Our constant battle to improve Wapping roads

[UPDATE! 24 April – We welcome the new government funding for pothole repairs that has been announced today and urge whoever controls Tower Hamlets on 23 May to bid for support. The £168 million Pothole Fund, announced in the 2014 Budget, has today opened for bids from councils, with applications closing next month.

The funding is enough to repair more than three million potholes across Britain, and comes on top of £10 billion already being given to councils in England for local roads maintenance between 2010 and 2021.

Local authorities who get funding will have to sign a pothole pledge setting out clearly how many potholes they will fix by March 2015 so that local communities can have confidence that action will be taken. Please, let’s get some cash for Wapping’s neglected roads!]

Original story

It’s a regular complaint. Wapping’s streets are potholed, neglected, noisy, inadequately maintained and used as a rat run for people avoiding traffic on the Highway. We share residents’ frustrations, which is why we badger Tower Hamlets on a regular basis. Cllr Dr Emma Jones had some success in getting investment on Wapping Wall to restore our cobbles, securing an extra chunk of funding for permanent works. But we know that Wapping needs and deserves much more attention from the powers that be.

Here are some of the recent answers we have had from Tower Hamlets to questions we have put to the street team:

Street/pavement repairs required near Waitrose, outside the pharmacy/post office and John Orwell , Torrington Place, Reardon Street, Pennington Street, outside shops on Wapping Lane, Garnet Street, Dellow Street and outside Wapping station:

Streetcare officers have inspected these streets, which they do regularly as part of their day to day duties.  Where defects are found which meet the criteria for repair they will issue an instruction to the contractor to effect repairs in a timeframe according to the severity of the defect, providing that funding is available to meet these costs.

Wapping High Street (is this area in need of recobbling?)

The granite setts along Wapping High Street and Wapping Wall require maintenance to be carried out by hand to maintain the quality of the historic road surface, which is both time consuming and more costly per square metre than using other materials.  The most urgent areas in need of repair along this link ( and on into St Katharine’s Way) have been repaired over the last 12 months and work will be ongoing until the end of March.  Although this has greatly improved matters there are still areas in need of repair and it is hoped to secure further funding in 2014/15 to allow this programme to continue.

Is it possible for the speed bumps on Vaughan Way to be remarked?

Yes – this is clearly justified and these can be included in a programme of work currently being implemented.

Is it possible to get “no cycling” signs on Spirit Quay, as residents are concerned there will be a collision? 

Parts of Spirit Quay have been designated as cycling routes as part of an Olympic related project and since they are included in regional cycling maps it is not feasible to withdraw that facility.  However, those areas of Spirit Quay which are not part of that route could have such signs erected and I will liaise with my colleagues in Parks to arrange this.

Has the speed limit on Wapping High Street been assessed?

The whole of the Wapping area is in fact within a 20 mph zone but issues / complaints particularly about the noise and vibration caused by traffic calming humps, bumps and cushions have led to some of these features being removed or not implemented.  This has resulted in the speed limit not being effectively self-enforcing but granite setts are seen as a helpful calming feature in preference to vertical deflection measures.  (See response to your next point for further information on this matter)

What use does the borough make of average speed cameras in residential areas?

No 20 mph average speeds cameras are currently deployed anywhere in the Borough as their operation is still relatively new for local roads and their introduction is being trialled by a few boroughs as a pilot.  Our proposed work programme for 2014/15 includes a feasibility study for a 20 mph speed limit throughout the borough and the introduction of these cameras will be considered in that assessment.

Are utility companies required to recobble roads after they have finished their works?

Yes – utility companies are required to permanently reinstate their works in the material which is appropriate to the area provided that they have been given adequate advance information of these requirements.  What has tended to happen is that it was quicker to effect a temporary repair in asphalt and the permanent repair then got forgotten about but through the operation of the Streetworks Permitting system we are tightening up on such activities and expect to see benefits in the quality of streetworks reinstatements as a result.

Margaret Cooper

Head of Transport & Highways

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