27 February 2009
Two weeks ago Southwark News exclusively broke the news that the East London Line Phase 2b extension through the heart of Southwark has been given the green light.
This decision has been a long-time coming and has been hard fought every inch of the way. One of the things that every MP does, behind the scenes and often over a long period of time, is to press the case on behalf of their constituents for projects such as this.
I have had meetings with two Transport Secretaries and three Transport Minsters on this subject along with discussions involving TfL, Network Rail, the East London Line Group (a consortium of local businesses and local authorities) and Ken Livingstone. There can be very few people involved in this project who are unaware of the local level of support for it. This impact has been multiplied by south London MPs including Harriet Harman, Keith Hill, Martin Linton, Kate Hoey, Joan Ruddock, along with our GLA Member, Val Shawcross, all pressing the case.
The arguments have been painstakingly pursued and the pressure has been kept up through long and detailed letters, via meetings, by verbal prods aimed at colleagues and by pressing the case with those who have influence to effect change. And finally, the agreement between TfL and the Government has been reached which is great news.
Sure, the Mayor has been much less enthusiastic about this transport project (and many others) than Ken Livingstone and he is now dithering over whether the Surrey Canal Road Station, so important for north Southwark residents, will go ahead. And yes, he's unlikely to approve extra stations on the line at Brixton or Loughborough Junction which would make great sense and which Ken supported. He's also threatening to cut a planned service from Victoria which would compensate Denmark Hill and Peckham Rye passengers for the loss of the South London Link.
So the story isn't over. Along with colleagues I will continue to press the case for my constituents and try to secure the two steps forward that the East London Line project represents without the need for the Mayor's one step back.
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