On Monday 21 October 2013, representatives of the recently formed Friends of Greenwich and Woolwich Foot Tunnels held an exploratory meeting with the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
The aim of this initial meeting was to introduce the community group to the authority responsible for the management and maintenance of the foot tunnels, and discuss the long-delayed completion of the multi-million-pound refurbishment works.
Fogwoft chair Dr Mary Mills and secretary Ian Blore met with council cabinet member Denise Hyland and transport executive Tim Jackson, who announced that work on both tunnels will resume next week, to be completed by Spring 2014, as per the original project specification if not timeline.
New lifts are to be installed at Woolwich, and without the shatter-prone glass doors of the Greenwich tunnel lifts. We were also informed that the remaining cupolas will be renovated, lighting improved, the stairwell of the Greenwich tunnel restored, and both tunnels deep-cleaned.
Important to note is that throughout the month of November, the Greenwich tunnel will close overnight between 20:00 and 05:00. The two barriers in the tunnel will also be removed, and the public consulted on how best to encourage more considerate use of the tunnels.
On an immediate practical level, the council is keen to hear users’ views on whether to deep-clean the existing tunnel wall tiles, or completely retile both tunnels. Those with an opinion on this matter are asked to comment directly to Fogwoft at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will then assess the balance of opinion and pass this on to the council. Fully retiling the tunnel walls may be disruptive, but some Fogwoft members have proposed using the walls as an art gallery, or possibly have a frieze of images depicting life in maritime Greenwich and Docklands.
In addition to the remaining refurbishment work, Dr Mills and Mr Blore raised the issue of contractual problems which resulted in the dismissal of a consortium including the firms Hyder Consulting, Sweett, and Dean & Dyball. Last week saw the long-awaited publication of John Willmoth’s hard-hitting inquiry report into the tunnel renovation debacle.
Councillor Hyland and Mr Jackson say that the Greenwich tunnel will be fully refurbished by the end of March 2014, and the Woolwich tunnel by the end of April. Apart, that is, from some minor works to both.
Fogwoft welcomes the new tunnel refurbishment schedule, and approves of the planned scope of the work to be carried out between now and April 2014. We also look forward to further improvements in both tunnels, with the Royal Borough of Greenwich consulting widely among all user groups.
A meeting has been scheduled for early December to assess the progress of the renovation work.
(Issued 22nd Oct 2013)