15 January 2008

Hands off Shepherds Bush

Tory MP Greg Hands isn't the Member of Parliament for Shepherds Bush but it hasn't stopped him supporting the closure of Shepherds Bush Central Line station.

The closure for at least eight months from February will affect tens of thousands of local residents and scores of businesses. Thousands of people have signed petitions against the closure. But still Greg Hands and the Tory council are happy to support it.

You can be certain that Hands would have opposed any station closing in his own constituency. So why do the dirty on Shepherds Bush residents?

Hands also accuses those campaigning to keep the station open of 'political opportunism'. Which of course Hands knows nothing about - after all, his election campaign in 2005 was based on scaremongering about the so-called closure of Charing Cross Hospital which, surprise, surprise, three years later is not just open but is flourishing.


Anonymous said...

Given that the station would have had to have closed shortly when the escalators were refurbished in any event, what would you have done then?

Left the escalators to break and expect people to walk up them?

hfconwatch said...

If only life were that simple. Collusion between London Underground, Westfield and H&F Council is going to hit thousands and thousands of local residents and scores of local businesses for the next year.

Until mid-December LU intended to rebuild the above ground part of the station without closing it. It was never a question of whether we would get a new station, only when. The money has been committed by Westfield for a long time.

There had been no mention of a closure at all. The idea of closing the station to replace the escalators only emerged in mid-December. Whether this was because the escalator works don’t have to be done for another four years or because they could also be done without a closure is unclear.

LU now say the proposed escalator works do require a closure. They have failed to explain why this is the case here but at no other major station in London. In any event it is clearly their choice to do this now rather than some years hence.

What did change in December was an ultimatum given by Westfield: get the station ready for our opening at the end of 2008. The only way this can be done is by closing it now. But he who pays the piper calls the tune – and Westfield are paying LU a great deal. In addition Westfield promised to do the escalator works for LU at the same time – an offer they couldn’t refuse.

So Westfield are happy. They get a brand new fully operational station ready to open at the same time as their shopping centre. LU are happy. They get to do all the works without the inconvenience of people using the station and someone else picks up the bill. Who isn’t happy?

Firstly, the 20,000 regular users of the station. Over 3,000 of these have already written to protest at LU’s actions. There is no easy alternative option for Shepherds Bush users and no adequate replacement services are being provided.

Secondly, the several hundred small businesses around Shepherds Bush Green. They rely on the station trade and will now suffer a double whammy. They will lose a good proportion of their trade for nine months (assuming the works don’t take longer) and then have to compete with Westfield when they are at their lowest ebb. Many believe they will not survive. So the people paying for the closure will benefit directly from the depression of their competitors’ business

What should LU do? Firstly, stand up for their paying customers and against Westfield. They should keep the station open now and look for a way to undertake all the necessary works without closure. If the station does have to close temporarily in three or four years’ time, they can give plenty of notice (not just four weeks) and plan properly for alternative services – by that time the whole transport infrastructure of Shepherds Bush will have been transformed with two new stations, others refurbished, better access routes, new bus stations and routes and the works around the green completed.

Secondly, if they do go ahead with the closure now they should invest the money they have got from Westfield to compensate those whose businesses they are destroying and putting on proper alternative services – not just a shuttle bus to White City that will take as long to get there in the rush hour as it will to walk.

Anonymous said...

Well given that the numbers using the station are forecast to double after the new shopping centre opens surely it makes perfect sense to do it now; as it will impact half as many people as doing it later?

hfconwatch said...

There seems to have been no consideration given to the massive inconvenience to thousands and thousands of local residents (let alone the local businesses) and the one alternative arrangement so far announced is just a joke. Public services should serve the public!