Updated: Feb 16
As a direct result of all your emails sent via the QR Codes on the Hammer The Message signs we have positioned around Barnes, Mortlake, Hammersmith, Fulham and Putney we have just received this response from the Chair of the Task Force, Charlotte Vere:
12 February 2021
Dear Hammersmith Bridge SOS Group,
In recent days the Department for Transport has received a greater amount of correspondence than usual regarding Hammersmith Bridge, which we attribute to a campaign set up by the Hammersmith Bridge SOS Group.
I am writing to you as the Minister responsible for the issue. I share your disappointment and frustration that the bridge has been closed to pedestrians and cyclists since August 2020 and that river traffic under the bridge is severely restricted. I understand the depth of
feeling in both members of the SOS group and the wider community who are rightly angry about a situation which has been allowed to develop over many years.
However, the Government is not responsible for maintaining Hammersmith Bridge or its reopening, nor has the powers to make decisions on its repair. To progress this project, the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) as asset owners, is required to take these decisions and the Government-led Taskforce is supporting this by bringing the appropriate organisations together to implement them. The Government is committed to providing support to LBHF to develop a permanent solution. The Government has been working with the Taskforce to ensure that £4 million would be spent on Hammersmith
Bridge via the Extraordinary Funding and Financing package agreed with TfL on 31 October 2020. This has been put towards emergency mitigation works which will enable an assessment of the full extent of cracks in the two western pedestals as well as activities which will derisk the overall works programme for the bridge repair.
Furthermore, the Government recognises the need for residents to be able to cross the river as soon as safely possible. That is why, as part of the Transport for London (TfL) bail out last October, we provided funding to TfL to set up and run a ferry service. The precise operational timings for the ferry will depend on the programme put forward by the winning bidder and TfL expects to announce the shortlisted bidders in the coming days. The London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames also contributed to the cost of setting up the ferry service, LBHF did not.
We have also asked LBHF to reconsider the Case for Continued Safe Operation once the mitigation works, as detailed above, are complete in April. Our engineering experts believe that there may be potential for a limited reopening to cyclists and pedestrians and more frequent transits for river traffic. Based on the summary engineering report by LBHF’s
consultants Mott MacDonald from last November we believe this still to be the case. LBHF has yet to share the full Mott MacDonald report with us.
On funding, discussions on the full repair of the bridge are ongoing. We are aware that LBHF has been working on a funding solution involving a toll since last summer, but we are yet to see proposals on this, or on any other funding options. As you will be aware, funding is a key component in any complete and comprehensive business case.
In addition, LBHF is evaluating the option of a temporary bridge, which will also need to be
incorporated into the business case should LBHF decide to take that option forward. A business case cannot be formally considered until all elements are complete. It is important to note that this process is not unique to LBHF and Hammersmith Bridge, it applies to all local authorities seeking Government support.
I would like to reassure you that we would like to see Hammersmith Bridge re-opened as soon as safely possible and until that can happen, for there to be a crossing solution in place for the residents and communities affected.
For more information, including the Taskforce’s statements, please see the Hammersmith Bridge updates here
Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Transport Minister for Roads, Buses and Places
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
See details of who else is on the Task Force here