Examination of Witnesses (Questions 12180
12180. CHAIRMAN: You tell us then.
The Sustrans money is for an area. I have got some maps actually
in here which show where the Sustrans funding is for, and it is
for a wider area than just the footbridge, so it is for areas
along the canal to improve the pavements so they are easier to
cycle on and walk along, so it is not just the footbridge.
12181. What is it going to do to the footbridge?
(Miss Millett) Physical improvements so
12182. LADY BRIGHT: Make it accessible
for bicycles for example, which it is not at the moment.
At the moment that detail has not actually been agreed and one
of the reasons why it has not been agreed is because we are waiting
for the Crossrail decision. Depending on what is agreed here in
this Committee will impact on how that money is allocated. For
example, if through Crossrail the bridge can be significantly
improved then we can use this other funding to improve the other
links, for example resurfacing the pavements and other footways
and making them more accessible. However, if the Crossrail decision
does not go some way into making the improvements that we would
like to see actually on the footbridge, then we would have to
take another think about it because the money from Sustrans is
not actually enough to do what we would like on the footbridge
itself and it also does not take into consideration the fact that
this funding is for the footbridge and links and we also need
to do something to improve the links onto the footbridge.
12183. LORD BROOKE OF ALVERTHORPE: Could
we see the rest of the letter again. (After a short pause) I apologise
but I did not go on the visit and I am struggling a little bit
and I am really trying to identify what you are after. I understand
there is an offer from Crossrail to do some lifting and then
12184. LADY BRIGHT: What we are after
is to speed it up a bit basically.
12185. LORD SNAPE: To speed it up a bit?
12186. LADY BRIGHT: In this letter we
do not know when it is all going to be done, do we. It is somehow
going to be slotted into the programme and the Sustrans money
will have to be spent to do something about the middle. Crossrail
is doing a bit at the north and at bit at the south.
12187. BARNONESS FOOKES: I was on the
site visit and I got the impression that one of your anxieties
was what I call the `dog leg' which reduces visibility and therefore
is an incitement to crime, as it were?
12188. LADY BRIGHT: Yes, absolutely.
12189. BARONESS FOOKES: Could you just
expand on that?
In one sense we are grateful for this letter from Network Rail
where they say on the south side of the bridge they will put a
ramp in to make it DDA compliant. They also mention to be fitted
with appropriate lighting and a concave mirror where deemed appropriate
by a local crime prevention officer. We are grateful for that
but we feel that only goes halfway towards resolving the problem.
The other problems that face the footbridge, as you mentioned,
are it has a dog leg in it so you cannot actually stand and look
all the way down the footbridge and see who is coming towards
you. It also has six-foot high panelling which you cannot see
through so you cannot see onto the bridge and you cannot be seen
on the bridge. What we would actually like is to have without
going into the details, some mesh or something to make the bridge
transparent, to widen it so you can get wheelchairs and a pushchair
going along it at the same time.
12190. LADY BRIGHT: A lot of this has
been dealt with already on how much they can widen it. They cannot
widen it that much and the consultative committee has already
discussed it. There are commitments beyond which I do not think
we are going to push people too much further but just to make
12191. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: Miss
Millett, if I was a mugger would I not be delighted to have a
mirror because it would help me to see my victims coming?
The point as well about the bridge if you are a mugger is you
do quite like it at the moment because you can escape basically
because there is a lot of fear of crime around it people do not
tend to use the bridge after night which means, yes, if you are
a mugger you can just run over the bridge and then you are away.
What we are asking for is improvements to the bridge to increase
the usage on it so it also increases the natural surveillance
to deter muggings happening. A mirror is going to help people
see who is on that bridge, so yes it is going to help a mugger
and it is also going to help you or I who are not muggers. It
is going to help me see there is a mugger on the bridge and I
will turn round and walk off it the other way.
12192. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: The
logic of all this is to take the bridge down.
This is one argument which we would also strongly not want to
see happen because the bridge connects two communities that are
divided, as you have already heard, by the Westway and by the
railway lines. For those of you who went on the site visit you
will know that on the north side of the footbridge whilst it is
a very deprived area there has been so much regeneration happening
there. We have got the new academy, a brand new youth centre,
two health centres, shops, the footbridge is really needed to
connect those communities. We just want to see it improved and
12193. LADY BRIGHT: There is a very high
proportion of disabled people, are there not, and the poverty
indicators, people are not going to run and hop on to a bus because
it does not take you where you want to go. It is about a 650-metre
detour so if you are school girl coming from the Villas and you
want to go to the Academy, for example, you have got to walk down
to the new crossing at Royal Oak. The Council has just got rid
of the underpass which was there to provide a safe crossing across
that main Harrow Road. They got rid of it because everyone was
afraid to use it, so they brought the crossing up, in consideration
of the schoolchildren's needs, to ground level, but it is a horrible
crossing to have to do and it is a 650-metre detour. Therefore,
we are looking for a bit more joined-up thinking here, I think.
The initial reaction, as I have said to the Committee in the other
place, was, "Well, this has got to be fixed. Just ask the
Promoter to replace it". The Promoter is Transport for London
after all, so why are we having all this roundabout argument over
whose bit is which? That has blighted it for the whole of its
life, has it not, that whole question? Arguments between Westminster
City Council, Network Rail and Crossrail, they should not be our
business, those are
12194. CHAIRMAN: Lady Bright, I am looking
for a gap so that we can go and have some coffee. There is going
to be plenty of opportunity for you to make comments on this at
the end, but at the present moment you have got a witness in the
witness box and I wonder how long it is going to take before we
can release her.
12195. LADY BRIGHT: I would say five
12196. CHAIRMAN: Well, you ask her questions
and then we will let Ms Lieven ask her questions and then we can
take a break.
12197. LADY BRIGHT: I did want to ask
Claire questions and to let you have the opportunity as well to
interpret the crime figures. There was a specific request from
Lord James on the visit to have some figures for crime on the
bridge. Claire, I am going to ask you to pretend to be a policeman
here really. What is the story about that?
(Miss Millett) Well, I asked our local Safer Neighbourhood
team to give me the crime figures for the last year. They actually
went back further than that to January 2007 and I think this has
been circulated amongst you, but, if not, I can provide copies.
There were nine crimes on the footbridge, well, in and around
the area of the footbridge since January 2007. Of those, eight
involved crimes being committed on one sidesorry, this
has changed due to data I got this morning, so crimes two and
three should actually be under the second heading, `Using the
bridge to make a getaway'. There was one crime actually on the
bridge which was someone smoking drugs and then there were eight
other crimes or incidents where the bridge was used to make a
getaway for another crime conducted on one side of the footbridge.
12198. LORD SNAPE: But would a brand-new
bridge make any difference as far as those crimes are concerned?
If a suspect made off over the footbridge, then it does not really
matter whether it is a new or an old footbridge; they are going
to make off anyway, are they not?
What we are saying at the moment is that at night it is very dark
and, to put myself in the mind of a mugger or someone, you could
make off and think, "Well, no one uses that footbridge, there
is no CCTV on it and no one is going to see me, so then I can
be off and I can be in the estate or I can be on the Westbourne
Park Villas side and I am away", whereas, if it was a bridge
that was more visible from the road and from the bridge and it
had CCTV on it, then I would think, "Well, I'm not going
to run over it because people can see me going, the CCTV can pick
The Petition of Hammerson (Paddington)
Limited and Domaine Developments Limited
12199. Forgive me, but, if you are going to
get from one side of the railway track to another to disappear
either at the Westbourne Park Villas side or the estate on the
other side, does it really make any difference whether we have
a new bridge, an old bridge or CCTV? Those crimes there, most
of them were not actually committed on the bridge, but the bridge
is used as a getaway. Would that not still be the case even if
there was a brand new bridge? I think my colleague was being facetious,
but I can see his point. If you took the bridge away, the mugger
would not be able to make off anywhere, would he?
(Miss Millett) That is true. You are right,
the facts on their own speak for themselves and, when the bridge
was shut, there were fewer incidents in that area. However, what
we are saying
11 Committee Ref: A64, Crime statistics on or around
the Westbourne Park Footbridge (SCN-20080507-011) Back