Ealing Council leader Peter Mason and deputy leader and cabinet member for climate action, Deirdre Costigan, joined with the local community, the Let’s Go Southall initiative, Transport for London (TfL), and partners in Southall to mark the official opening of the Merrick Road Footbridge last week (1 December).
The new bridge replaces an older one which has been out of service for a number of years and reopens a vital route across the railway right next to Southall Station.
It has been specifically designed to support cyclists, with a ‘Dutch ramp’ allowing bikes to be easily wheeled up and down the flights of stairs, alongside lighting and CCTV to make everyone feel as safe as possible.
Introduction of lifts and disabled access is also planned for the bridge and the council will update local people as soon as possible on these plans.
The project was funded by the council with support from the Mayor of London, and partners.
The event saw local cyclists from Let’s Go Southall join Councillor Mason on the first trip across the footbridge following its official opening.
Councillor Mason said: “This is a long-awaited moment, but we made this footbridge a priority to deliver for people in Southall and now, it is open.
“This vital link across the train line, between the north and south of the area, has been specifically designed for people getting around on foot, or by bike and is a safe and quiet route, away from the main road.”
Local people ‘at the heart of all our plans’
The opening of the Merrick Road Footbridge coincides with the launch of a new consultation designed to give anyone working, living or travelling in Southall a say in the council’s active travel plans in the area.
There are plenty of ways to get involved and you can have your say via an online consultation, which runs until 14 January 2023.
Councillor Costigan said: “This footbridge is just one of a number of improvements we are introducing to make walking and cycling safer and easier.
“At the heart of all our plans for active travel are local people. This is where you live, where you work, and it is only right that you have a say in what happens in your local neighbourhood.
“That is why we have launched the Southall Active Travel consultation. We want to understand what stops you from walking, cycling, and using public transport – and what you need, here in Southall, so that you’ll feel you can leave your car at home for those shorter journeys.
“We will be working again with Let’s Go Southall to get out and about and talk with as many local people as we can over the next few months.
“There will also be drop-in sessions taking place and of course; you can also go online to give your views.
“We allocated £10 million towards making walking, cycling, and using public transport easier. Not only here in Southall but across our seven towns. And we need to know from you how that money should be used.
‘Open, transparent, and inclusive’
Councillor Mason continued “We promised to be open, transparent, and inclusive in how we work with communities when it comes to making Ealing an even better place to live, work, visit and do business – and that’s exactly what we are doing.
“This is just the first stage of the process and once we’ve gathered your initial views and ideas, we will soon be announcing more detailed plans.
London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman, said: “The Mayor and I are determined to continue building a cleaner, greener and safer London for everyone and we know that delivering high-quality infrastructure can make a big difference in encouraging more people to walk and cycle. That’s why I am delighted to see the opening of the Merrick Road Footbridge in Ealing, as this will revitalise an important route across the railway right next to Southall Station.
“We’ve seen a huge rise in walking and cycling over recent years as more and more Londoners are using sustainable ways to get around the capital, and we will continue to work with great Councils like Ealing to introduce measures to make it easier and safer for people to walk and cycle.”
Free bikes and regular cycle training
Let’s Go Southall is a pioneering organisation uniting communities, businesses, charities and volunteers, to offer wide-ranging support for Southall residents who want to be more physically active.
This includes offering free bikes, regular cycling training and maintenance to local people participating.
Councillor Mason added: “We have been working closely with Let’s Go Southall, an amazing group of local organisations and volunteers getting people in Southall more physically active.
“The group have been giving away literally a thousand free bikes to local people, and it been fantastic to meet and speak to members of the group here today as they use the footbridge for the first time.”
Find out more at the Let’s Go Southall website.