Southwark Council leader hits back at Lib Dem critics of huge outlay on stalled Elephant and Castle station upgrade

Katherine Johnston (07 December, 2021)

But despite Cllr Kieron Williams' strong support for the station upgrade, he refused to rule out the Lib Dems' tram idea

46558Southwark Council leader Kieron Williams

Southwark Council’s Labour leader has hit back at Liberal Democrat criticism of the tens of millions of pounds Southwark has given to Transport for London (TfL) for the Elephant and Castle upgrade, despite the station’s uncertain future.

As we have reported, Lib Dem councillor Damian O’Brien asked council leader Kieron Williams whether the £63m Southwark is contributing to the station would be better off taken back and put into a tram network – as TfL has said it cannot pay for its part of the station amid post-Covid money troubles.

But Cllr Williams has committed again to the works, which he described as “a marathon and not a sprint”. He said that the station upgrade is not “just about delivering the Bakerloo Line Extension”, which would have run from Elephant and Castle down the Old Kent Road, but has since been shelved indefinitely – despite being key to supporting the tens of thousands of new homes planned for the area.

Elephant and Castle: Lib Dems repeat calls for trams as TfL confirm they are unable to make Southwark Council’s £63m station upgrade ‘operational’

“It is also about making the station safe and accessible for everyone using the station today,” Cllr Williams added. “As well as the thousands of additional people who will need to use it as new shops, offices and homes are built around Elephant to meet the needs of our growing population and economy.

“It has always been a central part of the renewal of the area, and will help deliver much-needed jobs, a new university campus and community facilities such as the Castle Leisure Centre.”

Despite Cllr Williams’ strong support for the station upgrade, he refused to rule out Cllr O’Brien’s tram idea.

£25m for new buses along Old Kent Road despite TfL money woes

He said that the council would continue to make the “very strong case” for the Bakerloo Line Extension, but would also explore other transport possibilities in the area, “with no options being taken off the table”. As we reported last week, TfL is also negotiating £25m from developers for new bus services on the Old Kent Road.

Cllr O’Brien said in response: “The upshot is that the Bakerloo Line Extension has been kicked into the weeds and TfL have admitted that they haven’t yet secured the level of funding they need to redevelop the Elephant & Castle ticket hall. Both projects would have been an enormous benefit to Southwark residents and while it is acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic is at the root cause of these delays, we hope the mayor can negotiate an agreeable deal with [transport secretary] Grant Shapps to get these projects back on track.”

Sadiq Khan threatens Tube and bus cuts unless government hands TfL more billions

TfL’s current short-term funding agreement with the government ends this week and the deadline for a new deal is Saturday (December 11). But negotiations could go on beyond this, with the current deal rolled over, if no agreement is reached on time.

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