Alexander Ehmann

Liberal Democrat Councillor for St Margaret's and North Twickenham Learn more

TfL Consultation: A316 Footbridge Removal – A Bridge Too Far

by alexanderehmann on 20 June, 2014

There has been a lot of online (and offline) discussion of the Transport for London (TfL) proposal to remove the footbridge at St Margaret’s roundabout and replace it with a system of Toucan crossings (for cyclists and pedestrians).  Indeed, I and my fellow Councillors in St Margaret’s and North Twickenham have had a number of residents raise concerns about the proposal.

A little over a week ago, when the consultation went live on the TfL website we distributed the news as widely as possible on social media and in that same spirit of encouraging participation in the process, my fellow councillors and I will be out and about, delivering our local ‘Comments’ over the next few days –  ensuring that local residents hear about the proposal and have a chance to respond.

The consultation is live until the 4th July 2014 and is available here:

Your local Liberal Democrat Councillors, Alexander Ehmann, Geoff Acton and Ben Khosa discuss the footbridge proposals with local parents and children of St Stephen's Junior School

Your local Liberal Democrat Councillors, Alexander Ehmann, Geoff Acton and Ben Khosa discuss the footbridge proposals with local parents and children of St Stephen’s Junior School

The overwhelming feedback we’ve had so far is that the proposal prompts some serious concerns about pedestrian safety – particularly for young school children commuting too and from schools in the area.  My fellow Liberal Democrat Councillors and I have been very clear that any changes had to reassure local people that they were at least as safe for pedestrians as the existing arrangements and that they would ideally have no negative effect along traffic-flows on the A316.

The current consultation, sadly, doesn’t offer any of these necessary reassurances and as a result we are calling on TfL to withdraw their plans.  The consultation fails to provide the necessary components of a fair consultation in 6 specific ways:

1 – There is no clear explanation for the reason to consult on the existing footbridge’s removal.  Was the matter triggered by local residents, other interests or TfL concerns about the current state of the bridge (which at least cosmetically seems in better repair than many other footbridges in the ward).

2 – The consultation should include a satisfactory range of potential alternatives to the proposed Toucan crossings.  Options that should have been considered and consulted on include (but are not exclusive to) retention of the bridge, replacement of the bridge with a step-free access over-crossing, installation of an underpass and co-location of a bridge (new or existing) and a surface crossing.

3 – The consultation (having considered a broader range of options) should have transparently set out the potential cost associated with them.  There is a widely held view among residents that the present Toucan crossing suggestion is at heart, motivated by cost rather than efficacy.  Regardless of whether this is true, for consultation to prove meaningful, such information should have been provided to consultees.

4 – The consultation makes no reference to any research or assessment of the current use of the footbridge.  It would appear that no such audit has been undertaken.  Important considerations that should have been considered and shared with residents through the consultation are:

(a) What is current footfall over the footbridge?

(b) When are the daily peaks in terms of footbridge usage?

(c) How many users have accessibility requirements that hinder/prohibit their use of the bridge?

(d) How many footbridge users are ‘vulnerable’ pedestrians – notably children?

(e) How much use does the footbridge get during events at the Rugby Football Union (RFU) site? Is a certain capacity necessary for event days?

5 – Because the consultation fails to provide information on footfall and usage of the existing footbridge, the consultation also fails to provide any information on the capacity that the proposed Toucan crossings would provide and thereby their ability to handle the number of pedestrians seeking to cross the road.  This is of particular concern with regard to children seeking to cross the A316 to get, to and from school.

6 – The consultation fails to provide any information on traffic flow impacts of the proposed introduction of Toucan crossings.  Clearly, moving from a non-invasive footbridge to a surface crossing will interrupt the flow of traffic to some degree. The precise effects on the free-flow of traffic along the A316 has not been provided for residential consideration.

So, your Liberal Democrat councillors are asking Richmond Council Leader, Cllr Lord True and Richmond Cabinet Member for Transport, Cllr Stephen Speak to back residents’ call for a reappraisal of the consultation.  Ultimately, because the decision is a TfL one, those with the most ability to act are our representatives at the Greater London Assembly – and most notably the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.  Your Liberal Democrat councillors have asked the Mayor to intervene in this case and with the support of Richmond Council’s leadership we should have every chance of parking this inept consultation until the correct analysis and a wider range of options have been provided to local residents.

Please add your voice to those calling for the withdrawal of the current consultation by signing the community petition at:

Of course, feel free to let me know your views directly too at

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