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Council stalls on 'hurry up' cash for Rotherhithe

LONDON BOROUGH of Tower Hamlets has delayed its decision on whether to accept a cash offer to speed work on the Rotherhithe Tunnel in east London.

A 10 week closure for vital replacement of ventilation equipment began on Monday, coinciding with lane closures on the southern approach to the nearest alternative Thames crossing, the Blackwall Tunnel. As predicted, rush hour traffic chaos in the City followed.

The offer of an undisclosed contribution to the 1.5M scheme was made last week by Canary Wharf Limited and five of its tenants (NCE last week). Banks Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse First Boston, plus the Financial Services Authority, Reader's Digest Association and Ogilvy & Mather, want Tower Hamlets to cut four weeks off work in the 90 year old tunnel.

But engineers at Tower Hamlets are concerned that a move to 24 hour working could anger local residents, and claimed that more time was needed to consider the feasibility of shortening the programme.

'Money is not the only issue. If we work 24 hours there willbe more noise and pollution, so we are assessing the additional risks involved,' said project manager Martin Coomaarasuamy. A decision is expected early next week.

(See Commentary page 10)

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