After such a long time helping lead the campaign, it is fantastic to see that Hammersmith Bridge has finally been deemed safe to reopen to pedestrians and cyclists from this weekend.
Engineers have completed safety investigations that have also concluded that it will be safe for river traffic to pass under the bridge, which will be welcome news to local rowing clubs.
Whilst this is great news, the campaign to fund the full restoration of the bridge continues. I can’t think of another government in the world that would let a massive bridge in their capital city remain closed for all this time. It is a transport route that is vital for so many people, and there are clear implications for the rest of London. Putney, Roehampton and Southfields already suffered with poor air quality. Indeed, Putney High Street is one of the most polluted streets in London, and the closure of Hammersmith Bridge has undoubtedly brought even more traffic to our streets.
The bridge repairs will cost £141 million. Hammersmith and Fulham Council have been told to pay one third of those costs, which is just not feasible. Their entire annual budget is £124 million, so they would need to raise council tax by £800 per person to fund the repair costs. There is just no way that any local council could afford to fund the major restoration of a heritage suspension bridge.
I am delighted that there has finally been some movement and pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic will return to the bridge, but the main problem remains and the Government must fund the full restoration now.