We continue to assist but there are significant elements of the project where in put from my Department is dependent on LBHF addressing the very substantial gaps in the information you have supplied to us. I am writing to set out my expectations for how LBHF will address these gaps, along with other next steps, to avoid any further unnecessary delay in reopening the Bridge, both on a temporary and limited basis this summer and more permanently at the earliest possible date.
Government funding commitment as part of the new TtL funding settlement The Government has today announced the terms of its next funding deal with Transport for London (TfL). This includes a commitment to part-funding a solution to the repair of Hammersmith Bridge. The deal sets out that the Government will commit to directly contributing up to ⅓ of the total funding for the project, on condition that both LBHF and TfL do the same. You will need to find your ⅓ share of the costs in whatever way is most prudential for your budgets. A contribution from the local authority is a standard requirement for local roads projects, and the size of the local contribution takes into account a number of factors and may vary quite significantly. The conditions of funding set out in the TIL extraordinary funding deal are:
i. The Government, TfL and LBHF must scrutinise and agree the cost of tile project - meaning we all need to continually scrutinise costs and work together to identify cost savings on LBHF's preferred engineering option. The Department is also considering options for an independent assessment of costs.
ii. Each party agrees to pay a share of tiJe cost. Repair costs are to be led by LBHF; the Government will not directly contribute more than ⅓ of tile costs - meaning we need a commitment from LBHF that it will contribute at least ⅓ for the lifetime of the project, from now until it is fully reopened to all users. This funding does not need to be committed as one lump sum but ahead of each tranche of works.
iii. That the independent Board responsible tor the Case for Continued Safe Operation, (CCSO) reporting to LBHF, will conduct a new assessment tor controlled and limited reopening of the bridge to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic once further investigations and report validations are completed at the end of June - meaning it is now right for LBHF to consider limited and controlled reopening to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic, and progress to the next phase of works to stabilise the structure.
The most important next step is for the Government, TfL and LBHF to agree a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on our agreed next steps and respective funding contributions; this will show our shared commitment to fixing this problem and my officials will be in touch with yours to discuss this in more detail. However, LBHF will remain responsible for the overall costs of the project, as part of developing a business case for its preferred solution to repairs. Actions for LBHF We must make rapid progress to ensure the permanent reopening of the bridge to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic, and the best way to do that is to complete the Stabilisation works as soon as possible. In time. we want to see the bridge reopened to all users, including motor vehicles. No Government funding will be released until:
a) LBHF has determined its preferred engineering option for Stabilisation and undertaken the relevant independent validation. b) LBHF has made a formal commitment to provide its ⅓ contribution to the Stabilisation work and taken the expected steps to secure this contribution. c) LBHF has submitted a satisfactory Outline Business Case for its preferred approach to Stabilisation works to my Department, in line with Her Majesty's Treasury's (HMT) Green Book. Recognising that the Foster/COWl proposal remains a potential option for Strengthening, it is our recommendation that the Business Case be split into two parts: 1. Stabilisation works and 2. Strengthening works. This would allow Stabilisation works to permanently reopen the bridge to pedestrians and cyclists and allow river transits to begin, whilst development of the business case for Strengthening works continues in parallel. My Department will continue to support you in: a. Developing the Business Case(s} to HMT Green Book standards. b. Working closely with your officers to support you in developing your toll proposal to understand its viability. I note your letter of 13 May 2021 in which you ask for further feedback on your Outline Financial Plan, which focuses on your proposal to fund LBHF's financial contribution to repairs by means of a toll on traffic using the reopened bridge. My officials have held eight meetings with your officers to discuss your toll proposal, as well as providing substantive written feedback and advice on the legal, analytical and corporate finance aspects of the proposal to help you develop it to the required standard. As your officers recognise, your proposal needs further development as it does not contain sufficient analysis to make an assessment of the toll's revenue viability. My Department cannot give a formal response on the viability of the proposal until this analysis is complete. My officials look forward to supporting your officers on the next steps of the project and will be in touch to develop the MoU as soon as possible, so that we can reopen Hammersmith Bridge to the public as soon as is it safe to do so.
Baroness Vere of Norbiton Transport Minister for Roads, Buses and Places Great Minster House 33 Horseferry Road London SW1P 4DR 03003303000 firstname.lastname@example.org www.gov.uk/dft
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