Examination of Witness (Questions 480
WEDNESDAY 7 MARCH 2001
480. Do you think the Mayor has sufficient powers
to encourage this joined-up living?
(Mr Turner) The answer is I do not think so, because
the Mayor has very limited planning authority powers.
481. Would you agree with the view that says
that highway engineers are really only interested in building
roads, that is what they are trained to do and that what is aesthetically
appealing to them is a long stretch of new tarmac with nothing
to get in the way of the car, such as pedestrian crossings?
(Mr Turner) I am a civil engineer and I do not fit
into that category, because I do not think the only thing that
is necessary is to build new roads. I do think that some have
that view but I think that the environment in which we live is
becoming more attuned to, and the training environment is becoming
more attuned to, sustainable development and sustainable transport,
and I think that people are coming through the educational systems
which recognise that building new roads is not a panacea to our
482. Do you think we have the people with the
right skills here to develop the streetscapes that we are all
familiar with on the continent? Or, more simply, do we have sufficiently
skilled people to deliver the very basic schemes such as pavement
works? It is appalling how many new pavements one can walk on
where one can clearly see that in another couple of months' time
they will be as bumpy as they were before the work was done.
(Mr Turner) I think there is a skill shortage but
that need not necessarily be that the skills are not available.
There is an awful lot of work that is going on and an awful lot
of pressure. I think attention to detail by my colleagues in my
profession has not been one of their strong points. I think they
are gradually recognising that greater attention to detail and
that pedestrians are trafficor transport usersand
a viable transport mode is coming to a general understanding.
Within Transport for London Street Management we have instigated
a whole series of seminars to try to ensure that awareness is
actually increased, and I do think work still needs to be done
in that area.
483. Do you have quality assurance schemes that
regularly go out and vet the work that has been done by contractors?
This is a fairly common complaint, that they come and do the work
and leave rubble on site, and that the work is not checked by
(Mr Turner) That is an issue which I am concerned
about, and we are changing the nature of the way we manage our
contracts as a result of the formation of TFL, at my instigation.
I do think that some of my predecessor organisations did not carry
out as much supervision as I would like to see.
484. Finally, how many of these projects that
your contractors have completed would you expect to be quality
(Mr Turner) Quality assurance is a bit of a generic
term. I would hope that all the contracts that are carried out
under TFL are to an acceptable quality, and if they are not they
should be put right.
485. If you are doing a massive scheme like
the Trafaglar Square scheme, presumably it is terribly important
what materials are used, because you very specifically said "If
we don't get Lottery money we would have to have cheaper materials".
We spoke to somebody in Milan last week, who was a rather serious
lady, who had the magnificent job of deciding which granites were
to be used on their pedestrianisation schemes, and they deliberately
plan to provide extra facilities so that it will not be put down
and instantly dug up. Are you contemplating such equal schemes
for the future?
(Mr Turner) We are indeed. On the Trafalgar Square
scheme we are working with Fosters to ensure that the right type
of granite is chosen.
486. English I hope.
(Mr Turner) I readily admit I am not an expert and
that is the reason why we are taking advice and working in partnership
487. It could even be Scottish.
(Mr Turner)and town planners. I would say that
we do need to work in partnership and in a balance, because I
can think of a scheme near here in Upper Ground, Coin Street,
where work was done to the highway which was not carried out by
civil engineers and the materials are of very high quality indeed.
However, although they have been repaired now, they were inappropriate
for the public realm; they were architectural materials for within
a building or a square and they would not stand up to the rigours
of life on a public highway.
488. So you are building in a protection that
says "As soon as we put this down some utility is going to
come along and dig it up"?
(Mr Turner) We are trying to ensure that that does
not occur in Trafalgar Square. The legislation is such, that it
is difficult to do. That is why we are looking at (and one of
the reasons is cost) diversions that we can undertake to prevent
thisif they are not there they cannot dig it up. However,
we cannot shift all the statutory undertakers out of Trafalgar
Square; it is not economic.
489. We have listed buildings, should we have
(Mr Turner) To some extent you have within conservation
areas, and planning legislation does give controls to the planning
authority over that. It is also one of the reasons why we are
having to gain planning permission outside the setting of listed
buildings. You have to get planning permission for significant
changes to the street environment. So to some extent it is already
there but it is not there in the wider extent, which is, I suspect,
what you are meaning. I can see no reason why, for some of the
streets of London, you should not move in that direction, because
the greater control we can have over how the streets are abused
Chairman: On that note, can I thank you very
much? It has been a very helpful session.