Thursday 17 July 2008

Secret Documents Show Shepherds Bush Station Did Not Have To Close

The BBC is reporting that Shepherds Bush Tube Station need not have closed after it viewed documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Andy Slaughter MP (Lab). The official papers show that London Underground (LU) was advised that Shepherds Bush Central Line Station could remain open while all improvement works were carried out. You may still be able to view the BBC News item by clicking here (it is just over halfway through the programme).

Shepherds Bush Tube Station shut its doors in February after LU gave only four weeks notice. At the time, LU admitted that it was “unprecedented” to shut down a station like this but both they and H&F Council argued that “there was no alternative to closure”.

However, Andy Slaughter told me that the papers “contradict what both the Tory-run council and LU said to residents and shopkeepers at the time”. The papers state that “It is Metronet's view that the escalators can be replaced whilst maintaining station operation” and add “Closure is unlikely to be granted due to the weak business case involved”. You can view the documents by clicking here.

During the period running up to the closure Andy Slaughter met with LU in an effort to get them to reconsider their plans. Thousands of residents and businesses supported his campaign to keep the station open during the works and Andy won a wide range of concessions. However, LU and H&F Council refused to change their mind about the closure.

Bizarrely, Cllr. Stephen Greenhalgh (Con), the Leader of H&F Council, picketed a public meeting, arranged by Andy, and handed out leaflets from the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate justifying why the station had to close. During the meeting it became clear that Westfield had offered to project manage the escalator works if they were completed for the grand opening of their new shopping mall in October. The recently released papers confirm this and it is believed that LU and H&F Council prioritised Westfield's request over the needs of local businesses and residents.

Andy Slaughter added “There is huge anger in Shepherds Bush at the way LU and the Tory Council forced this through. Local shops have lost business and many of my constituents have been unnecessarily messed around - all seemingly to fit with the needs of the new shopping centre". You can read Andy Slaughter's full exposé by clicking here.

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