Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Transport for London have halted work on the proposed walking and cycling bridge across the Thames at Rotherhithe after costs escalated.

Support for the bridge was included in Mr Khan’s manifesto at the 2016 mayoral election but the project has now been dropped.

News of the policy change was revealed in a letter from Heidi Alexander, deputy mayor for transport, to Florence Eshalomi, chair of the London Assembly transport committee.

“While the Mayor is investing hundreds of millions of pounds enabling more walking and cycling in East London, the estimated cost of this project has now increased to around half a billion pounds,” said a spokesman for the Mayor.

“TfL have used all of their expertise to try and lower the costs of a viable new bridge at this site, but it would now cost substantially more than the money allocated in the Business Plan. Pausing work is now the sensible and responsible thing to do to protect the London taxpayer.

“TfL are now exploring options for a new fast ferry at the site that can be used by cyclists and pedestrians, and we continue to use the record amounts being invested in Healthy Streets to make walking and cycling easier and safer across the capital.”

Last month we reported that TfL was trying to cut the cost of the scheme.

Responding to the news, Florence Eshalomi AM said: “This announcement will be hugely disappointing for Southwark residents who have been enthusiastically supportive of TfL’s plans for the crossing.

“With such a major infrastructure project now on hold, which would be vital to boosting our local economy and opening up our city’s transport links to cyclists and pedestrians, I will be writing to TfL, alongside local councillors, to ask for answers on how the projected costs have risen so significantly.

“This a financial decision, so it must also be remembered that TfL have been placed in an incredibly difficult situation with the Government taking the reckless decision to remove £700 million a year on average from their budget. As result, TfL has now become one of the only transport authorities in the world not to receive a Government operational grant for day-to-day running costs”.

Southwark Council leader Peter John tweeted: “We will be challenging TfL on this proposed decision and asking tough questions about why a Mayoral pledge can so easily be cast aside.”

Earlier this year Lambeth & Southwark London Assembly member Florence Eshalomi tabled this question to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan: “Many of my constituents are concerned about the daily overcrowding at Canada Water station and their safety when waiting for a train. What are you doing to address this?”

Mr Khan’s response has now been published by City Hall:

“The safety of customers and staff is always Transport for London’s (TfL) top priority, and TfL does all it can to ensure that customers travel safely at all times.

“Canada Water can get very busy, but staff are trained to carefully manage passenger flows at the station to ensure a safe travel environment and minimum inconvenience for customers. An additional Customer Service Supervisor is also available at the station just to concentrate on passenger flows during the AM peak.

“The London Overground currently provides a 16 trains per hour service in each direction and platform crowding is cleared as quickly as possible. TfL is also looking at a number of possible mitigation measures to help ease the crowding on escalators to the Jubilee line at Canada Water which we know can get particularly busy.

“Improvements are already addressing crowding along the Jubilee line. A timetable change in 2018 increased evening peak services between West Hampstead and North Greenwich. Jubilee line trains are now running a peak service for an extra two hours per day, easing congestion at key stations like Canary Wharf, Waterloo and Canada Water.

“TfL’s investment programme is playing a vital role in supporting London’s growth. Providing Londoners with a range of high-quality alternative travel options will also help ease crowding at key locations like Canada Water.

“For example, when the Elizabeth line opens, it will serve more than half a million customers a day and add 10 per cent more capacity in central London. It may also help ease crowding at Canada Water if passengers change at Whitechapel to get to onward destinations such as Canary Wharf, Stratford and the West End. TfL’s modernisation of signalling on vast parts of the Tube network, new and more frequent trains, and the upgrade of stations like Victoria, Bank and Elephant & Castle are also critical, to relieve pressure on the Tube, and enable London to meet growing demand. TfL is also investing record amounts in walking and cycling, to support efficient and healthy ways to get around the city and realise my vision of Healthy Streets for London.”

Earlier this year we reported on plans to introduce charges for car parking in Southwark Park and other green spaces in the borough.

The council is currently running a public consultation (till 13 May) and Cllr Rebecca Lury – the deputy council leader whose portfolio includes parks – insisted at a recent overview & scrutiny committee meeting (video above) that no final decision to introduce charges has been made.

However, income from the new fees is included in the council’s budget for the current financial year.

Plans to close the London Overground ticket offices at Rotherhithe and Surrey Quays have been abandoned.

Rotherhithe councillors were among those who objected to the proposals which were also criticised by the London TravelWatch watchdog.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I am proud of the service the London Overground provides to hundreds of thousands of Londoners every day, and it is vital that we ensure stations across the network continue to operate in a way that best serves the needs of everyone travelling across the capital.

“Proposals were being considered that would have resulted in the permanent loss of 27 ticket offices. However, having listened closely to the views of passengers and to the hard-working staff working at our stations I have asked TfL to ensure that no ticket officers will be closed permanently, and the busiest ticket offices will remain open to passengers exactly as they do now.

“TfL will carry on working closely with Arriva Rail and transport staff to ensure any changes in how stations operate and the adoption of new technology truly has a beneficial impact for all the Londoners who rely on the service every day.”

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “This is a significant victory for RMT members at the front line of the London Overgroundservice who led the campaign to stop this ticket office carnage and jacked up the political pressure to reverse the cuts. 

“It proves that trade union campaigning works. 

“However we remain vigilant as in our experience once a package of cuts is proposed they remain an option in the longer term. Any backsliding will result in a new blast of pressure from this trade union and our national campaign to staff our stations and retain ticket offices continues.” ‎


Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has defended plans to build a bridge across the Thames linking Rotherhithe with Canary Wharf.

Mr Khan was speaking at the People’s Question Time event in Bexley on Thursday night where he was challenged from the floor about plans for a “£400 million vanity bridge” at Rotherhithe.

The Mayor said: “I don’t apologise for wanting to make sure that we have a cycle and pedestrian bridge at Canary Wharf and Rotherhithe.

“Actually it was one of the campaigns that Caroline Pidgeon talked about during the mayoral campaign.

“I was initially not sure of my views but was persuaded during the mayoral campaign that it was a good idea.

“We have worked cross-party to get this scheme up and running.”

Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon said: “It’s so important for pedestrians and cyclists to be able to cross the Thames.

“At the moment on this side of London you have a choice: you go through the Rotherhithe Tunnel – literally taking your life into your own hands – or you have to trek further east and go through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel.

“We need to make sure that people can get across the Thames in a healthy, safe way.

“I think this is a fantastic project and it will be a real triumph for London to see a brand new bridge at that location.”

This week we reported that Canary Wharf Group is opposing the bridge and favours an improved ferry service instead.

Cllr Jasmine Ali, cabinet member for children, schools and adult care, was joined by Neil Coyle MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, to mark the official opening of Albion Primary School.

Albion Primary School now has capacity for 420 pupils after the school was completely rebuilt.

Next month the council’s cabinet will award a contract for the construction of new homes on part of the former school site, with work due to start next year.

Making the most of every bit of space available was central to the redesign of the school and this extends to the roof. There is a new, fully accessible, roof terrace with an artificial grass playing pitch, which will be used as a further outdoor learning space but doubles as a play area.

Cllr Jasmine Ali, cabinet member for children, schools and adult care, said: “One of the real stand-out successes of Southwark Council’s investments into local schools is that education teams have been able to create schools that fit their needs. At Albion Primary School, pupils and staff have a school that works for them. The school is really impressive and the investments from Southwark Council has helped provide an excellent space to teach and learn. Alongside the quality of the school, which has been recognised by industry bodies, there are now more, much needed primary school places. Thanks to the expansion of the school, I am pleased to say that Albion will now be able to welcome 210 more pupils through its gates.”

Karl Bardouille, headteacher of Albion Primary School, said: “Albion has worked closely with Southwark Council and the architects to ensure our children have the best possible facilities .We wanted to ensure that the new school would give the children bigger classrooms, a more accessible building and more common areas that would ensure the best opportunities to deliver our creative curriculum. We are all delighted with the extra teaching and learning space that will help us live up to our motto ‘Learn to do Well’”.

Plans to revitalise the Blue have received a £2.3 million boost from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund.

The funds will help Southwark Council, the Blue Bermondsey Business Improvement District and Community Opportunity continue their work to enhance the market and cluster of shops at the heart of South Bermondsey.

City Hall says that the grant will support efforts to “turn Bermondsey’s historic town centre and street market into a thriving area, building on the Blue’s identity as the ‘Larder of London’”.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “These projects aim to give Londoners of all backgrounds the opportunity to be actively involved in shaping how their city grows and delivering more places to live, learn, work and play.

“I’m so impressed by the range of bids we received – this is testament to the creativity and ingenuity in London’s diverse communities.

“I’m committed to supporting ‘good growth’ by building a city where all Londoners have access to the same opportunities and I look forward to seeing all the positive impacts these projects will have in the future.”

Bermondsey residents living near the ‘super sewer’ site at Chambers Wharf are being invited to have their say on how cash from the project should be spend to improve local open spaces and play facilities.

The project area is shown on the image below. The play study covers the whole area whilst the environmental improvements are focused on the Dickens Estate.

“It’s easy to get involved,” said project team member Julia Plumb. “It’s your area, so tell us what you like or don’t like about the play spaces and green areas, and what you’d like to see happen to them.”

The online survey is available until 11 November.