Greenwich and Woolwich Foot Tunnels
City Hall has finally accepted that it needs to ensure that Greenwich Council finishes the refurbishment of Greenwich and Woolwich Foot Tunnels. An £11.5 million scheme within the Thames Gateway project to bring the once-loved Foot Tunnels into the 21st century turned sour when the money ran out. The Greenwich Tunnel had new lifts in time for the Olympics but, since they continue to be erratic, the half boarded up stairwells have become a nightmare for pedestrians and cyclists. The poor relation of Woolwich Tunnel has not even got the hint of a new lift, just scaffolding for three years.
For more than a year work has been stalled, the grant being exhausted, while the Royal Borough of Greenwich initiated an enquiry into what went wrong. After another six months we still do not know. Nor would the agencies originally responsible for monitoring expenditure own up to their responsibility. First it was the Homes and Communities Agency who passed the project on to the Greater London Authority in 2011.
The Mayor's Office originally denied ownership of the scheme. It has now relented and the GLA promises to monitor work on both Foot Tunnels. Meanwhile Greenwich is considering if it can legally recover some of the expenditures from any of the three contractors, Dean and Dyball Civil Engineering, Messrs Sweett, and Hyder Consulting Ltd.
The London Assembly Member, Len Duval, has referred the project to the GLA Audit process and the District Auditor. We must all hope he gets answers. The NAO conducted a satisfactory audit of the whole Thames Gateway project but our money for the tunnels needs to be properly accounted for. More importantly, the works need to be completed, preferably before the next London Olympics.
So, if you value either tunnel, contact your Greater London Assembly Member and ask what is being done to ensure the refurbishment is completed.