New minister warned of looming crisis on London’s roads
Published: Thursday 11th January 18
Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia has written to the new Minister for London Jo Johnson welcoming his appointment but also alerting him to the looming crisis facing the capital’s road infrastructure following TfL’s recent decision to slash spending on repairs and maintenance.
Last month the council raised concerns about TfL’s planned funding cuts to transport projects in the capital.
Senior TfL executives have warned all of London’s town halls that five year business plans approved in 2016 are being re-written and major infrastructure projects shelved.
According to briefings from its officials, the cuts mean that potholes and carriageway defects on major arterial roads (red routes) in Wandsworth will not be repaired until they are “safety critical”.
They also confirmed that over the next two years spending on routine maintenance on the borough’s red routes will be cut to zero.
Funding from TfL to support the council’s routine maintenance of main roads in Wandsworth that are not red routes will also be cut to zero in 2018/19 and 2019/20.
Funding pledges to transport schemes in Wandsworth worth around £600,000 have been lost next year with TfL warning that the same can be expected the following year.
And in another blow to South London commuters it’s been announced that plans to provide modernised new trains on the Northern Line have also been deferred to an as yet undeclared date.
In his letter to the minister, Cllr Govindia warns: “Your appointment comes at a crucial time for London’s transport infrastructure given that we are faced with the unprecedented reduction in the routine maintenance of London’s roads.
“TfL has indicated that there will be no routine maintenance of London’s major roads (red routes) for the next two years. At the same time they are cutting to zero the funding available to boroughs to maintain our roads. This is a significant and uncalled for reversal of business plans which were only agreed less than two years ago.
“I am sure you will agree that this is a critical situation for London that will have a significant impact on the quality of our roads. The idea that money on major roads will only be spent when there is a ‘critical need’ is fool-hardy.
“I would be grateful if this could be given your earliest attention but I also have a proposal to consider as a way forward in the future. Outside of London local authorities receive grants for road maintenance direct from the Government. It would seem to me that there is a case for this to happen in London as well, giving efficient councils like mine the ability to use resources in the most effective manner and free from the financial ineptitude shown at City Hall.”
Speaking separately the council’s transport spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook added: “Some desperately needed projects to keep Londoners on the move are either being axed completely or drastically scaled back.
“The idea that TfL will spend money repairing red routes only when they become dangerous is totally short-sighted and bad news for cyclists in particular.
“Transport chiefs at City Hall need to draw up some sensible business plans that don’t short-change London’s transport network.”