Friday, March 23, 2007

Woolwich Crossrail overspend to be paid for by local business tax

Readers may have noticed the news that Woolwich is going to get its Crossrail Station. We were first alerted to this news on Wednesday but wanted to take a moment to digest it fully. We're afraid to say that unlike the fanfare from the Council and the local MP we are less than impressed.

When we first started posting about Crossrail we noted the feasibility study carried out by the operator that put forward the argument that there was a half billion pound (£504m) shortfall in building the station. When the Government initially rejected the station it said that this was due to it costing £270m. Yesterday, this figure was almost halved again to £160m and Woolwich suddenly gets a Crossrail station.

How have they managed a reader might wonder. How has the cost of a station dropped so much, and so rapidly, against the rate of inflation? Well it hasn't. The deal has been simply to change the budget and hope for the best. We guarantee when, and if, the station is ever delivered it will cost at least the original budget rather than the deliberately reduced one, and it will be local businesses in Woolwich that will be paying for it through a new business tax which is on its way.

Why would a small business want to operate in Woolwich when it's going to have to pay extra taxes to cover the overspend that the Council have so cynically tried to mask with budget manipulation?

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The budgets you report do not compare like with like. The £504m version was a total cost to the project which has since been reduced by redesigning the line, making it more shallow, and hence cheaper to build a station. The land developer, Berkeley Homes, will now be paying the bill to build the main structure of the station, not the local businesses. The only bill left is to fit out the station with equipment (escalators, ticket barriers etc.). For comparison the fit out costs at the new Thameslink Station at St Pancras are £50m, so the figure of £160m does not seem so unreasonable, unless you know something I don't.

10:22 am  
Blogger greenwich.watch said...

We'll bet you £20 it costs at least three times the claimed budget to build. The budget changes are a con.

The Lyons Review, which the Government and Livingstone have "welcomed" (code for "will implement"), makes it quite clear. Local business "levy" to subsidise the cost of building Crossrail.

10:37 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So much guess work on this site it's painful.

The most important bit of Transport infrastructure for Woolwich, and we get snipes about it.

It might a few quid, but it's worth it, it'll pull Woolwich out of the hole it's in, and if a few quid from traders is needed, who will gain massively, is nothing. The Lyons report also talks about Levy's on Council tax as well.

The gain of Crossrail outweighs your petty whines.

6:18 pm  
Blogger greenwich.watch said...

What sort of idiot would start by saying this site is "so much guess work" that "it's painful", and then proceed to argue in favour of said guess work and dismiss it as "petty whines"?

To dismiss the accuracy of what we've written and simultaneously argue against as if it is accurate takes an certain kind of intellectual fallaciousness usally reserved for politicians. Councillor Roberts, is that you?

6:32 pm  
Blogger Sash said...

Hmmm, it seems a small price for the people of the borough to pay for Crossrail, business gains, the people of Woolwich and the north of the Borough gain.

The Costs for crossrail dropped because of design changes, not massive hidings in the budget, building a station a lot closer to the ground will save massive amounts. Credit needs to go to the council, the developers and the MP deserve the credit for getting this back on the map.

I agree with the previous comment, it is a 'petty whine', but would you prefer the council not to have done this? Cause if they hadn't you would have attack messers Roberts and Raynsford for being useless, you can't have it both ways.

9:01 pm  
Blogger greenwich.watch said...

Sorry but the actual cost hasn't dropped, the estimate has arbitrarily slashed in a political fudge. We've then been told that Berkley Homes have said they'll pay £160m - the official line from the Council is that this will cover the cost.

At the same time we have an official report being presented to Goevrnment into local finance which very clearly states that the cost of Crossrail across London should be locally subsidised through busimess levys, the Government and and the Mayor of London both agree.

Our point is quite simple, the lines being communicated are not consistent between, Greenwich Council, the London Mayor's Office, and Central Government. We are viewing the totality of this "deal". It's not going to cost what the Council claim, and local business will be paying for it.

You ask us is we'd prefer the council not to have done this? Simple answer is yes, what we'd prefer is the Council to be honest about the funding problems. However, this Council doesn't do honesty very well.

Had they not done anything at all we wouldn't really care very much. Our view of Crossrail at Woolwich is that it's been seen by the Council as a totemic panacea that will save the town from it's continual decay. It won't. Its entirely soviet. Spend masses on a symbol, whilst leaving the rest of the place a complete rotting mess.

6:17 am  
Anonymous Sash said...

Sorry but the actual cost hasn't dropped, the estimate has arbitrarily slashed in a political fudge. We've then been told that Berkley Homes have said they'll pay £160m - the official line from the Council is that this will cover the cost.

No, the cost and estimates have dropped because of a redesign of the Station to bring it closer to the surface, that will save money.


At the same time we have an official report being presented to Goevrnment into local finance which very clearly states that the cost of Crossrail across London should be locally subsidised through busimess levys, the Government and and the Mayor of London both agree.

Our point is quite simple, the lines being communicated are not consistent between, Greenwich Council, the London Mayor's Office, and Central Government. We are viewing the totality of this "deal". It's not going to cost what the Council claim, and local business will be paying for it.


Lyons agrues for possible levys, but the levy would be London wide, the benefits of Crossrail would be massive for the capital, the arguement that we shouldn't do anything cause it might cost, is as facile as the the spend to your hearts content attitude is a good one either. The Mayor is delighted cause he not has the power that a lot of US mayors have, which is to get things done via levys on business.

You ask us is we'd prefer the council not to have done this? Simple answer is yes, what we'd prefer is the Council to be honest about the funding problems. However, this Council doesn't do honesty very well.

So a major transport development is going under the borough, and you think they shouldn't do anything? Would you have said the same in the early 90's when the Jubilee Line was being designed? or would you have prefered it staying north of the Thames just so the council did nothing?

Had they not done anything at all we wouldn't really care very much. Our view of Crossrail at Woolwich is that it's been seen by the Council as a totemic panacea that will save the town from it's continual decay. It won't. Its entirely soviet. Spend masses on a symbol, whilst leaving the rest of the place a complete rotting mess.

I don't think the council see Crossrail as the panacea for Woolwich, but it will help, as will the DLR (unless you believe that shouldn't have been built), decent transport infrastructure is vital to any major regeneration project, the changes in Woolwich will take a generation, but the idea that change will happen without massive transport improvement is stupid, Hackney is a prime example of this, despite its location it struggled continuously due to its poor transport links. Woolwich will gain hugely, what you seem to forget is that Woolwich is a major transport hub are already for local bus services, and with crossrail these will improve even more, creating better links to the south of the borough.

The re-development of Love Lane, and improvements to the housing stock in the area will also make a significant difference, but Woolwich need to become an attractive place to live, and transport infrastructure is a major cog in this happening.

I'm no fan of Chris Roberts, but he deserves some credit for making this happen.

12:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part of the funding for Crossrail should come from scrapping the Greenwich Waterfront Transit project. This is now nothing more than a bus lane that will steal capacity on roads through Charlton, Woolwich and Thamesmead.

Crossrail could bring real benefits. The Greenwich Waterfront Transit is a waste of good road space, and would work just as well using standard buses on existing roads.

6:15 pm  
Blogger Indigo said...

From that Building web site,

Rather than increasing business rates, Lyons recommends introducing a power for local authorities to levy a supplement on the national business rate within their area ... a 4p supplement in London ... could raise up to £3.3bn ... It said that such revenue could be of vital assistance to infrastructure schemes such as the £10bn Crossrail line.

You have to wonder, then, why the president of the local chamber of commerce features so prominently - fist punching the air - in all the publicity photos. A turkey voting for Christmas on behalf of a whole barnyard of tiny turnover turkeys?

6:43 pm  

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