London mayor Boris Johnson has approved redevelopment plans for the Earls Court area which will see the demolition of the famous west London exhibition centre, two local housing estates as well as London Underground’s Lillie Bridge depot.
The plans, which have been strongly criticised by some London Assembly members, pre-empt Transport for London’s (TfL) feasibility study into relocating the depot, which has been in existence for almost as long as the underground itself. It houses London Underground’s track maintenance departments, with more than 400 workers including plant services, carpentry, mobile track repairs and bespoke trackwork construction, as well as the ultrasonics department who carry out safety checks on the track. The depot is a centre of excellence in track maintenance and is vital to keeping London’s trains running.
Unite has dozens of members working for London Underground and Tubelines (a TfL-owned company) but has not been consulted by London Underground or Transport for London about what will happen should the site be demolished.
“The proposed demolition of the Earls Court, Lillie Bridge depot and the residential estates in the area is an attack on working people and an attempt to gentrify the area by stealth,” says Unite regional industrial officer Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, “the proposed development has no concerns for local people or local businesses and the building work to destroy Earls Courts threatens the welfare and health & safety of the residents, workers of Lillie Bridge and, ultimately, passengers of London Underground."
Unite will write to London Underground demanding urgent talks about this latest development. Unite the union fully supports the Save Earls Court campaign and will put all its efforts and resources to reverse the decision of the mayor of London and stand up for the community in Earls Court.