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Greenwich Council foot tunnel fiasco to be watched by City Hall
GREENWICH cyclists have welcomed City Hall’s decision to monitor the "appalling" fiasco of Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels.
Greenwich Council admitted the scale of problems to the stalled £11.5m refurbishment - which started more than three years ago - and launched an internal inquiry last October.
Now London Assembly member for Greenwich and Lewisham Len Duvall has taken the case to the Mayor of London’s auditors to oversee the botched project.
The former Greenwich Council leader said: "What took place over the work on the foot tunnels work should not have happened.
"My intervention is to make the GLA take its responsibilities seriously, not just ‘shrug their shoulders’ when public money from bodies that have since become part of the GLA is involved.
"There are lessons for us to learn at the GLA and I hope that Greenwich Council are equally keen to ensure that events like this don’t occur in the future.
"Most importantly Greenwich need to press on with the completion of the works - monitored closely by the GLA - to ensure that both foot tunnels are accessible to everyone."
Campaigners Greenwich Cyclists raised the issue with Mr Duvall after both tunnels remain in poor condition with no lifts in the Woolwich tunnel and unreliable ones at Greenwich - forcing cyclists to often haul their bikes up the narrow stairwell.
Greenwich Cyclists coordinator Anthony Austin told News Shopper: "I think it is long overdue that somebody from outside Greenwich Council is taking responsibility and taking the council to account for the public money which has been spent on these tunnels.
"It’s always been our view that the project was mismanaged.
"I continue to be appalled at the state of them."
Greenwich Council took over the project in late 2011 after original contractors Dean and Dyball Civil Engineering failed to reach their Christmas deadline of that year.
A Greenwich Council spokeswoman apologised for the ongoing inconvenience and said the council is taking legal advice about getting public money back from the project. There is no fixed timetable for work to be completed as yet.
She said: "The council is in on-going negotiations with the previous contractors and is progressing the procurement of works to complete the outstanding aspects of the project.
"The council is taking account of specialist legal and technical advice in pursuing this matter.
The council is very keen to progress these works as fast as possible but needs to protect public money as far as possible by concluding the negotiations and procurement appropriately.
"The council regrets the inconvenience this continues to cause and is working to get the tunnels project completed as soon as possible.
"However at this stage no firm timetable can be set. The council will release information on the works programme as soon as it can."
She added: "The council accepts it is responsible for the foot-tunnels project. The GLA has no direct involvement."
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