Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 12160 - 12179)

  12160. LADY BRIGHT: It is not just these trains. We are glad that the new arrangements will be in place so the headshunt will not come so far west. In other words it will not run round the train and affect the whole of the rest of the street but there will be a temporary fleet railway inevitably moving heavy stuff at all hours of the day and night between the two work sites out west to the portal while the railway is being built.

  12161. LORD SNAPE: Your witness made the point, Lady Bright, that it was the EWS trains that were the main source of the complaints at night and I was trying to ascertain for my own information just how many EWS trains actually operate during those hours.

  12162. LADY BRIGHT: It depends on the demand for concrete.

   (Mr Hessenberg) It is sporadic.

  12163. LADY BRIGHT: At the moment but what we cannot predict—we have been told three or four freight trains per day, which is far more then we have at the moment, during the construction phase—but we cannot really predict very closely what that will be and we seek reassurance on what conditions there will be on their operation, we just do not know.

  12164. CHAIRMAN: Any more questions? Thank you very much.

The witness withdrew.

  12165. LADY BRIGHT: I think that shows, perhaps, that we really are not terribly clear between us, not all of us, exactly what the implications are of the Crossrail project. People have got swept up into this in dribs and drabs because it is quite a long way ahead that those new trains will be operating and I think people are just beginning to click quite what the implications may be. I just must say again and again we do not have all the data on what is going to be happening there. We do not have the noise data so we cannot judge the full implications and therefore we cannot give sensible discussion to the proposed remedies. That is the first point and the second point is that we do not have direct undertakings specifically to this site because the information has not yet been available to do so. It has been building up its generic codes and so on but we do not know how it applies to us and that is a matter of major concern. I think we should just move on to the footbridge and I should call Miss Claire Millett.

MISS CLAIRE MILLETT, sworn Examined by LADY BRIGHT

  12166. LADY BRIGHT: You are, I believe, aware of the general outline of the difficulties over the footbridge. It has been a running sore between Network Rail and Westminster City Council for many, many years and it has been a concern to residents for many years. It is regarded as muggers' alley and everyone is terrified of it from a crime point of view. I think we have got the crime figures for everybody here. You have got a copy of the crime figures with you, have you? Did every member of the Committee get given a copy of those? I know there was a specific question on that. That is fine and the other one is a letter. Could we put up on the board these two letters.[10] These letters will bring you up-to-date on the position vis-a"-vis Network Rail and Crossrail and what they are doing. Miss Lieven gave a run-through of the history of the footbridge and what Crossrail's involvement is. I would like to remind you that the House of Commons did say in their interim report that the Promoters should simply replace the bridge and that would be much easier to control. What we have got at the moment is a halfcocked solution, as it were, and the problem that recurs repeatedly in our location, that of the interlocking of Network Rail and Crossrail and Westminster City Council and other agencies. I am not able to judge that letter from Network Rail very well but it seems to most of us, and Claire will give her views on this, that it is not full of urgency, it does not give us a timescale really when things will be done and the bits that matter, which are the safety aspects, could be dealt with very quickly. Could I perhaps just for information ask Claire a question. Miss Millett is the Manager of the Westbourne Neighbourhood Forum. Would you like to introduce yourself and explain what it is.

  (Miss Millett) I am not the Manager of the Neighbourhood Forum; I am an officer there. Westbourne Neighbourhood Forum covers the Westbourne electoral ward within the City of Westminster. We are a forum that represents the whole community and we are directed and led by a management board which consists of residents, businesses, community organisations, and also statutory partners from the Council, the Police, the primary care trust, and so on. We were set up by Westminster City Partnership initially with Neighbourhood Renewal funding and subsequently with Local Area Agreement funding and what we have been tasked to do is to set out a Neighbourhood Action Plan which is based on the community's concerns and agreed with the statutory partners, so essentially what we do if you like, it is the neighbourhood management structure that creates a bridge and a partnership between residents on the one hand and service providers on the other.

  12167. Thank you very much. That helps and that is a community of approximately 10,000 people, I believe.

   (Miss Millett) That is right, yes.

  12168. That is 10,000 on the south side and 10,000 on the north side.

   (Miss Millett) Should I just add, Lady Bright, the reason why Westminster City Partnership has set up this neighbourhood management structure in Westbourne is because it is one of the most deprived areas not just of Westminster but actually of the whole country, so the community that I represent is extremely deprived, which perhaps we will go on to.

  12169. Yes, and I believe the Committee is aware that the latest impetus for concern about the state of the bridge is that there is a new school, a 1,200-pupil academy, where about a quarter of the pupils live south of the railway, and that has been open since September, so there is a large new group of young people who need protecting in using a bridge that has been unpopular because it has been regarded as unsafe. I would also like to ask you, Claire, about the Lottery money, the extra factor in this bridge, the third party funding. Would you like to explain how that came about?

   (Miss Millett) Essentially, since the Neighbourhood Forum has been in existence we have identified that this footbridge is a huge problem for a lot of our residents because it is unsafe, it is perceived to be unsafe, and also for mobility issues if you are in a wheelchair or with pushchairs, so the Neighbourhood Forum has been working with Westminster City Council to try and petition with Network Rail and so on to improve the footbridge. One possible solution has been working with Westminster City Council to win Lottery funding through Sustrans which is an organisation which basically tries to put forward sustainable transport.

  12170. LADY BRIGHT: Walking and cycling, safe routes to school.

   (Miss Millett) Yes, so they are not quite so concerned with the crime elements. What they are trying to achieve basically is sustainable routes through the area, so with huge community support, literally our residents on the phone to 50 other residents they know encouraging them to vote, Sustrans was successful in securing the National Lottery funding. That was £50 million of which this footbridge and links has a share of about £600,000. So there is third party investment here but what we need to be clear on is that that is the footbridge and links, it is not just for the footbridge, so what we would not want is for people to think there is some funding here. We do not need to do anything else because actually the purpose of that funding is to improve the other rights of way leading onto the footbridge and then leading off it and then to access the rest of London.

  12171. LADY BRIGHT: Thank you, Claire. Just before we go on I just wanted to set the context here. This letter that you are looking at from Network Rail—

  12172. CHAIRMAN: This is a recent letter, is it?

  12173. LADY BRIGHT: This is the latest statement we have; this is in fact the only statement that has been made available to us.

  12174. CHAIRMAN: When was it written?

  12175. LADY BRIGHT: The date on the top of it is 4 April, so this is where we are now and through Westminster City Council, because Graham King there is Chairman of the Paddington Area Liaison Group that brings us all in, there have been efforts to get Network Rail to say what they would actually do, and it has been a year since this was last heard in the other place, and the bridge must be the only place in London that still does not have closed circuit television, it does not have the lighting it needs, it does not have the mirrors it needs, it does not have any of the things that could be done quickly let alone the larger scale rebuilding that needs doing and this letter from Network Rail only eventually came through after I think it had been requested for about eight months, or something like that, so we are not talking about getting a quick reaction.

  12176. CHAIRMAN: What sort of work is it proposed that the Sustrans grant will fund?

  12177. LADY BRIGHT: Would you like to explain it?

  12178. CHAIRMAN: I do not know who the witness is but one of you.

  12179. LADY BRIGHT: The Neighbourhood Forum represents the residents on the other side and you are a paid officer, are you not, to deal with these problems.



10   Committee Ref: A64, Correspondence between Network Rail Infrastructure Limited and Westminster City Council, 4 April 2008 (SCN-20080507-005 to -008) Back


 
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