Updated: Apr 22
Unbelievably 2 years have passed since Hammersmith Bridge closed to traffic and yet the repairs still cannot go ahead because funding has not been agreed. HBSOS has conveyed your utter disbelief & dismay with the situation to Charlotte Vere and Grant Shapps:
Dear Baroness Vere 9 April 2021
As you may have noticed, there has been significant press coverage relating to the ongoing closure of Hammersmith Bridge over the last few days. Please see below links to a number of articles that have been written in national newspapers and the wider media, including some international coverage from the US and Australia. It cannot be good for the image of London, the largest and most successful city in Western Europe, to be mocked internationally for the government’s inability to repair a key river crossing.
The relocation of the Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race to the Great Ouse led to a protest by rowers on the Thames near Hammersmith Bridge on Easter Sunday. As you know, the stretch of the river between Putney Bridge and Chiswick Bridge is the heart of British rowing, a sport that we as a nation excel at. The closure of the bridge and the inability for rowers to pass underneath is causing major disruption to the sport. You have said that it is likely that the bridge will be closed for six years, and, in future years, if the Boat Race is held on the Great Ouse rather than the Thames, this will have a major impact on local shops, restaurants and pubs for whom Boat Race day is one of their key trading days of the year. The images shown in the articles below demonstrate the strength of feeling amongst the rowing community about the lack of progress with repairing the bridge.
Tomorrow will be the second anniversary of the closure of the bridge to road traffic and this provides the opportunity to assess what has been achieved over the last two years. Sadly, it seems that very little has been achieved. The promised ferry is not operational and is unlikely to start operating for many months partly because the promise that there would be no red tape and the procurement process would be expedited was broken. But the key point is that you have not agreed funding for the repairs to the bridge. The Steering Group of Hammersmith Bridge SOS finds it extraordinary that the government and the Department for Transport have not been able to agree this over a two-year period and we would like you to now set out a clear timetable to do so.
As we have pointed out to you on numerous occasions, the closure of the bridge is causing severe disruption to the lives of local residents. In particular, children have spent the winter walking down a poorly lit towpath which is sometimes so flooded that they are put in danger. We conducted a mental health survey last year and over 80% of those who responded said that the closure of the bridge was having a severe impact on their mental wellbeing. Cancer patients are having to walk or take the bus for a long period in order to get to the hospital for their treatments and the likely survival of victims of strokes and heart attacks is being put at risk as a result of the much longer journey times to Charing Cross Hospital for ambulances. A major arterial route out of London has also been disrupted as it is now much harder for people living north of the river in the west of London to access the A3. All of this is totally unacceptable.
Two years is long enough to have prevaricated over the funding for the repair of the bridge. We look forward to receiving a timetable for the agreement of funding shortly. I would appreciate a swift response to this letter to help alleviate the intense anxiety that is being experienced by local residents currently.
Coordinator, Hammersmith Bridge SOS
Copy to Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Transport
Links to recent news stories:
See / download a pdf of the letter here >>