Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 12180 - 12199)

  12180. CHAIRMAN: You tell us then.

   (Miss Millett) 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.

   (Miss Millett) 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?

   (Miss Millett) 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 the point.

  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?

   (Miss Millett) 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.

   (Miss Millett) 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 used more.

  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 minutes.

  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.[11] 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 side—sorry, 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?

   (Miss Millett) 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 me up".

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

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