Local councillors and Islington Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Transport, Cllr Claudia Webbe, gathered this week (Wednesday 19th July) to celebrate the completion of works at Caledonian Road Station to replace both lifts whilst keeping the station open throughout.
The works, carried out by Transport for London (TfL), were originally planned to close the station completely for 8 months from January 2016 – causing massive disruption to local residents and businesses, as well as significantly impacting residents with disabilities and mobility issues who would have had to travel far further to be able to make journeys on the underground network.
However, thanks to intervention by local councillors - including the threat of legal action - and a petition supported by local residents, TfL was forced to radically changed its plans and agreed with the council that the station could remain open whilst the lifts were replaced on after the other, leaving one lift in operation throughout.
Importantly, the council’s intervention has changed TfL policy, so that in future when it considers closing a station, it will perform an equality impact assessment.
Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, commented: “I am delighted that TfL has now completed works at Caledonian Road station to install the two new lifts. When TfL announced plans to close the station for 8 months, we immediately recognised the massive impact this would have on local residents, businesses and particularly passengers with mobility issues and disabilities. We are on the side of local people, and that’s why we began legal action against the decision, which led to TfL seeing sense and subsequently agreeing to our alternative proposal that kept the station open throughout the works.
“I am really proud that we were able to work together to not only keep the station open, but that we secured agreement from TfL that they had to consider the impact of station closures from an equalities perspective in future. That’s a big change that will make a difference for many people.”
Local Holloway ward councillor, Cllr Paul Smith, added: “Keeping the station open was a great victory and just goes to show what a determined bunch of people can do when we stand up against decisions that are clearly unfair. I want to thank the 8,000 residents who signed petitions against the closure, those who attended public meetings and local businesses who spoke with us about the devastating impact closing the station would have had on their businesses and our community. The new lifts look great, and I want to also thank TfL for seeing sense and for completing these important works.”
In November 2015, TfL announced plans to close the station for 8 months from January 2016 whilst both lifts were replaced. Swift action by local councillors saw several public meetings organised before Christmas to raise awareness of the issue and to organise the campaign against the plans. A petition was presented to Jeanette Arnold AM at City Hall at the end of November 2015, calling on TfL to rethink its plans.
Shortly before Christmas, Islington Council began the process to call for a Judicial Review of TfL’s decision and the way it was taken, particularly focusing on TfL’s failure to adequately consider the impact of the closure on disabled passengers and passengers with mobility issues. The threat of legal action meant that in January 2016, TfL announced it was reviewing its plans and the works were put on hold. In March 2016, TfL announced that it had agreed with the council’s view that the works could be completed whilst keeping the station open and a revised programme of works would take place over the next 18 months.
- Pictured – Cllr O’Halloran, Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Cllr Webbe, Cllr Smith and Cllr Convery