Lawyers challenge Olympia bridge closure
Thursday June 28, 2012
Photograph by Joshua Brown (used under Creative Commons Public Licence)
Council lawyers are challenging plans to close a footbridge over Kensington Olympia station on the basis that it is an established public right of way.
Transport for London (TfL) announced plans to install ticket barriers at the entrances to Olympia Overground station last week in a bid to tackle fare evasion.
However, the current TfL plans would mean that an established public right of way – between Russell Road and Olympia Way – would effectively be closed.
Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council backs TfL’s moves to target fare dodgers but argues that this should not be at the expense of residents in H&F and neighbouring Kensington and Chelsea.
The law says that for a route to be established as a public right of way there must be evidence that it has been used for at-least 20 years.
60 residents have now written to the council to say they have been using the footbridge as a pedestrian route for at-least 20 years and some residents have said they recall waving to troops, who were returning from Dunkirk, from the footbridge in 1939.
Cllr Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler, H&F Cabinet Member for Transport and Technical Services, says: “The council believes that there is strong evidence to prove that a public right of way exists over the Olympia footbridge.
“A large number of residents have written to say that they have used the bridge uninterruptedly for over twenty years and our lawyers are talking to TfL in the hope that common sense will prevail.”
The council argues that it would be possible to install the ticket barriers on the platforms so that they are nearer the tracks – which would maintain the right of way over the footbridge.
TfL have so far ignored the council’s advice and instead dreamt up a complicated permit system where some selected residents from the area will be allocated paper tickets coded to only work at the Olympia gates. Residents in a tightly designated area will need to prove their address and permits will not be issued to residents’ visitors or people from just outside the area.
TfL managers faced an angry backlash to the permit scheme, which would severely limit access to the bridge, at a meeting at the station last week.
Cllr Brocklebank-Fowler concludes: “We are urging TfL to re-think their whole approach and revisit the option to simultaneously maintain the public right of way and reduce fare evasion.”