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LBH&F Council Meeting 20 Jan 2021 & Responses

Updated: Feb 3

Held at 6:30pm. Questions were asked and responses given in writing...


Item 5 was Public Questions. Many were submitted and we tried to get some on Hammersmith Bridge but time constraints meant that many submitters were told their question would be answered in writing subsequently. The residents' questions below were accepted, appeared on the agenda, and were answered on 28 January:


All questions were to Councillor Wesley Harcourt, Cabinet Member for the Environment

(Click here to see the full meeting listing and agenda etc on the Council website)


Question 25 – Hammersmith Bridge (New Bridge) from: Antonia Muir

“The Council’s own experts say a new Hammersmith Bridge is cheaper, faster and better value to the taxpayer than trying to repair the old bridge. Is the Council leadership pressing for a new bridge with the taskforce? If yes, what progress? If no, why not?”

Response: "Following detailed inspections and assessments to determine the current load carrying capacity, designs were developed for the refurbishment and strengthening of the Bridge. The solutions developed have been in place for some time now and have been proven to be feasible. The Bridge is Grade II* Listed and protected. With solutions developed, there can be no justification for demolishing such a significant heritage asset and replacing with a new bridge. Contrary to the statement in your question, replacing the protected Grade II* listed structure with a new bridge has not been considered as there is no justification for doing so. It would not be cheaper or faster to replace the bridge with new, as this would require Secretary of State approval, lengthy consent and consultation processes, procurement and implementation of a demolition contract and design and construction of an entirely new bridge. An alternative proposal we are exploring is a new temporary bridge that fits within the current bridge and allows works on refurbishing the current bridge to continue while allowing bridge passage to traffic within a considerable shorter timeframe than the current proposal."


Question 26 – Hammersmith Bridge (Comprehensive Plan) from: Charlie Pryor

“What will it take for the Council to reach an agreement with the Hammersmith Bridge Task Force, to deliver a comprehensive financed plan to fix the bridge?”

Response: "The Department for Transport has been presented with a comprehensive business plan for the stabilisation and strengthening of Hammersmith bridge. The council and the Secretary of State for Transport are currently considering the financial options."


Question 27 – Hammersmith Bridge (New Bridge on Current Footings) from: Luke Robinson

“Why can the bridge not be removed and a new bridge be installed rapidly on the current footings?”

Response: "Hammersmith Bridge is Grade II* Listed and is therefore of particular importance and of more than special interest. The Bridge is therefore protected.

New bridges have to be designed to modern codes and standards including their foundations. The ‘current footings’ would not comply with these modern standards and could not simply be reused. An alternative proposal we are exploring is a new temporary bridge that fits within the current bridge and allows works on refurbishing the current bridge to continue whilst allowing bridge passage to traffic within a considerable shorter timeframe than the current proposal."


Question 28 – Hammersmith Bridge (Viable Solution) from: Christopher Jones

“I would like to ask the Council if they have agreed on a viable solution going forward, found funding from council and government funds, and if so when work will start on fixing this bridge and if not, why not?”

Response: "The Department for Transport Taskforce has already been presented with a comprehensive business plan for the stabilisation and strengthening of Hammersmith bridge. The council and the Secretary of State for Transport are currently considering the financial options."


Question 29 – Hammersmith Bridge (New Bridge) from: John Griffiths, Resident

“Has the Council considered a completely new bridge of outstanding design, fit for the purpose of carrying pedestrians, cyclists and road traffic including double decker buses, and able to accomodate river traffic at all tides. It could be the new forward-looking emblem for the Borough.”

Response: "Following detailed inspections and assessments to determine the current load carrying capacity, designs were developed for the stabilisation and strengthening of Hammersmith Bridge. The solutions developed have been in place for some time now and have been proven to be feasible. The Bridge is Grade II* Listed and therefore protected and there is no justification for demolishing such a significant heritage asset and replacing with a new one. Replacing the protected Grade II* listed structure with a new bridge has not been considered as there is no justification for doing so. It would not be cheaper or faster to replace the bridge with new, as this would require Secretary of State approval, lengthy consent and consultation processes, procurement and implementation of a demolition contract, and design and construction of an entirely new bridge. An alternative proposal we are exploring is a new temporary bridge that fits within the current bridge and allows works on refurbishing the current to continue whilst allowing bridge passage to traffic within a considerable shorter timeframe than the current proposal."


Question 30 – Hammersmith Bridge (Financial Planning) from: Justin Sumner

“As owners of the Bridge the Council may mortgage or raise Finance against the ASSET. Therefore, Will the Council confirm their financial planning and Bridge repair time frame, with specific target dates, please.”

Response: "The Council is able to raise finance for capital investment by borrowing through the Public Works Loans Board. This borrowing is based on affordability and ability to pay, not on any value of the assets owned. The Council will be outlining its overall financial position and medium term plans at Full Council in February 2021. The position with regard to Hammersmith Bridge is dependent on the ongoing discussions with the Department of Transport’s Task Force and the Secretary of State for Transport."


Question 31 – Hammersmith Bridge (Moving the Bridge) from: David Chamberlain

To: Councillor Wesley Harcourt, Cabinet Member for the Environment

“Is it not time to bite the bullet and remove Hammersmith Bridge to another location? It is clearly not fit for purpose and any repairs currently contemplated will have to be repeated time and time again.”

Response: "Hammersmith Bridge is Grade II* Listed and is therefore of particular importance and of more than special interest. The Bridge is therefore protected and cannot be removed to another location. Design of strengthening works have been developed and have been proven to be feasible. Indeed, similar works have been successfully implemented to numerous historical bridges in the UK and abroad. With the allocation of funding Hammersmith Bridge can be fit for purpose."


Question 35 – Hammersmith Bridge from: Dionne Bridgeman

“If Professor Fleck’s mid-December government-commissioned engineering report said the bridge could be quickly made safe for pedestrians to use, what is stopping you from opening it?"

Response: "The business case for the stabilisation of Hammersmith Bridge, produced by world leading engineers working for H&F and prepared by Transport for London, states that Phase 1 of the works would see the bridge temporarily reopened for pedestrians and cyclists within a year. The cost is £16m. This work has been reviewed and accepted by the Taskforce and others including Professor Norman Fleck. All parties agree that this involves the removal of the pedestal casings, clean blasting of the pedestals and the stabilisation of the pedestals. Professor Fleck's paper is a technical review of the actual investigations carried out by our engineers, notably Mott MacDonald. His contention that somehow the bridge emergency stabilisation can be done "quickly and cheaply" is unsupported by either detail or evidence. His suggestions included work that is already underway and two other brief points which are not developed to any level where he demonstrates that they would or could be effective. In extensive meetings our engineers have held with Professor Fleck he has not brought forward any detailed evidence to show how the works programme could be done quicker or cheaper. The Continued Case for the Safe Operation (CCSO) of Hammersmith Bridge has been made available to all parties on the Taskforce. A report and a covering letter produced by the CCSO, following the Professor Fleck and AECOM reports, have been published on the LBHF website and sent to the Taskforce. The CCSO conclusion has not been challenged by any of the other parties. We must follow its provisions to meet our legal responsibilities to avoid exposing the public to unacceptable safety risk. Safety is the key priority of the Council."


2021_01_20 LBHF Public Questions and Res
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Item 7.4 was a Special Motion put forward by Conservative Councillors Andrew Brown and Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler asking for the release of "all the engineering reports associated with the closure of Hammersmith Bridge to the Council’s Official Opposition and other elected representatives, including MPs and GLA members, to enable the democratic process of full scrutiny of the council’s decisions and plans for Hammersmith Bridge to be carried out".


Due to lack of time to debate the Motion, it was withdrawn at the meeting.


Watch the meeting on YouTube here


Submitting a question...


Members of the public who live, work, or are being educated in the Borough may ask the Leader or a Cabinet Member one question (and one supplementary on their reply). The question must be in writing and submitted to the Director of Law at least seven clear working days (no later than 12 noon) before the day of the meeting. All public questions and the reply given by the Leader or Cabinet Member will be recorded in the minutes.

For more info about public questions click here


Public questions should be sent to Kayode Adewumi at kayode.adewumi@lbhf.gov.uk

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