Meeting told date still not set but preparations underway
The impending closure of Putney Bridge for essential repairs was discussed at a meeting held on April 3 at St Mary's Church.
The meeting, updating local businesses on preparations for the forthcoming closure was arranged by local Councillors Jim Maddan, Rosemary Torrington and Mike Ryder, in conjunction with the Putney Town Centre Partnership Board.
In September, Wandsworth Council decided to put out to tender a contract to upgrade the bridge after being presented with a report showing that both the surface of the bridge and underneath needed repair work.
The work includes a complete resurfacing of the road over the Grade II listed bridge, which was built in 1886 from a design by Sir Joseph Bazalgette.
No date has yet been set for the closure but Cllr Jim Maddan, who chaired the meeting says that the discussion included the reasons for these essential works and the time scales for the closure, together with the proposed working arrangements. The proposals for re-routing of buses and the mechanisms for reclaiming business rates were also discussed.
Councillors undertook to provide a comprehensive communications strategy as soon as the arrangements are finalised. This will include signage on the main routes into the town centre, leaflet drops in all surrounding areas including transport hubs, use of local radio and digital media and use of the Internet.
Says Cllr Maddan: "There is no doubt that the bridge closure will impact on residents and businesses alike but if properly managed, there is an opportunity for businesses to widen their catchment area to the south and west and having attracted new customers, we will work hard to keep them coming back time and again. The message is 'Putney is open for business'."
Last year Wandsworth Council carried out a consultation over two options for the closure: totally closing the bridge for around six months, or alternatively, a longer project with partial closure for around 11 months. The bridge will remain open to pedestrians whichever option is chosen.
At the time, Wandsworth Council's transport spokesman, Cllr Russell King said: "We think that keeping the disruption down to the shortest time possible will be preferable to local businesses and the travelling public. That is why we are inclined towards a six month timetable rather than one that would take almost twice as long. The consultation will allow us to assess whether this is the case."
However, this led to a row with neighbouring Hammersmith and Fulham Council with leader Cllr Nicholas Botterill saying that closing the bridge entirely would be "a disaster".
He said: "The main routes into and out of our borough are incredibly busy with huge volumes of traffic, notably the road connecting Fulham with Putney and if the bridge were to shut completely for six months that would be a disaster.
"It would cause a terrible knock-on effect for the rest of the entire borough, both on our roads and on our already jammed tube trains. While we understand this work must be done we want to see it happen over 11 months, which would cause less disruption for our borough, residents and people who work in H&F."
H & F Council said that the six month plan would cost £1.5 million while the alternative plan, allowing a single lane of traffic to still cross the bridge would cost Wandsworth’s taxpayers an additional £350,000.
April 6, 2014