[Updated 8/10/12 as we have been following up action which was promised at the meeting]
There was an emotionally charged public meeting last Thursday night (4th October) at Granton Primary School, organised by Network Rail, regarding the closure of the bridge on Greyhound Lane by Streatham Common Station.
There is a lot of local anger around the effect that it will have on local people and businesses, but also the lack of notice and consultation.
Local Green Scott Ainslie was among those asking questions and sent a report from the meeting, containing the information which was given in response to questions from local people.
The work itself
The work involves extending Platforms 1 and 2 under the bridge, to accommodate longer trains, and this is what is causing the need to replace the bridge. The bridge is also 100 years old and needs updating to meet new safety standards.
When asked why platforms couldn't be extended North instead, it was said the railway junction, being on a corner, was too busy and would raise issues of safety. Network Rail said all options had been considered, and this was the only feasible one.
The anticipated closure, impact and arrangements
They are forecasting the bridge will be closed completely for 6 months, then around May-June, 2013, the bridge will be open on one side until the work is completed at the end of June.
A single lane is closed at the moment in order to set up a temporary footbridge and foundation points. Current ongoing ground investigative works may mean that time can be saved later on.
Normal weekly commuters should not be affected too much, as most of the work will be carried out at the weekends, when a replacement bus service will operate. (Please allow for longer journeys as the effect on the roads will be substantial!) However, the station will be closed altogether on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th November, but will open again on the 5th November.
Diversions will be in place for drivers. Please see Lambeth website for details of this (they are not there at the moment!)
Impact on local businesses
The question was asked what Network Rail would do to mitigate the effect on local businesses? Streatham's Town Centre manager, Angelina Purcell has asked Maureen Smith to look at business rates-block reductions. Angelina has promised to keep everyone up to date. The question was also put whether Network Rail could have a slush fund for this. There was a promise from Network Rail to look into this.
The lack of consultation
Many people only found out last week by word of month about these works. There have been no posters at the station telling people. It was claimed that 2000 letters went out, however only 2 out of 150 people at the meeting said that they had received a letter, and this was in August. (So, obviously no room for ‘consultation’ anyway!)
There was a feeling at the meeting from local people that there had been no consultation at all, and people said they felt 'appallingly treated' and called this 'unprofessional'.
There was a repeated apology during the meeting from Network Rail for this.
There were also questions about when Lambeth council and local councillors knew, and why they did not inform/consult people sooner. Lambeth council were told about the works, but Lambeth officers said they felt there was no point 'alarming' the public over potential works. When the likely duration of the work started to increase and the work looked as if it would go ahead, councillors were allegedly told about it.
There was an apology on behalf of Lambeth council who apparently knew six months before about the proposed bridge works would go ahead around July/ August time. Cllr Mark Bennett promised to look into this and report back. We will ask Cllr Bennett for this information and ensure it is passed onto everyone.
There was also specific concern that local community groups and businesses had not been consulted. We made the point that in view of a claims that Lambeth is a cooperative Council, this fell well short of their intentions.
Questions were also raised about why the work was taking place in Winter when the days are shorter, with suggestions it should have been done in Spring/Summer.
Local residents suggested that whilst these alterations are being made the opportunity should be taken for the station and local area to be made more accessible for all.
It was suggested that council officers should visit the site to see impact on traffic. They would also need to address the traffic light and pedestrian crossing, as there is no green man and the public’s safety is at risk.
There was great concern about the impact of traffic now going into side roads where the diverted traffic will run.
With regard to getting more information there is a 24 hr helpline for any questions: 08457 114141 or you can email Crsouth@networkrail.co.uk Information should also be posted on www.networkrail.co.uk and found if you search for "Streatham". (This is not up currently, but Scott Ainslie has emailed them to ask when their site will be updated, as he was promised by James Azur-Kean of Network rail, that this would be done immediately).
Community relations adviser is John Eccles. You can ring the national helpline & ask for him.
There is also the possibility of Facebook page to be set up by Network Rail.
The Lambeth council website should also contain the latest information. Currently it does not, but we will pursue this.