Saturday, 22 November 2014

Opening of Lea Bridge Station

Dear Masood,

Thankyou for copying through the replies from Neil Bullen about Lea Bridge station.
There are answers to a number of points which in themselves each make some sort of sense, but many of them are but starting points. I continue to have little confidence about overall co-ordination.

The junction improvement mentioned in point 3 (Lea Bridge Rd/ Orient Way) - if you remember - was presented to a Lea Bridge Community Ward Forum of about two years ago in association with plans for improvements at Bakers Arms and Markhouse/ Church Rd. Of these only Bakers Arms has been done, and this was at the cost of massive disruption to pedesrians, cyclists and buses for months on end. Am I right in thinking that the construction of the Lea Bridge Road Cycle Superhighway will now require yet more works at the Bakers Arms?

The reference to a scheme for pedestrians and cyclists being able to access the re-opened station safely is welcome, but there needs to be public consultation about this - involving people from Hackney as well as Waltham Forest. Reinstating/ building anew stairways at the southern side of the Lea Bridge road bridge would be one way to ensure a safer crossing for pedestrians but cyclists would need something more substantial to assure their safety if turning westwards towards Clapton along Lea Bridge Road after exiting the station.

As I have requested before, it would be useful if Council/TfL/Network Rail officers could attend the next Ward Forum and listen to residents' views. Is this possible please? With a completion date of December 2015 there is little time left for the proper planning of these significant changes to transport routes and facilities. I suggest that consideration is given to making part of the meeting a joint session with Lea Bridge Ward in Clapton and inviting cycle campaigners.

Many thanks,

Claire Weiss

Report from the Transport Liaison Committee:

Lea Bridge Road Station

I attended the WF Transport Liaison Group yesterday. I took the opportunity to raise the issue about the 18-month delay in the re-opening of the Lea Bridge station while Cllr Clyde Loakes (he lately of the NE London Waste Authority - defender of the Veolia contract) was present. Unfortunately but not surprisingly he also turns out to be the worst advocate for the TfL-funded Mini Holland cycle development in WF even though he is leading it - he resisted listening and taking on board quite reasonable comments and questions about the trials from residents during the meeting and became vitriolic with indiscriminate criticism and using unnecessarily emotive language, I thought.

Anyway, on Lea Bridge station he felt it necessary to tell me, making a fool of himself with his condescending attitude as he spoke, that I wouldn't imagine how complex the process was and how many agencies etc had to be involved in the re-opening of a station. He then informed the meeting that he is now chair of a cross-authority/agency transport strategic body in east London, having informed us also, without a hint of humour, that "even" he was not responsible for traffic lights in Walthamstow..... 

Now I do have some grasp of the complexities of planning and this is precisely why I continue to raise the doubts I have had about WF Council having a transport strategy that fits in with the those of other agencies eg TfL's CrossRail2 and Mini-Holland (the Lea Bridge Road Cycle Super Highway will intersect with the access to the re-designed station approach somehow).
And I feel the station re-opening is not top of anyone's priority list.

Katy pointed out the disadvantages of the proposed Lea Bridge station access/entrance being on the eastern side: it seems that bus-fuls of Clapton residents intending to travel to Stratford will be using the Lea Bridge rail connection, and the lack of a dedicated bridge or passage under the existing road bridge will mean lots of pedestrians negotiating the appalling Lea Bridge/ freight relief road intersection on the way home.

The reason for the 18-month delay was given by Loakes as the discovery of unexpected obstacles found once the planners had left their desks and actually set foot on the derelict platforms. Cllr Loakes would not accept or account that it had been remiss of the Council to have relied for their first forecasts on an original survey done by consultants who had never visited the actual location - even though the facts are documented in WF Cabinet minutes of last year.

This situation has reminded me of the so-called surveys done of Leyton Marsh in 2010/11 that deemed the land fit for supporting a temporary basketball training venue without foundations - only to find it had to be dug up at huge cost in the end.

The Chingford Line people at the meeting, who have long advocated the re-opening of Lea Bridge, pushed the question of the Hall Farm Curve reinstatement. This will logically link the Chingford/ Walthamstow/ Liverpool St line into the Lea Valley line (on which Lea Bridge Station sits) giving direct access to Stratford. The comment from Network Rail was that during the x number of years it will take to build the Hall Farm Curve, passengers from Chingford, Highams Park, Wood St, Walthamstow and St James intending to reach Stratford will at least enjoy reduced journey times courtesy of the imminent Hackney Downs/ Hackney Central walkway link. Unfortunate commuters currently make this awkward journey across the Marshes and back again, running down Amhurst Road en masse. At least they won't get so wet any more, even if the time saving of the Hackney walkway link is only 5 minutes. 

Sorry for the rant, but it does seem to me that the Marshes as an open space are increasingly subject to encroachment - not just from the threat of building over but also increased density of road and rail transport, with phalanxes of commuters criss-crossing the Lower Lea Valley to reach Westfield El Dorado. Katy's spotting of a tarmac strip by the ice rink is a case in point.

The WF Lea Bridge Community Ward Forum is on Wednesday 3rd December at the Lea Bridge Library, 6-0 for 6-30pm. We need to ensure the Cllrs are informed about the reasons for protecting the Marshes.


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