Croydon Town Centre Chaos

The last couple of days has seen  chaos in Croydon Town Centre due to emergency road works on Wellesley Rd, just a few days before the Cabinet discusses on Monday the plans to co-ordinate the infrastructure works associated with all the developments in the area as part of an up-date on the Growth Plan.

This is the explanation of the situation sent to me by Stuart King, the Cabinet member responsible for traffic matters, in response to an email I sent to the Council Leader Tony Newman.

‘Firstly, your email is correct in that the problems you encountered yesterday were the result of an emergency incident and not planned works.  I have set out the details of that emergency below.

Wellesley Road was partially closed (northbound) due to a cavity being identified whilst undertaken the public realm improvement works. We took immediate action to close the road due to the risk to the public and have put emergency provisions in place to deal with this. This was the right thing to do. Council staff and contractors met with the major utility companies onsite yesterday afternoon to check and ensure their apparatus is safe and there is no imminent risk of damage to this. Where possible we will keep one lane northbound open to ease the disruption. We are currently in discussion with Tfl to seek actions to minimise congestion for all road users.

Thus far our investigation has identified the cavity is from the centre island and goes across the northbound carriageway towards the exit ramp of Whitgift Car Park and is some 1.8m deep approximately 16 metres long and 8 meters wide.

Whilst the cause could be a number of reasons we currently believe it’s probable as a result of the old redundant tramway ducting which was abandoned in the 1950s which has acted as a conduit for ground water to wash away the subsoil although this is not confirmed.

The teams are working around the clock and will continue to do so to minimise the disruption and length of time the closure is needed. The council’s communications team will continue to update the public as things develop.

In respect of your concerns that “None of this bodes well for the future co-ordination of the Town Centre”, I must disagree. The forthcoming cabinet paper on the growth zone that you refer to sets out how the authority intends to coordinate matters to ensure that our town centre stays “open for business”. It will be a big challenge, but I am confident it is one we will rise to.

I have copied Steve Iles (Wellesley Rd incident) and Heather Cheesebrough (coordinating development in town centre) into this reply, as they are best placed to respond to any specific technical points you may have.’

My email (7 July) to the Council Leader

‘On Monday night the Cabinet is considering a paper which examines how the infrastructure works are co-ordinated so the Town Centre remains a working area minimising disruption.

Late yesterday afternoon and early evening saw chaos in the Town Centre with buses e.g. from Norbury terminating at West Croydon. Apparently this was due to emergency road works. The 60 bus outside the Town Hall normally heading for Streatham  terminated at West Croydon. There was no advice to passengers about how they could complete their journeys. It did not look as if passengers who decided to go to West Croydon and hope to pick up a bus there were being given transfer tickets. The bus stop opposite the Station entrance has no time display so nobody knew whether or when buses heading south would come.  I decided to take the train, which of course is not an option for those on low pay who depend on buses. Needless to say Southern proved yet again that it cannot run a service properly. There was a long wait for the next train to Norbury and it was over 10 minutes behind schedule.

Getting into Croydon Town Centre by bus down London Rd is becoming more and more difficult an frustrating. The way in which the stretch from Sumner Rd has been narrowed through the shops has increased congestion and traffic snarl. It only takes a problem of a bus breakdown or a bus/car incident to completely block one lane. It also appears that buses find it difficult to pass by each other because of the narrowness of the lanes.

None of this bodes well for the future co-ordination of the Town Centre; and does not give the public confidence that the Council and its partners will be able to keep the the free flow of people in and out of the Town Centre. With the closure of Fairfield Halls from 15 July and then the Whitgift Centre after the New Year there will be much less to attract people into Croydon especially if they thin or experience continual problems with travelling to and from and through it.’

Steve Iles Explanation

Steve Iles has sent the following message to Councillors, copied by Cllr Maggie Mansell to Norbury Residents committee members.

‘As you may be aware Wellesley Road has been partially closed (northbound) due to a cavity being identified whilst undertaken the public realm improvement works. We took immediate action to close the road due to the risk to the public and have put emergency provisions in place to deal with this. The council staff and  contractor met with the major utility companies onsite yesterday afternoon to check and ensure their apparatus is safe and there is no imminent risk of damage to this. Where possible we will be keeping one lane northbound open to ease the disruption. We are currently in discussion with Tfl to seek actions to minimise congestion for all road users.

Thus far our investigation has identified the cavity is from the centre island and goes across the northbound carriageway towards the exit ramp of Whitgift Car Park and is some 1.8m deep approximately 16 metres long and 8 meters wide.

Whilst the cause could be a number of reasons we currently believe it’s probable as a result of the old redundant tramway ducting which was abandoned in the 1950s which has acted as a conduit for ground water to wash away the subsoil although this is not confirmed.

The teams are working around the clock and will continue to do so to minimise the disruption and length of time the closure is needed, our current estimation is the road is likely to remain closed for the next 3-4 days, this is subject to no further issues being identified. The network management team are liaising with the comms team regarding the wider communications and will continue to update as things develop.

If things change I will provide you with a further update.’

 

 

 

 

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About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly, and am a member of the latter's Environment Forum. I am a member of the 5 Norbury Residents Associations Joint Planning Committee, and a Governor of Norbury Manor Primary School. I write for Croydon Citizen at http://thecroydoncitizen.com. I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and advise the North East People's History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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