Council turn on TfL over tram construction sites
Liberal Democrats accuse them of being TfL's 'poodle'
Ealing Council has told Transport for London to go back to the drawing board over its plans to build construction depots on sensitive sites throughout the borough. The original publication of the plans led to an angry reaction as it emerged that construction sites would be dotted over the borough and that little or no prior consultation had taken place.
Twyford School were unaware that part of their recreational area was to be replaced by a site, the Council had just concluded a consultation on the future of Dicken's Yard when it was revealed that this was a planned site and Shepherd's Bush Cricket Club's future was called into question due to plan to use the area on which they were hoping to build a new pavilion.
The lack of consultation had so incensed Hammersmith and Fulham Council that, on learning of a football pitch sized compound planned for Shepherd's Bush Green, they withdrew their support for the project. Hillingdon Council have also withdrawn support for the project.
The result has been public falling out between Ealing Council and Transport for London (TfL) in which the Council accused Tfl of not consulting them about their plans. Cllr. Ray Wall, cabinet member for transport and planning policy, is now insisting that TfL conduct proper consultations with stakeholders over the proposed sites.
He said that he understood the annoyance expressed by local people and conceded that the proposals had not been properly thought through. He added, "The breakdown in communication about the way these sites have been chosen is simply unacceptable. It is of paramount importance that proper consideration is given to local residents in the discussions process so that any disruption can be kept to a minimum. Some of the proposed sites are totally inappropriate."
Calling on TfL to involve the Council at the highest level, he said, "The council is set to become a joint promoter of the Tram to ensure the borough and its residents' views are represented, and to stop TfL moving ahead with the Tram without council involvement. Being a joint promoter of the Tram is very important to Ealing Council as it enables us to resolve issues like this with TfL and make sure our residents get a fair deal and their interests are represented."
Councillor Gary Malcolm, Lib Dem Transport spokesperson, called on Cllr. Wall to resign over the issue and accused the Council of either lying to save face (and then being caught out) or being totally incompetent. He claims that a few weeks ago when the sites for the electricity substations and areas to be used for storing building materials were announced the council said they had been consulted.
He said, "the Council cannot state they are in a joint agreement with Transport for London which supposedly allows the council and TfL to discuss things at an early stage – and then turn around and say they were not consulted! This dispute between the Council and TfL shows that the joint agreement is useless and Ealing Council is now seen as the poodle of TfL. The Council should scrap the tram plan now before money is wasted."
Conservative Transport Spokesman, Cllr Will Brooks referred to newspaper reports in which Christopher Dean, the tram project director for TfL said that Ealing Council had been consulted and that it was their responsibility to point out possible issues such as the location of a school. Cllr. Brooks added, “the whole justification for spending hundreds of thousands of pounds of Council tax payers money and becoming a joint promoter was that the Council could communicate and stand up for local interests. It is a bit rich for the Council to now blame all the failures for consultation on TfL. "
The tram project has reportedly cost £20 million so far with no construction work having taken place and final approval subject to a public enquiry. The Council say they continue to support it due to the benefits it will bring to the local economy and transport system.
October 28, 2005