Wandsworth Council’s Deputy Leader Jonathan Cook says it is unacceptable for residents living near to Putney and Wandsworth Bridges to be left bearing the brunt of Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s ineptitude and mismanagement of Hammersmith bridge.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council, which is solely responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of Hammersmith Bridge announced without any warning whatsoever earlier this month that it was closing the bridge indefinitely, citing safety concerns.
The decision has caused significant disruption on local roads and severe congestion on other river crossings, especially Putney, Wandsworth and Chiswick Bridges. Numerous bus services have also been diverted or disrupted, resulting in longer journey times and huge inconvenience for people who use public transport.
Councillor Cook, who is also Wandsworth’s Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, said: “People living across south west London who are experiencing daily inconvenience and disruption because of this closure are at a complete loss to understand Hammersmith and Fulham’s decision. Londoners expect answers to their many questions about how this situation has come about, how the bridge’s condition has been allowed to deteriorate to such a degree, and crucially, what Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s plans are to deal with this problem and get the bridge reopened.
“We have made great strides in recent years in tackling air quality problems in Putney High Street and we are simply not prepared to see all that good work undone or jeopardised in any way by a wholly unacceptable and arbitrary decision by another local authority.
“We will be doing everything we can to ensure the impact on our residents and businesses is minimised, but what really needs to happen is for the leadership of Hammersmith and Fulham to pull their fingers out and get on with the job of fixing their bridge.”
The current closure is just the latest in a series that have affected Hammersmith Bridge over the past 2 decades.
The bridge was closed in 2014, 2016 and twice in both 2017 and 2018. It was also closed for more than a year between February 1997 and July 1998. It is the only bridge that Hammersmith and Fulham Council are responsible for maintaining.
In contrast Wandsworth looks after two Thames crossings. In 2014 it carried out a major refurbishment of Putney Bridge which was suffering serious structural problems due to leaking water mains lying deep within the bridge structure. The project was completed 2 weeks ahead of schedule.
Councillor cook added: “Hammersmith and Fulham Council have had years and years to plan ahead and get this bridge properly repaired. The travelling public should not be left paying the price for their failure.”