UK - London - Tfl

You must be logged in to reply

  Search thread   Image gallery
« 1 2 of 9 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 »
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

 Boris Johnson is one of a kind: a Conservative who has turned upper-class English eccentricity into a political asset in a country where being posh is an electoral liability.

Instantly recognisable thanks to his messy mop of platinum blond hair, the mayor of London has perfected a personal brand based on a comic talent and a likeable, shambolic style that conceal a hard core of self-belief and ambition.

The power of his brand is such that his name has entered the national vocabulary. The self-service bicycles for hire that he launched in London are now firmly established as "Boris bikes", while his support for building a new airport in the Thames estuary led to the idea immediately being dubbed "Boris Island".

As he campaigned for re-election in affluent Putney in west London, working-class Tower Hamlets in the east or suburban Harrow in the northwest, his celebrity pulling power was obvious as voters crowded around to have their picture taken with him.

Many people like him, although his image as the archetypal "toff", or man of privilege, doesn't charm everyone. One passing motorist shouted an expletive at him through his car window, to which the mayor said "thank you" with a regal wave.

In 2008 he was elected mayor with the biggest personal mandate in British history. If he wins a second term on May 3, the London Olympics this summer will provide a global stage for this natural showman, whose humour has helped him to shrug off blunders and scandals that would have ended many careers.

With his comic credentials well-established, Johnson, 47, is now seeking to project himself as a serious figure. On the campaign trail, he is toning down the jokey persona.

"The truth is the mayoralty is an incredibly serious job, and people don't feel that you're taking them seriously unless to some extent you take yourself seriously," he said in an interview after a walkabout among voters in Putney.

"It's res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself)," he added in a trademark burst of Latin, an incongruous touch in an interview conducted next to some rubbish bins down a side street as a car waited to take him to the next campaign stop.

"ELVIS ON MARS"

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, to give his full name, was a contemporary of Prime Minister David Cameron at Eton, one of Britain's most exclusive private schools, and at Oxford, where they both joined the Bullingdon Club, notorious for its members donning tail coats, getting drunk and trashing restaurants. Johnson and Cameron are very distantly related via remote royal ancestor King George II.

The connection, and supposed rivalry, between the two has been the focus of years of scrutiny in political circles, where there is perennial speculation that Johnson would like to succeed Cameron in Number 10 Downing Street.

"I don't think he has a clear plan to reach Downing Street but I think it's a little bit more than a dream in his case," said Matthew Parris, a prominent columnist who worked for The Spectator magazine during Johnson's years as editor.

"He thinks it's an outside possibility and he keeps an eye on his chances," said Parris, who like Johnson is a former Conservative member of parliament.

Cameron's attempts to broaden his appeal by playing down his privileged background usually backfire, but Johnson embraces his image as a toff and makes it funny. The irony is that Johnson is not part of the traditional establishment embodied by Cameron.

Johnson's complex family tree spreads to Turkey, England, France, Switzerland and Germany, with Muslim, Christian and Jewish branches and an unusual cast of ancestors ranging from a minister in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire to a German prince and a leading English suffragette, Millicent Fawcett.

The current crop of Johnsons also treads the path of fame. Boris's sister Rachel, a high-profile journalist, is now editor of the magazine The Lady, while his brother Jo, who used to edit the influential Lex column in the Financial Times, is a Conservative member of parliament.

According to an unauthorised biography by Sonia Purnell, sibling rivalry played a big part in Boris Johnson's rise to fame as a journalist, politician and celebrity star of the BBC's hugely popular satirical quiz show Have I Got News For You. But will it propel him even higher?

Johnson once said he was as likely to become prime minister as to find Elvis on Mars, but with the mayoral election looming, he will not be drawn on the subject. Like any politician in a campaign, he says he is fully focused on the job at hand.

BEWARE THE "BUMBLING BUFFOON"

For a man of legendary eloquence, he is surprisingly vague when asked what makes him passionate about being mayor. He gives a rambling response lasting several minutes and the first policy he mentions is his plan to introduce driverless trains in the London Underground - hardly a rousing battle cry.

Asked what special skills he brings to the job, he says: "I'm a bit of a quiet bully. Yeah. I mean no, in a good way. I'm a very good-natured sort of bully. I think that enables me to get things done."

The response exemplifies one of Johnson's pet tactics, which is to hide his drive and intelligence under a veneer of vagueness, leading many people to underestimate him.

"He comes across as a bumbling buffoon but it's a studied act. Underneath he knows exactly what he's up to and where he's going," said Steve Bell, an influential political cartoonist at the left-leaning Guardian, who has observed Johnson for years.

Bell said Johnson has a habit of deliberately ruffling his hair to create his signature dishevelled look.

Johnson's affability conceals a temper, which came out on April 3 when he shouted at his main rival in the race for mayor, Labour's Ken Livingstone, calling him a liar in a nose-to-nose expletive-laden tirade.

Livingstone, who is under fire over tax avoidance, had said on live radio that Johnson was in the same situation with his own tax. As soon as they were off air, Johnson let rip.

The episode is unlikely to damage a man whose strong personality is his principal selling point.

"He has the enormous luck that some, if not all, of his mistakes are taken as evidence of authenticity," said Tony Travers, politics expert at the London School of Economics.

Johnson's political views, while colourfully expressed, are less distinctive than his personality. Travers labelled him "a mainstream modern Conservative".

In office, Johnson has certainly been more of a pragmatist than an ideologue. He claims successes in cutting spending, reducing crime, investing in infrastructure and scrapping unpopular bendy buses in favour of a safer, greener hop-on hop-off model of bus.

His critics dispute the crime figures and blame him for steep increases in public transport fares which he says are necessary to fund crucial investment. Opponents also say he has lavished taxpayer money on vanity projects such as the Boris bikes, the new bus and a planned cable-car over the Thames.

The mayoralty, which comes with a 15 billion pounds annual budget and responsibility for transport and policing in one of the world's busiest cities, has been a challenge for Johnson, who is not always known for his application or his grasp of detail.

Challenged by the independent UK Statistics Authority over questionable claims, he called the authority's boss a "Labour stooge". The man in question, a non-partisan civil servant, once worked for Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

"OPPORTUNITIES FOR FRESH DISASTERS"

By far the most serious setback of Johnson's four years as mayor was the outbreak of rioting in London in August 2011.

He was on holiday in Canada with his family at the time and initially failed to realise the seriousness of what was happening. It took him several days to return home and when he finally made a public appearance, talking to victims of the riots in Clapham, south London, he was heckled and booed.

This drew unfavourable comparisons with Livingstone's response, when he was mayor, to the July 2005 London bombings. He immediately flew home and adopted a statesmanlike tone.

Johnson limited the damage in Clapham when he grabbed a broom as if to lead the post-riot clean-up. The image of him brandishing the broom soon eclipsed unfavourable coverage.

The episode encapsulated a style of crisis management that helped Johnson get away with a string of extra-marital affairs in the past that earned him the tabloid title "Bonking Boris".

"My friends, as I have discovered myself, there are no disasters, only opportunities. And indeed, opportunities for fresh disasters," he wrote in a newspaper column in 2004 after lying about one affair cost him a senior Conservative Party job.

That particular debacle came days after Johnson was forced to travel to Liverpool to apologise for publishing an article that made light of the city's grief over the death of a hostage in Iraq, causing deep offence. He has since joked about it, referring to Manchester during a party conference there as "one of the great British cities I have yet to insult".

Such self-deprecating comedy goes down well in Britain, and Johnson is wildly popular with grassroots Conservatives. But Tim Montgomerie, editor of influential website ConservativeHome, says it is far too early for Johnson to lead the party.

"It would be unlikely he would go from being mayor to being prime minister. He would go from being mayor to member of parliament to cabinet minister to prime minister, so there would be a process through which people would evaluate him," he said.

If Johnson wins a second term on May 3, he may miss out on a chance to run for a seat in parliament at the next general election in 2015, so Montgomerie's suggested career plan would not kick off until a long time in the future.

Parris says there is an outside chance Johnson could get to Downing Street one day. The question is what he would do there.

"I don't know what changes he would like to make to Britain, what sort of a country he would like Britain to be, and unless he knows that and he could explain it to people you might get the impression of a very capable performer without any strong political ideas."

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Transport for London says it will continue to keep the city’s transport services running during the 32nd London, which will takes place on Sunday 22 April. But it is advising runners and spectators to plan their journeys ahead of the event, as some stations and roads will be closed.

Tfl advises people to ring the 24 hour London Travel Information line on 0843 222 1234 or visit http://www.tfl.gov.uk/marathon. The website will provide details on how transport services will run during the marathon.

There will be free travel on the Tube, Bus, London Overground, Tram and DLR for runners, race officials and on-duty St John Ambulance volunteers from early morning until 5pm.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Businesses in London are set for a two-day taster of the Olympics next month when they take part in the biggest cross-sector test of telecommunications and transport plans before the real event.

On May 8 and 9 companies across the capital will operate as if the games were under way, testing how easily staff can work flexibly and assessing their IT capabilities.

“This is us saying, consider that you’re now in the Olympics. What are you going to do to allow your staff to vary their [work] patterns ... to ease congestion on the network and disruption to yourself,” said Drew Gibson, the business continuity manager at Canary Wharf Group, which is organising the exercise with Deloitte.

Some 35 large organisations in Canary Wharf and the City have already signed up to the stress test. The Financial Services Authority and Transport for London are inviting others to take part.

London’s transport network is expected to be severely strained when millions of visitors arrive this summer. Estimates of the influx have varied widely, but there are 10m tickets for what organisers have dubbed “the greatest show on earth”.

TfL has urged businesses to reroute and retime staff journeys during the games to reduce the demand on the network by an average of 30 per cent.

Mr Gibson said the test was about “getting organisations not to think of themselves in isolation”.

The exercise will also remind companies which have yet to plan for the games that time is running out. Mark Naysmith, who is leading preparations for the games at Deloitte, said: “When we ask businesses to test their games time plans, I suspect some will say we don’t know what they are yet.”

TfL recently launched a campaign to encourage Londoners to plan their games time journeys early. However, a recent survey showed that seven out of eight people still had not decided how they would change their use of public transport during the Olympics.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

wice elected Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone has a long and often controversial background in politics.

Well known beyond the reaches of London, Livingstone has a reputation as an outspoken, independent and often combative figure.

Although London's first elected mayor, Livingstone had already served as London's most senior politician, leading the former Greater London Council until it was abolished in 1986.


Ken Livingstone

Age: 66

Marital status: married his long term partner in 2009. Two children with current partner and three other children.

Political party: Labour

Time served as Mayor: Two terms from 2000-2008

Previous jobs: MP for Brent East 1987-2001; leader GLC 1981-1986; London councillor; lab technician; journalist and broadcaster

A fierce opponent of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s and a frequent rebel within his own party, Livingstone was said by opponents to be one of the "loony left".

His flagship mayoral policy was the introduction of the controversial congestion charge in central London, later extended to west London. He unsuccessfully fought the Labour government as it introduced a public-private partnership plan for the London underground.

Never far from controversy, he was suspended from office for four weeks in 2006 for comparing a Jewish journalist with a concentration camp guard.

But he was less divisive when involved with London's successful bid for the Olympic games and in dealing with the aftermath of the terrorist attack of 2005. Even his opponent Boris Johnson praised him for speaking up for London after 7/7 and the failed attack several weeks later.

Livingstone boasts achievements such as the introduction of the 'oyster' card for London transport, free use of public transport for under-18s in full time education and a revival and increased usage of London buses. He also claims to have increased numbers of police on London's streets to a record level.

Rebel

Livingstone always had a difficult relationship with his own party. Frequently critical of Neil Kinnock, his battle with the party leadership did not diminish under Tony Blair.

In the run-up to the election of 2000 he failed to secure the Labour mayoral candidacy, losing out to the leadership favourite, Frank Dobson.

Livingstone declared that he would stand as an independent candidate, and so Labour expelled him from the party.

Standing as an independent0 far from scuppered him, and he won with 58% of the vote.

Ken Livingstone was expelled by the Labour party but later returned to the fold

In 2000 Tony Blair had been critical of his prospects in office claiming he would be a "disaster". However Blair had to eat his words when Livingstone was admitted back into the party ahead of the 2004 mayoral election.

"I think I should be big enough to say the prediction I made has not turned out right," Blair said at the time.

Livingstone has always divided opinion. Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock alleges that it was the former GLC boss who invented the 'loony left' and who brought about the council's abolition by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Livingstone could be a hate figure for many who were shocked by his call for dialogue with the IRA and championing of gay and ethnic minority rights.

The Sun newspaper once described him as "the most odious man in Britain".

As mayor he faced attack for his links with the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, signing an oil deal with him in 2007 and when he lost the mayoral election in 2008 taking up a position as a consultant to Chavez, advising on urban planning.

In recent weeks he's come under attack for his tax affairs. Livingstone has said the allegations that he avoided tax are "smears".

Newt fancier

Born in Streatham, South London in 1945, Kenneth Robert Livingstone attended Tulse Hill Comprehensive before taking up a job as a lab technician working on cancer research in the Royal Marsden Hospital.

In 1971 he was elected to Lambeth Borough Council and that was the start of a long career in politics. Over the next 10 years he served as a local councillor and then on Greater London council before becoming the leader of the GLC in 1981.

After the GLC was abolished he crossed the River Thames to Westminster, winning the seat of Brent East in 1987.

At the age of 57 he had his first child with his long term partner and later wife Emma Beal. At the time it was thought to be his first child but in 2008 it emerged that he already had three other children with another two women. Beal and Livingstone went on to have a second child in 2004.

Outside politics Livingstone is best known for his love of newts. Less well known is that Kate Bush wrote a song about him for the Comic Strip Presents TV series.

Despite having no elected position in London, Livingstone operated what amounted to a virtual shadow mayor role after losing in 2008 - all part of his goal of regaining the job he told his successor was the "best job in the world".

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

The Liberal Democrat election manifesto was officially released this week. With the title ‘Serious Solutions For London’, Brian Paddick is clearly keen to give Londoners the benefit of a subject close to his heart: crime and policing. He’s also been notable in the run-up to the elections for his reluctance to get involved with the Ken/Boris shenanigans and while his manifesto does make reference to failures of both former and current mayors, it’s not central to his campaign.

We’ll highlight some of the key areas of the manifesto, but the basic message appears to be that the Lib Dems are in touch with ordinary Londoners and plan to run the capital in consultation with its residents.

Crime
Obviously, Brian’s long service in the Met allows him to bring a great deal of knowledge to the table and readers of his autobiography will know that he’s very keen on working with the community. Like his fellow candidates, he wants to put more police on the streets and increase visibility of officers at high-risk areas but also protect neighbourhood policing by guaranteeing staffing levels in Safer Neighbourhood Teams. Closure of local stations is a no-no too — he’s promised at least three stations per borough and a devolution of resources which will give local residents more say in where police are deployed.

Brian has had a couple of high-profile crime fighting campaigns which you may have seen posters for: You Break It, You Fix It which does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin — criminals on payback sentences will have to repair damage caused by vandals or lose their benefits. He’s also spearheaded a campaign against rape and violence against women in an attempt to improve the deplorable conviction statistics for sex crimes.

‘Paddick Patrols’ are another key area in Brian’s crime fighting agenda (though we do hope he’s not going to go down the Boris route and prefix everything with his name); he recently announced that he wants residents to get stuck in with patrolling their own neighbourhoods. On public transport he wants to get night buses to stop on request near travellers’ homes, which will be a huge relief to anyone forced to go miles out of their way on a night bus and then walk home from the bus stop at the same time as attempting to spot potential muggers while drunk. Also under the crime tag are the usual promises regarding eradication of racism, cutting waste and being more transparent.

Economy
With a sideswipe at the former Labour government, Brian acknowledges that Londoners are worse off financially and invokes the Lib Dem contingent of the coalition as back-up for his plans to put more money in our pockets. We can’t help thinking he might be slightly optimistic there — Nick Clegg’s half of the unholy union between right and centre hasn’t proved to be much cop at getting their way so far. But Brian wants to make it better. So, he promises to create a One Hour Bus Ticket so people can transfer on buses as they can on the Tube and rail while paying only one single fare. A Part-Timers Travelcard and Early Bird fare aim to reduce travelling costs for part-time workers though we think a promise to review fare zones may be a tad ambitious but like Ken, Brian wants to make fares fairer.

As well as the usual stuff about holding down council tax and eliminating waste, extending the London Living Wage, addressing high rents and tackling London’s high youth unemployment, we’re also treated to this nugget of information — “Go eight stops east on the Jubilee Line from Westminster and your life expectancy falls one year for every station” — surely alarming news for anyone in the Canning Town vicinity as well as people commuting in from further east. Interestingly, Brian proposes a voluntary £1 a night luxury hotel bedroom levy on London’s three- to five-star rooms in London to raise £10m for funding youth opportunities. We think it sounds like a nice idea but being voluntary we wonder how much it would actually raise. Getting big businesses to be more involved in the local community is balanced with a desire to increase London’s creative jobs.

Transport
It’s not good news for tube users — Brian is advocating block closures to speed up upgrade works on the underground and we think that some of his other promises might be difficult to achieve. For instance, if it was that easy to stick an extra carriage on the most crowded routes, wouldn’t TfL have already done it? Also on the agenda is extending the tram to Sutton, Streatham and Crystal Palace, extending the Bakerloo line south to Camberwell and beyond (a regularly resurfacing promise) and improving key transport interchanges such as at Ealing Broadway with Crossrail.

His intentions over HS2 are less clear – he says he plans to ‘lobby central government to ensure the
impact on London of the proposed new high speed rail (HS2) is minimised’ but it’s kind of hard to see how much he can limit the impact of a mainline railway track through one’s garden. And he’s keen on Crossrail 2 (Chelsea to Hackney) the route for which is undecided. Many of his other transport promises are intangible: statements like ‘work to secure the funding of’, ‘re-examine the cost-benefit of’ and ‘consider additional river crossings’ which the politically-savvy amongst you will no doubt be revisiting in future campaigns. For anyone following the foreign embassy/congestion charge saga, Brian also plans to pressure foreign embassies and diplomatic missions to pay the £60m they owe in unpaid congestion charges. Though Boris made a slightly bigger headline over this.

For road users there’s the promise to increase the congestion charge in line with rail fare rises, promote walking and cycling, extend 20mph speed limits, increase accessibility the disabled including Dial-a-Ride improvements and brilliantly; ‘stop greedy boroughs using parking fines as a source of revenue rather than sensible traffic management’ not to mention ‘enforce penalties against those few cyclists who ignore red lights, cycle on pavements and use mobile phones’.

Housing
Brian finds fault with both Boris and Ken on this by pointing out that ‘The current mayor scrapped his predecessor’s target that 50% of new homes should be affordable but the previous mayor’s fixed target
was often not met anyway’, while promising a new London Housing Company to match public land with
private investment and new funding from private investment. There’s nothing particularly new or exciting in what’s basically a promise to provide ‘more affordable housing’ but a pledge to challenge banks to lend to those who can afford sounds both difficult to achieve and worryingly like the beginnings of the previous credit crunch. However, working with boroughs to bring London’s 50,000 empty homes (a long-running source of frustration).

Environment
In common with the other candidates, air quality is a key issue in Brian’s manifesto and he wants to designating a new clean air zone in central London to deter polluting vehicles (read: charge more) as well as promoting local hydroelectric schemes on the River Thames but apart from use the purchasing power of Transport for London to commission additional renewable generating capacity so the Underground
can become sustainably powered we don’t see much different from the other candidates’ manifestos.

Recycling is obviously a target though, with promises of targets set for packaging, food waste collections (we thought this was already in place?) a London-wide online swap-shop (Freecycle by any other name) and yay! A plastic bag levy. Trees, protection of playing fields, promoting food growing and expanding the Fresh Carts scheme to bring fresh local produce to London will appeal to the green-fingered.

Culture
Lastly, Brian and the Lib Dems are keen to maintain London’s reputation as a cultural centre, ensuring that price or elitism are not a deterrent. The Olympics and its legacy forms a tiny part of Brian’s manifesto and almost appears as an afterthought with a promise to ensure access to local residents and maybe employ the jobless.

It’s clear where Brian Paddick believes Londoners’ concerns lie – crime, transport and the environment in that order and he’s probably not that far off the mark. It’s also refreshing to see a manifesto which doesn’t anchor itself on criticising opponents’ campaigns.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

How Ken Livingstone fares in the battle of the manifestos

Across transport, policing and housing, Ken's manifesto looks better than Boris's – but don't overlook Jenny Jones

Ken Livingstone during the Evening Standard mayoral debate in London. Photograph: Rebecca Naden/PA

The best London mayoral manifesto was published a fortnight ago. A rich political hybrid of orange, red and green with a liberal splash of blue, it was written by me but oozed contributions from hundreds of you. How weak are the efforts of the real candidates next to those of our imagined model mayor! How feeble! How frail! But drab reality must be faced. Let's dig into those prospectuses and sift the guff in search of gold.

 

There are three policy areas where London mayors exercise serious, direct power: transport, policing and the linked areas of housing and planning. Transport is where mayoral muscle bulges biggest and in a perfect world I'd blend the best ideas of Ken Livingstone (Labour), Brian Paddick (Liberal Democrat) and Jenny Jones (Green) into a colourful bouquet and bash Boris Johnson (very, very, Conservative) kindly but firmly over the head with it.

 

Livingstone's headline pledge is to cut public transport fares by 7% in October or resign, freeze them throughout 2013 and raise them no more than inflation thereafter. It's a much bolder promise than Paddick's – arguably too bold – yet the Lib Dem is ambitious too. He wants to pin hikes to inflation over a four-year term and offers reductions in the form of "early-bird" concessions and a one-hour bus pass. Jones is by far the most radical, proposing a large expansion of road pricing to generate funds to keep fare rises below inflation, and ensure that public transport travel is always cheaper than going by car.

 

A feature of Livingstone's transport proposals is that they're not hostile to car use, as his enemies would have you believe. The London Cycling Campaign ranks him second best on pedal-power behind Jones, but criticises him for not overtly putting cyclists and pedestrians first. Johnson – the "cycling mayor" – is placed joint last.

 

For me, the Conservative is last on transport overall, partly because the principle of lower fares is the right one for London's future and he supports inflation-plus annual rises, and partly because he's disingenuous on modernising the Underground. His pledge to have 48% of the system automated neglects to mention that 30% of it is already, and that the decision about the other 18% was taken ages ago. He claims that a "driverless" future will undermine union power, but doesn't mention that the "train captains" who will staff the next generation of trains will be in unions too. The belief that "driverless" trains will put Bob Crow to flight is the largest unexploded myth of the campaign so far.

 

On crime, Paddick combines the authority of a former senior Met officer with the best liberal traditions of his party. He wants to localise policing, vastly reduce stop-and-search, and make cops more accountable to communities. There's a sort of common ground with both Johnson and Jones here – the Tory wants a "safer neighbourhood board" in every borough to give local people more say in police priorities, the Green wants community organisations to look at ways to improve relations between public and police and takes a very similar line on stop and search.

 

Livingstone majors on "police numbers," continuing an interminable arithmetical tiff with Johnson, whose main soundbite is, admittedly, as dodgy as his one on council tax. As in 2008, there's little core difference between the two front-running candidates on crime. The exception is over serious youth violence, where Livingstone advocates the type of street level, multi-agency approach to territorial "postcode" feuds that has got results elsewhere. Jones does much the same. Johnson's, by contrast, omits the Met statistics that tell London's bad news story about youth crime, while the good news one long predates his mayoralty. Draw your own conclusions.

 

At the last election I rated Livingstone and Johnson broadly equal on housing and planning policy. This time I have Livingstone way ahead of his Tory rival, both for what he would like to do and what he would put a stop to.

 

The capital is gripped by a crisis of housing shortage and affordability and with government funding for subsidised homes slashed, mayoral scope is limited. But Livingstone offers practical measures for improving the private rented sector including holding down rents, and a firm commitment to preventing social housing levels being reduced by Tory boroughs.

 

Johnson's new London Plan, the capital's key planning document, has paved the way for his fellow Tories in government to deepen London's housing and associated social ills. It is a blueprint for a more divided city. A Livingstone mayoralty would resist this – a powerful reason for Londoners to give him one of their two mayoral votes and Johnson neither.

 

All four candidates vow to build homes more efficiently on London's vacant public land, with Jones saying she'd only unite this with public money if the resulting homes were genuinely affordable. Like Paddick and Livingstone, Johnson proposes better mechanisms for acquainting land with investment. It's a good idea, but bear in mind that Johnson has already spent four years not getting round to it.

 

There's much more to read from JohnsonJonesLivingstone andPaddick, (the independent Siobhan Benita will produce her policies on housing, policing and transport very soon). Their offerings reinforce my wish to reward the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green party campaigns at the ballot box on 3 May. Livingstone will get one of my mayoral votes. I've yet to decide if it will be my first or second preference, but the opinion polls and mathematics of the supplementary vote system mean that either would almost certainly be of equal value to him. My other mayoral preference and my vote for a "London-wide"London assembly candidate will be shared between orange and green.

 

I want the Tories beaten. In 2008, although I preferred Livingstone, I didn't share the view that a Johnson victory would be catastrophic. But a repeat in 2012 would mean a London mayor continuing to facilitate national Tory policies in the capital. London and most Londoners need a mayor who will oppose them. The manifesto of Livingstone, the only candidate who can defeat Johnson, shows that he would do precisely that. Ken4London? Yes indeed.

 

• The headline of this article was changed at 11:40am BST on 12 April 2012. It originally read "Ken Livingstone's is the best of the (official) manifestos for London mayor", which went further than the article Dave Hill had written

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

London mayor Boris Johnson, seen by some as a potential future prime minister and known to millions for his eccentric, sometimes buffoonish manner, is pressing his re-election campaign by taking on organised labour in a manner not seen since the 1980s.

London's mayoral contest features seasoned operators vying to govern the world's top financial centre in the closest thing Britain has to the drama of a U.S. presidential election.

The introduction of driverless underground trains against trade union resistance has become a highly symbolic issue for Johnson as he strives to show an assertive side.

The tousle-headed Conservative coats his upper-class manner with a veneer of bumbling that has shielded him from some of the acrimony directed of late at Prime Minister David Cameron over a privileged background that sits uncomfortably in a time of austerity.

"If you have directly elected mayors you go for celebrity not political party skills, and Boris is a celebrity," said George Jones, Professor of Government at the London School of Economics.

"Boris is no fool, he likes to play the joke - it means he can get away with all sorts because he's funny," Jones said.

But not everyone is convinced by the witty persona projected in television quiz shows and jokey asides. Behind the sunny image, some see a 'reactionary Tory' of the old school.

Johnson's chief rival Ken Livingstone, a firebrand leftist during prime minister Margaret Thatcher's crackdown on unions in the 1980s, accuses him of making a mess of one of the world's oldest underground railways.

Fares have risen and delays or line shutdowns for weekly 'upgrades' are the bane of Londoners' lives.

Johnson's proposal to replace drivers on the underground, or "The Tube", with automated trains and lesser paid "train captains" has raised howls from London's powerful rail unions - one of the few syndicates who can still bring the capital to a standstill, even in the year when London hosts the Olympic Games.

"You've got to take the decisions in the next four years, when you're buying the new trains, that we never again have an old fashioned cab with a driver in it that we've got at the moment," Johnson told Reuters at a campaign event last month.

The manning of trains has a particular resonance in the history of British trade union conflict. Unions defended the double manning of locomotives, on safety grounds, years after the 1968 withdrawal of mainline steam trains meant firemen were no longer needed to stoke the coals.

In parts of Europe, the concept of the "stoker in the electric locomotive" became something of a byword for the 'English disease' of industrial conflict in 1970s Britain.

The debate over train manning comes amid trade union concern over public sector cuts and stagnation in the private sector.

"There will be unions taking a more active role in many workplaces because of the downturn, because issues such as pay and redundancy have really come to the fore," a Trades Union Congress spokesman said.

While strike action is much rarer than in the 1970s, last year's public sector strikes caused a dramatic spike in days lost over the 12 months to January 2012. Over 1.4 million days were lost, almost four times more than in 2010.

The November 2011 strike was dubbed "the biggest in a generation". It caused the largest monthly number of days lost to strikes since the July 1989 national dockers strike.

Tube drivers, who earn almost twice the average British wage, are the latest unionised workers in the spotlight over costs.

Johnson says the running costs of the tube versus the Docklands Light Railway, which is driverless and uses train stewards, make clear the case for automation.

"What it will do is it will stop old-fashioned trade union leadership using old-fashioned practices to restrict progress," he said. "There could be some union barons...who could object to this approach. And if in the course of that argument their influence is diminished that would be no bad thing."

THE UNION MAN

Bob Crow, the general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, thinks Johnson's plan an electoral gimmick. Unions could not allow it, on safety grounds.

Crow speaks with a brusque East London accent, a stark contrast to Johnson. He frames business as a class struggle between employees and bosses.

A powerful voice in London, he is determined to protect the rights and benefits of his workers at any cost.

"We'll strike any time. It's irrelevant whether the Olympics are on or not. We're not being blackmailed by saying that because the Olympics is on, then we can't doing anything about it," Crow told Reuters.

"(Johnson) keeps on saying that they've got driverless trains on the Docklands Railway. Well, Docklands Railway is purposely built - it's above ground except for one station - and it's built on the basis that if anything happens, emergency services can get there as soon as possible."

The vulnerability of the tube system was demonstrated when militant Islamists detonated suicide bombs in tunnels in 2005. On a more banal level, commuters are familiar with the unpleasant minutes when trains halt in tunnels between stations.

Crow said he could not see how a train captain could function effectively on tube trains routinely packed at rush hours.

"What would the train captain do? Because the trains are so packed he won't be able to move around the carriages because they will be stacked with people," Crow said.

The enmity between the Johnson and Crow is well-established from Johnson's first term as mayor, where the pair faced off over closing tube ticket offices, generous Olympic bonuses for workers, and rows over rotas, some of which led to strikes.

Crow has been directly featured in Johnson's campaign literature casting him as a union bogeyman. He is suing Johnson for what he alleges is Johnson's attempt to wrongfully link him to rival candidate Livingstone.

"It's unusual to have your name up on a poster in an election campaign linking you to someone you're not supporting," he said.

THATCHERITE ECHOES

After months of running level, the latest data from a March 20 Ipsos MORI poll show Johnson eight points ahead of former Labour mayor Livingstone, who ran the city from 2000 to 2008.

One explanation for Boris's appeal has been that he is seen as being willing to take on the unions in a battle reminiscent of the 1980s when unions were powerful national forces.

"There are not many powerful unions left in Britain. But rail unions, particularly in London, still have significant power and are willing to wield it," said Professor Philip Cowley of the University of Nottingham.

Rail disruption is something that has a particularly galvanizing effect on public opinion. No one wants to be delayed going to work or getting home. In this sense, Johnson might feel himself to be picking a fight with a vulnerable opponent.

Britain has a history of government showdowns with powerful unions, one of the most dramatic being a year long strike by British miners in 1984 when Thatcher took on the powerful National Union of Mineworkers, led by Arthur Scargill, and won.

"In this particular respect (Johnson) is facing what Mrs. Thatcher faced with Scargill," politics expert Jones said.

Johnson himself would not respond directly to whether he considered himself a "Thatcherite" in taking on train drivers' unions. So was being a Thatcherite a bad thing?

"No. Well you know, I'm in favour of progress," he said.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

London's four main mayoral candidates took part in a hustings yesterday in South Bank organised by a coalition of disability groups.

The two-hour question and answer session saw disabled members of the public, as well as representatives from MENCAP, RNIB and Leonard Cheshire Disability, pose questions to the candidates.

The topic of debate moved quickly and often to the subject of transport, questions about the freedom pass, the dial-a-ride scheme and public transport staffing.

Liberal Democrat candidate Brian Paddick made his views on disabled people clear: “Disabled people need to be protected from hate crime.”

He added: “I have been tackling prejudice and discrimination all my life and more needs to be done to create a level playing field.”

Labour candidate and previous mayor Ken Livingstone often steered his answers towards the government’s fare and taxation policy.

“The government’s economic strategy is not working, the government has got it wrong,” he said.

He later added: “We have the highest fares in the world, why? I think this is wrong, lets put money back in people’s pockets.”

The Conservative candidate and current mayor, Boris Johnson, kept calm but often found himself on the back foot.

When being criticised by Mr Livingstone for underspending on the London Underground he said: “The gentleman [Livingstone] wants to wind me up. You can’t go around promising money to anybody.”
He went on to add: “Yes, we do need to make sure our stations are staffed. What you can’t do is take a further billion pounds from them. We have to make economies.”

In a typical display of candidate rivalry, Mr Livingstone and Mr Johnson found themselves debating each other rather than the audience.

Mr Livingstone at one point appealed to the audience with feigned sincerity: “You can’t blame Boris for being busy, he has had a book to write.”

Green Party candidate, Jenny Jones, kept her party manifesto at the forefront of her answers.

Among her priorities were to create 150,000 apprenticeships and to increase staffing on the London underground.

In an attempt to unsettle Mr Johnson, in the final minutes of the hustings Mr Livingstone appealed to the audience: “Do you feel you are better off than you were four years ago?”

To which the majority of the audience swiftly cheered, “Yes!”

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Transport for London will keep London running for the 2012 Virgin London Marathon

10 April 2012

With a spectacular year of sporting and cultural events ahead, this year's Virgin London Marathon is set to be bigger than ever, and Transport for London (TfL) is advising runners and spectators to plan their journeys in advance.

The website will provide details on how transport services will run during London's largest annual running showcase.
 
In a year when London will celebrate The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and host the London 2012 Games, tens of thousands of people are set to take part in this year's Virgin London Marathon which will take place on Sunday 22 April.

It will be the 32nd Marathon, featuring World class athletes, celebrities and thousands of eager runners, raising millions of pounds for charities along the way. The marathon runs along many famous landmarks in the Capital, and by planning in advance, spectators can choose the best places to watch the runners.

While the runners are encouraged by the hundreds of thousands of supporters who are set to line the Capital's streets, TfL will continue to keep the city's transport services running.

The easiest way to travel to and from the race is by Tube, Bus, London Overground, Docklands Light Railway (DLR) or Riverboat, however, some stations and roads will be closed, so plan your journey in advance and check before you travel using the dedicated websitehttp://www.tfl.gov.uk/marathon or by contacting the 24 hour London Travel Information line on 0843 222 1234.

There will be free travel on the Tube, Bus, London Overground, Tram and DLR for all runners, race officials and on-duty St John Ambulance volunteers from early morning until 17:00, just by showing their race number, officials' course pass, or tabard.

Road closures

There will be a staggered road closure of the route and approach roads. South of the Thames between Blackheath and Deptford will close from 06:00. North of the river from Canary Wharf to Parliament Square including, The Highway, Tower Bridge, The Lower Route, Victoria Embankment, Westminster Bridge, Southwark Bridge (both directions) and all approach roads from 08:00.

A staggered road reopening programme will be operating throughout the day starting at approximately 11:00. Roads are expected to be fully reopened by 19:00.

London Buses

Buses travelling down roads affected by the Virgin London Marathon will either be diverted or will not run the full length of their route until later in the day. Routes affected on the day are:

1, 3, 11, 12, 15, 15H, 24, 25, 29, 42, 47, 51, 53, 54, 78, 87, 88, 89, 91, 96, 99, 100, 108, 115, 122, 129, 132, 148, 159, 161, 177, 178, 180, 188, 199, 202, 211, 225, 244, 277, 286, 291, 341, 343, 344, 380, 381, 386, 422, 453, 469, 472, 486, C10, D3, D6, D7, D8, P12, RV1.

London Underground

To help Londoners and visitors travel smoothly around the city on Marathon day, all Tube lines will be serving central London as usual. However, Hammersmith & City line trains (and Circle line trains to Hammersmith) will not be stopping at Paddington station, although Bakerloo and District line trains, and Circle line trains towards High Street Kensington, will serve the station normally.

Due to planned engineering works, on Saturday 21 April and Sunday 22 April 2012, there will be no District line service between Turnham Green and Richmond.

Docklands Light Railway

Trains will be as frequent as every two and a half minutes. Travellers on the DLR will be able to connect with Bank, Tower Hill, Canning Town, Canary Wharf and Stratford Tube stations.

London Overground

London Overground services between Highbury & Islington and New Cross/ Crystal Palace/ West Croydon will run enhanced services every 15 minutes and every five minutes between Dalston and Surrey Quays until 22:00.

London River Services

You can enjoy a relaxing view from the river as you boat between piers near key race points including Greenwich, Masthouse Terrace, Greenland, Canary Wharf, St Katherine's, Tower Hill, Embankment and Westminster.  Timetables for river services are available at London Underground stations, TfL piers or online athttp://www.tfl.gov.uk/river

Barclays Cycle Hire

The following docking stations will be suspended from 00:01 to 20:00 on Sunday 22 April due to their locations being along the race route: 

  • Tower Gardens
  • Lower Thames Street
  • Embankment (Savoy)
  • Whitehall Place
  • Embankment (Horse Guards Avenue)
  • Northumberland Avenue
  • Curlew Street
  • Nesham Street
  • Jubilee Plaza - Canary Wharf
  • Upper Bank Street - Canary Wharf
  • Montgomery Square - Canary Wharf

Although all other docking stations will remain available, due to expected congestion in central London it may be difficult to replenish some stations as necessary. Customers are advised to go to our website to check thecycle availability.

Avoiding the crowds

Greenwich town centre and the Tower of London are best avoided if you want to miss the crowds.

Tower Hill and Westminster Tube stations also get very busy. Greenwich Foot Tunnel will be closed north to south on Marathon Day between 10:30 and 12:30. Alternative arrangements will be in place on the DLR from Island Gardens.

The finish line

Charing Cross, Embankment, Green Park, Westminster and St James's Park stations and Embankment and Westminster Piers are all close to the finish line. People can meet up with runners after the race at designated areas in Horse Guards Road and on Horse Guards Parade.

 


Notes to editors:

 

  • The course of the Virgin London Marathon is 26.2 miles long, virtually the same as running the entire length of the Victoria line (13.25 miles) twice or the entire length of the waterloo and City line (1.47 miles) around 18 times
  • Stations located close to the London Marathon Route include:
  • Cutty Sark DLR (Mile 6+7)
  • Canada Water (Mile 9)
  • London Bridge (Mile 12)
  • Tower Hill/ Tower Gateway (Mile 13)
  • Shadwell DLR (Mile 13+22)
  • Canary Wharf (Between Mile 14+15)
  • Limehouse (Mile 14)
  • Charing Cross (Mile 24)
  • Crossharbour DLR (Mile 18)
  • Monument (Mile 23)
  • Mansion House (Mile 23+24)
  • Temple (Mile 23+24) 
  • Embankment (Mile 25)
  • Green Park/ St James's Park (Finish Line)

Passengers are advised to check before travelling via the following options:

  • The TfL website http://www.tfl.gov.uk using Journey Planner, accessible from your computer or internet-enabled mobile device
  • Information on posters, leaflets and Rainbow boards at Tube Stations
  • The 24 hour London Travel Information line on 0843 222 1234. You pay no more than 5p per minute if calling from a BT landline. There may be a connection charge. Charges from mobiles or other landline providers may vary.
 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Brompton Road Tube ghost station resurrection plans announced

There are around 260 Tube stations on the London network but more than 20 are not in use

''When we first went in with torches, the place was crackling with atmosphere," said entrepreneur Ajit Chambers.

"We are holding this feeling, bottling it and showing the world's tourists just how amazing the history of London is."

Then Prime Minister Winston Churchill watched over the Royal Artillery's anti-aircraft operations during World War II from a secret command centre at Brompton Road Underground station.

Now Mr Chambers has announced abandoned Brompton Road Tube in south-west London is the first station he plans to develop into a tourist attraction.

"Proceedings began this morning to purchase our first abandoned Underground station," Mr Chambers said.

"This site is perfect for what we want to use it for," said the man who owns The Old London Underground Company.

'Ghost stations'

"We would like to have a rooftop restaurant, and use the deep drop shafts for climbing walls," he said.

"The visit down to Brompton Road will be comparable to the London Eye and Madame Tussauds."

Ajit Chambers has been in discussion with TfL to transform the stations

Mr Chambers is working with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which owns many of the stations, to lease the sites, he calls "ghost stations".

He has also been in talks with the Greater London Authority and Transport for London (TfL), which owns the network.

They have both said they are "in principle" in favour of the proposals, provided suitably detailed and properly funded plans are put forward.

Brompton Road Tube opened in 1906 on the Piccadilly Line, positioned between Knightsbridge and South Kensington.

But it was permanently closed 28 years later when nearby Knightsbridge was modernised and given a new entrance, and after diminishing footfall Brompton Road was deemed to be no longer economically viable.

The station was taken over by the MoD and became a central part of the war effort, of which some of the evidence is still in remarkable condition.

Maps of London still hang from the walls of the war room where the anti-aircraft command centre used to be.

It is thought Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler's deputy in the Nazi Party, was brought to the station to be debriefed after being captured in Scotland in 1941.

'Safety challenge'

Brompton Road is not the only station Mr Chambers has his sights set on.

At least 21 stations remain abandoned on the network, but TfL has warned some might prove a challenge to develop.

Brompton Road Tube station has been closed to the public for more than 70 years.

"The majority of our disused stations are in direct proximity to the operational railway which would present a significant safety challenge," said TfL spokesman David McNeill.

"Most have not been in public use for many years and would require significant investment before they could be used regularly by members of the public.

"We have explained to Mr Chambers that we would consider proposals from him.

"However, given the safety and operational issues involved and the need to protect public money, a proposal would have to be reasonably detailed."

A spokesperson for the Greater London Authority said: "Ajit Chambers met with the mayor and officials from London Underground last September where it was agreed that follow up discussions with London Underground would take place and if a comprehensive commercial proposal was received then it would be considered."

Mr Chambers remains enthusiastic about the potential of certain sites including Down Street, another former Piccadilly line station, which lies between Green Park and Hyde Park Corner, and was closed in 1932.

Also, frequented by the cabinet during the war, it still contains a bed and bath thought to have been used by the then Mr Churchill.

"That's the one people will get really excited about," Mr Chambers said.

"The legacy of these ghost stations is better to experience in person than can ever be described."

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

As the Olympics get closer, all kinds of sponsored and branded merchandised for the London 2012 Olympics are being announced. It was inevitable that Transport for London would catch the merchandising fever, and have announced special edition London 2012 Olympic Oyster Cards to commemorate the Olympic Games.

1.5 million of these special edition Oyster Cards will be sold in zone one Tube stations. 1.5 million doesn’t sound very much like a limited edition run, but if you add up all the tourists coming for the Olympic games and the worldwide fanbase for 2012 Olympics memorabilia, it will probably sell out in days, if not hours.

A TfL spokesman released this statement as part of the announcement of the limited edition Oyster Cards: ”Commemorative Oyster cards have been very popular with the travelling public in the past and we are delighted to be able to offer Londoners and visitors the chance to have a special memento of what will be a summer like no other.”

The Olympics 2012 Oyster Cards follow hot on the heels of the special edition cards to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, as well as the Royal Wedding last year.

The limited edition Olympic Oyster Cards are being released in mid-June, although an exact date has not been set yet. The cards will cost £10 (£5 deposit and £5 minimum top-up) to purchase, like a typical Oyster Card, which will make them probably the best value 2012 Olympics memorabilia that you can get amidst all the overpriced kitsch.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Major contract re-awarded


Published on Sunday 15 April 2012 08:07

 

Brechin and Laurencekirk company, Journeycall, has been re-awarded the multi-million pound contract to provide telesales, support and fulfillment services for Transport for London’s Oyster Card.

 

Following a competitive tender against leading customer contact centre rivals, Journeycall were chosen for this prestigious contract by Transport for London.

The contract is worth around £2.5million, and runs to 2013 with an option to extend.

The highly successful Oyster Card, first launched in 2003, is used by millions of Londoners on bus, underground and rail services.

Journeycall Managing Director, Trisha Pirie, said: “This contract renewal win for Journeycall is a very positive endorsement of the high quality service we have been providing to Transport for London for many years.

“Journeycall continues to be at the forefront of transport and smartcard retailing and support services.

“With public transport in the UK proving increasingly popular, we are committed to ensuring that customers can easily buy and obtain support for Oyster Cards and other travel tickets and have easy access to all modes of transport throughout the UK.”

Journeycall is a multi-channel contact centre company with offices in Laurencekirk and Brechin, specialising in the transport and smartcard industries. Its other clients include London Councils, Stagecoach, Go-Ahead, Chiltern Railways and the Association of Train Operating Companies.

The joint solution provided by Journeycall and its parent company, ESP Systex make them the UK’s leading provider of integrated solutions and bureau services for smartcard schemes.

They have wide expertise in development, delivery and support of smartcard systems, systems integration, and fulfillment for the transport, leisure, education and security market sectors.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Boris Johnson formally launched his re-election campaign for London Mayor on Tuesday morning, taking over a church in the leafy London borough of Richmond to rally the party faithful.

HuffPost recharged its Oyster card and headed out to the suburb, a journey interrupted by a District line train being "reassigned" to Kensington Olympia. Then its replacement train was mysteriously held at a red signal outside Barons Court for ages, so we arrived a bit late.

The unashamedly middle class location for the launch event attracted a largely white and middle class audience. And the religous setting formed the backdrop to some intensive preaching to the choir.

Tory London Assembly member Tony Arbour, introducing Boris, acknowledged that we were in "outer London, in Boris-land," and that the area had the lowest levels of crime in the capital. As such, activists were told to "have no fear going out leafleting for Boris," to much laughter and applause.

Further introductions were provided by local Tory MP Zac Goldsmith, who claimed Boris was "a unifying mayor" who had "transcended party politics," before a standing ovation broke out among assembled Tories as Boris took to the stage.

Immediately the party politics which Boris has allegedly transcended were wheeled out.

Boris - ahead in the polls by between four and six points, according to the latest projections - attacked his main rival Ken Livingstone as a "champagne-swilling Trotskyist bendy-bus aficionado," lambasting the former Labour mayor's record for alleged waste and trips to Cuba.

By contrast, claimed Boris, Londoners should be delighted with the past four years, where his promises had been kept, crime had fallen and the Mayor had caused "plaster to fall off the ceiling of the Treasury," thanks to his bruising encounters with George Osborne and Whitehall mandarins who'd wanted to cut Crossrail.

Boris used the speech to announce two new initiatives; young people would continue to get free travel around the city, but they would have a new clause written into their conditions of carriage compelling them to give up their seats for pregnant women and the elderly.

"Everybody is paying for the privilege of young people travelling free... But it's vital that they show some courtesy," he said to applause, although it seems like gesture politics, with no obvious enforcement if those lucky young people fail to be chivalrous.

The second initiative would see special constables in London getting 50% relief on their council tax. This, at least, was an actual policy, sandwiched in between great swathes of self-congratulation and momentous accomplishments.

Bendy buses no longer sitting "like beached whales, jack-knifed in yellow box junctions," 1,000 extra police officers on the streets (hotly disputed by Labour), eyesore tower blocks vetoed by the Mayor's office.

Yes, the "greatest city in the world" had become some kind of utopia since 2008, and a vote for Ken Livingstone would send the city into reverse. Fares would eventually go up under Ken apparently (despite going down to begin with). Under Boris? "We would be very determined to hold them down."

In the continuing pursuit of a perfect city state, trains in Borisland would one day drive themselves, despite protests from "hard-line union barons who mistakenly choose to resist this idea", nasty profiteering train companies would have to start working with the Mayor, to get Oyster cards in the suburban railways, and there would be no third runway at Heathrow - Boris suggested he would resign if he was overruled by the coalition on this.

"You will get a mayor who'll bring Londoners together, not one who plays one group off against another, because of some cynical calculation," Boris concluded.

But was it a "cynical calculation" to launch his campaign in one of the most Tory districts of London, where the wheels of descending 747s practically scrape the rooftops? Draw your own conclusions.

And it might also be considered somewhat cynical of Boris to take questions from practically everyone in the church who were somehow ethnically diverse - HuffPost counted around a dozen of these non-white faces in a gathering of about 250 people.

But this was a commanding, assured and - we must admit - entertaining hour in the company of Boris Johnson. The rather unanswered question, though, is whether the less green and affluent parts of this city will support him on May the 3rd as much as the good folk of Richmond clearly will.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

The creation of a mayor for London was supposed to stimulate a new type of politician who would offer brave new ideas for the city. Unfortunately, the paucity of thinking on transport in the manifestos from the two main contenders suggests the experiment has failed.

Ken Livingstone went early on his Big Idea, reducing fares by seven per cent and not increasing them in 2013. His manifesto elaborates on this, promising to save average fare-payers £1,000 over the four-year term. There’s a rag-bag of other ideas, with a section on helping motorists and a promise to safeguard the Freedom Pass – also a Tory promise – but very little of substance.

As for Boris Johnson, his key manifesto pledges on transport are equally shallow: cutting Tube delays and extending the bike hire scheme. The first is not really in his power, as it greatly depends on the vagaries of a system whose 150th birthday is celebrated next year. As for bike hire, it’s a great scheme but only a minority of Londoners will use it. There is, too, the usual guff about improving river travel, a promise which I have seen numerous times over two decades but which will always be defeated by the sheer impracticalities of a river with more curves than an Alpine pass.

What both these hackneyed politicians lack is any vision of how radically to improve the environment of central London by using transport as the catalyst. This would involve a courageous decision to recognise that the individual motor car is an inappropriate mode of transport in a city like ours and so its use should be discouraged. Livingstone, to be fair, did seem to understand that in his first term, with his daring move to push through the congestion charge and later to extend it westwards. But his efforts ran out of steam; now, cravenly, he will not even reinstate the western zone and has given up his plan to impose a tax on “gas guzzlers”.

Boris, for his part, wants it all ways. He supports cycling, but refuses to accept that to do so in any coherent way requires both slowing down the traffic and reallocating road space. The result, tragically, has been two deaths on the Cycle Superhighway he created in east London.

Where’s the beef? Cities such as, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Bordeaux, Munich and even Paris have grasped the nettle, creating extensive facilities for cyclists and putting them at the heart of urban planning. They have strived to make their cities liveable as well as accessible. In the process they have sometimes had to make short- term unpopular decisions to bring about a long-term improvement. In London, it seems we have a pair of conservatives who cannot think beyond getting re-elected.

So, for the next four years, we will continue to have an Oxford Street that is a bus depot rather than an elegant pedestrianised boulevard, a Soho whose narrow streets are still clogged with cars, a Parliament Square where the central green cannot be reached safely by pedestrians and a majority of roads that remain a deterrent for many would-be cyclists. Unless the successors to the Boris-and-Ken show are braver , London will miss out on the transport-driven benefits that are now transforming Europe’s cities.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW


Ken Livingstone vows to halt rollout of new Routemaster buses

London mayoral candidate says he will not increase new Routemaster fleet, but will instead invest in electric buses

Ken Livingstone says he will not increase the eight-strong fleet of new Routemaster buses. Photograph: Julian Makey / Rex Features

Ken Livingstone has vowed to block the rollout of Boris Johnson's flagship 21st century Routemaster bus if he ousts London's Conservative mayor in May, in favour of a fleet of electric buses to help reduce pollution.

The Labour mayoral candidate, whose "bendy buses" were scrapped by Johnson when he was elected mayor in 2008, has made clear that has no intention of increasing the fleet of new hybrid hop-on-hop-off buses.

Johnson has billed the buses as a modern day green replacement for the iconic Routemaster, which was taken out of regular service on all but a handful of routes in 2005.

But Livingstone says the new bus model is too expensive.

Johnson spent £11.4m on the combined cost of developing the new prototype and a contract for just eight production models, prompting critics to accuse him of indulging in a vanity project.

Just three buses are on London's streets, with the additional five expected to be in place by the end of May. Johnson has pledged that if re-elected he will put 600 more on the road over four years. But Livingstone said if voters picked him as the next mayor of London, there would be no more coming off the production line, although he had no intention of scrapping those already in place.

"I'm quite happy to have them running around London," Livingstone told the Guardian. "We'll put a thing on the side saying: 'The most expensive bus, thanks to Boris.'"

Transport for London (TfL) says the new Routemaster has the best hybrid technology and each new bus will cost £315,000 – the same as the hybrid buses already on London's roads.

The cost per bus of employing a second crew member – or conductor – will be £62,000 a year.

A spokesman for Johnson said: "Ken Livingstone said that only some ghastly dehumanised moron would want to get rid of the Routemaster, then he scrapped it.

"Now he wants to cancel an order for one of the greenest buses, which costs, and he knows costs, no more than a hybrid bus. Such a decision put hundreds of British jobs at risk and would once again deprive Londoners of the much-loved hop-on, hop-off service. Mr Livingstone simply can't be trusted."

But Livingstone insists the city needs to convert the entire bus fleet to wirelessly charging electric buses within four years as part of measures needed to tackle the "huge scandal" of poor air quality in the capital, which ranks among the worst affected cities in Europe.

He said he wanted to sit down and negotiate with companies ready to manufacture electric buses in "real numbers".

"I'm quite prepared to sign a five-year contract to replace our fleet 20% per annum with an electric bus fleet. A firm that does that will then sell that technology over the rest of the world. There are a lot of other things we need to do as well. You need to get the most polluting vehicles off the road, you've got to stop people idling their cars."

He added: "For a long time the government suppressed the scale of the death rate. We now know at least 4,000 people, and perhaps as many 6,000 people, die prematurely because of poor air quality."

TfL says electric buses do not have sufficient range to drive around the capital for 18 hours a day, but it was looking at the developing technology that is available.

Livingstone said induction charging – essentially the same technology as that used in electric toothbrushes – would allow vehicles to be charged at bus stops without having to plug them in to sockets.

"The electric bus technology is interesting because you can't charge up a double-decker to get across from one side of London to another, so it's like your electric toothbrush technology. Under the bus stop, there's a small charge."

 

The Labour mayoral candidate, who first became involved in elected politics more than four decades ago, has faced criticism over his decision to stand again for the mayoralty after losing in 2008.

Livingstone was selected to fight the 2012 mayoral election by Labour party members against his rival Oona King in 2010 but, by his own admission at the time, few candidates were going to throw their hat into the ring against someone who could boast such a high-profile track record in running London, both at City Hall and as leader of the Greater London Council in the 1980s.

Now aged 66, Livingstone said that if re-elected, he would "try and bring forward another generation of people that will go on to be in city government", conceding that many of the key people who have worked with him have either retired or died.

Declining to name prospective future stars, he said: "It's trying to bring forward a whole lot of young people you don't know about yet, some of whom will be sitting here in 15 years' time."

He insisted that his deputy running mate, Val Shawcross, who has served on the London assembly, would have a "real role" at City Hall, focusing on transport, while he would focus on policing.

Livingstone was dismissive of polls showing him trailing Johnson by six percentage points, insisting that the final result will be decided by the number of people who bother to turn out to vote.

"I don't believe the polls," he said.

Describing his experience of campaigning on the streets, Livingstone said: "The mood is amazing out there. They're so supportive."

He appears to have no regrets about channelling his media earnings through a company, Silveta Ltd, despite prompting repeated allegations of hypocrisy for benefiting from corporation tax, which is lower than income tax, while criticising those engaged in tax avoidance.

He said this was the only option for handling earnings from different sources while, at the same time, paying others such as his wife and two members of staff, in a way that was "above board and legal".

Livingstone said he handed everything over to his accountant because "I am completely and utterly uninterested in managing my finances. It's not what I came in public life to do".

Despite the controversy, he said he wanted top income tax rates to rise "to the most you can squeeze it up without them [the rich] buggering off and leaving you with less revenue" – although he refused to specify what that rate would be.

Livingstone took the opportunity to clarify his reasons for crying at the preview of the party election broadcast despite knowing the supporters who took part were scripted and recruited by an advertising agency.

Livingstone explained that the agency sought out Londoners who were planning to vote for him and were willing to read a script. "That I knew all about, but what I didn't know and came as a surprise was that the ad agency was asking them 'what message would you like to send Ken Livingstone', and that was quite moving."

Livingstone also revealed what happened in thefamous lift incident two weeks ago, when Johnson went nose to nose with him after an on-air exchange about their respective tax arrangements, and called the Labour mayoral candidate "a smeg liar".

Once in the lift after the radio show was over, Livingstone said he joked to Brian Paddick, the Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate and former senior officer who was among the five people present: "Why don't you make a citizen's arrest?"

Livingstone said of Johnson: "You know when people go red in the face … he was completely pale faced. All the blood had drained away. I knew he was absolutely furious so I didn't do anything to provoke him any further."

 

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

LONDON’S PUBLIC TRANSPORT authority has guaranteed it is ready for a huge increase in public transport usage during the Olympic Games.

It is estimated there will be up to an extra three million trips on London’s public transport network per day during the Olympics in July and August.

But with just over 100 days until the opening ceremony, the director of Olympic Games transport at Transport for London, Mark Evers, says they are fully prepared.

“We’ve got a very good idea of what the transport network is going to look like during the Games,” Evers said. ”Having said that, we are going to make sure that we have people out on the network, more operational staff, more volunteers so if we see significant demand in areas that we weren’t predicting, we’ve got the people on the ground to respond to that and we’ll also make sure we’ll get real time information out to travellers on the network so they can modify their behaviour if they have to.”

London is home to more than 20 Olympic venues and the scale of the operation to prepare for the huge influx of people has been enormous. During an average day in London, there are already about 12 million people using the public transport system.

Evers is confident they have the right plans in place to cope with the added pressure, but does admit there will be an impact on those who work in the capital. In total around six and half billion pounds has been spent on upgrading the transport system in the capital.

“For some people that’s going to involve leaving home earlier in the day to get to work, for others it might involve staggering their working day to be a little bit later,” Evers said.  ”Some people it might make more sense to walk or to cycle to work.

“For others it might be a matter of working from home on the busiest days of the Games.”

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

John comments on Wolmar

What you have failed to mention  is the construction of CrossRail. The second biggest rail project in the UK after the construction of the Channel tunnel. Would this have happened if Ken Livingstone had been elected as mayor at the last election. Possibly but possibly not, but Boris Johnson got the commitment to it and has pushed it ahead rapidly before politicians in Westminster could change their minds (yet again).

 
Conversely he cancelled all of Ken Livingstone's plans for new tram lines across London. Very must be a retrograde step.
Whilst I have not heard these be proposed again by Mr Livingstone he has publicly stated that the extension of the Croydon system to Crystal Palace should go ahead.

 

TfL have taken over Croydon Tramlink but apart from obtaining 6 additional trams, what else have they done for the system. Fares have increased considerably. You now need a zones 1- 4 Travelcard to travel the three routes, costing £7.70, with no difference for peak or off-peak travel. There is no other day ticket available. Even this is not clear on the 12 year old clapped out ticket machines. Expansion of the system is much overdue, with a route to Purley being a priority.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

London yawns as Boris and Ken go round and round on buses

Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone are locked in heated battle. Over buses. Is this really what Londoners are interested in?

'Fast-forward four years, and Boris Johnson is once again standing on a platform of introducing a new fleet of Routemaster-style buses.' Photograph: Luke Macgregor/Reuters

It's not just the faces of the leading contenders that are familiar in this London mayoral election, but many of the big policy battles as well.

 

Last time around, in 2008, Boris Johnson stood on a platform of cutting waste and using the money to build a "new fleet of Routemaster buses". His opponent Ken Livingstone bitterly opposed him, saying that the cost of re-introducing conductors would be £100m a year alone. Johnson countered with much lower calculations, and commentators, academics, and transport officials all excitedly joined in the fight.

 

As an increasingly bored electorate looked on, the combatants became locked in a 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRRYDVaXdaA about hybrid engines, conductor shifts and bus tendering arrangements.

 

Fast-forward four years, and Johnson is once again standing on a platform of introducing a new fleet of Routemaster-style buses and Livingstone is once again standing on a platform of opposing him.

 

The battle began earlier this year as Transport for London (TfL) took a working prototype of the bus on a pre-election tour of suburban high streets. As the bus crawled from place to place, another bus filled withcampaigners against Johnson's re-election followed in convoy. Meanwhile Johnson himself took to the wheel, making this possibly the first time that an election candidate has charged the cost of his campaign bus to the taxpayer. Livingstone has now also joined in the battle, telling the Guardian he will scrap any further production of the buses if he is re-elected.

 

For ordinary commuters stuck in overcrowded buses on overcrowded streets, this must seem like the most pointless and self-indulgent of debates. The original bendy buses were certainly disliked by some motorists, but appreciated by many of the people who actually used them. Their replacements meanwhile are expensive, do not solve the problem of fare evasion and require an extra member of staff whose only job appears to be to stop people falling off the back.

 

But despite this the reaction on the streets to them has been broadly positive. Whether it's nostalgia for a London that's gone, or genuine admiration for their design, the new buses are proving popular even among those who initially opposed them.

 

Because the truth is that unlike Livingstone and Johnson, most Londoners do not see bus design as a major political issue any more than they do taxi design or train design. The new fleet, if finally built, will be popular among some people and seen as impractical among others. But when compared with the big issues of congestion, air quality and affordability, the question of bus shapes is of almost no significance to most Londoners.

 

When TfL asked people what the top priority should be for the bus network, the most popular suggestion was to provide "more information at bus stops". "Developing a new bus" barely registered. But then improving bus timetables is never going to be as sexy for a mayoral candidate as the opportunity to climb aboard your own custom-designed bus.

 

Meanwhile the real world carries on, and unlike the country as a whole,unemployment is still increasing in London. Widening inequality, polluted air and violent crime are still all big issues in the capital. Unfortunately none of these are likely to get a look in, while both the major candidates are still obsessing over each other's tax returns and bus designs.

 

In this most personality-based election, where the job itself has few real powers, it is probably inevitable that the debate gets bogged down in trivia. But for the same trivial issue to be a major battleground two elections in a row may finally stretch the patience of Londoners too far.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Nine questions for Sky to ask Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The second live TV debate of the mayoral election campaign takes place tonight on Sky News. It cannot possibly be worse than the first. Newsnight's dazzlingly dreadful interrupting contest two weeks ago generated wasteful heat, little light and another week of journalists ignoring all that boring stuff London mayors are meant to actually do when they're in the job, like alleviating London's chronic housing crisis, improving its transport systems, cleaning up its filthy air and finding the best ways to stop teenagers stabbing each other.

Sky News has been asking for suggestions for questions to put to Boris Johnson, Ken Livingstone and Brian Paddick (Jenny Jones is not involved this time, which is a shame). Given that the media herd has been engaged in a big old game of Get Ken for months on end, I've nine questions Sky might like to put to Boris to even things up a bit. I've picked the figure in honour of the Conservative candidate's very own nine-point plan.

One. Why does your nine-point plan for Greater London include pledges to do things you've previously claimed to have already done? (1,000 more police than when you were elected, "save" Londoners £445 in council tax).

Two. Can you explain the maths behind that pledge to "save" Londoners £445 in council tax? (Clue here).

Three. London is in the grip of a deepening crisis of housing affordability. You claim to have "delivered" record numbers of affordable homes. Could you have achieved this without the large sums of money at your disposal thanks to your predecessor as mayor and the last Labour government, and how do react to the observation at Inside Housing that you are alone among mainstream candidates in offering no new ideas in this area of policy?

Four. You came to power amid high hopes that you could lessen serious youth violence in London, yet Met figures show annual rises, your mentoring programme is running late and the group of experts you recruited to provide you with advice have described your strategy as "a shambles." Why shouldn't Londoners feel let down?

[Update, 12:20. And now it has emerged that criticisms of the performance of the young offenders' rehabilitation scheme at Feltham you support were removed from a report on its progress.]

Five. One of your first acts on becoming mayor was to support a large increase in the use of random stop and search and you've continued to support this. Metropolitan Police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howerecently said that the tactic should be far better targeted and more professionally executed. Have you spent four years getting it wrong on stop and search?

Six. Your transport manifesto (pdf) claims that further automation of the London Underground - by which you actually mean new rolling stock on the Northern Line - "will reduce the bargaining power of the union bosses." But the "train captains" who would staff these new trains would be union members. Most of those already employed on the Docklands Light Railway are members of Bob Crow's RMT and have demonstrated that they are quite prepared to go on strike. So how will the advent of "train captains" on the underground reduce the Tube unions' power?

Seven. Your 2008 accountability manifesto promised to "end the culture of cronyism at City Hall." In August 2008 you appointed one of your mayoral campaign donors to the board of the London Development Agency. In June 2010 your fellow Conservative Jeremy Hunt appointedyour nominee to chair the Arts Council in London despite her having been turned down by Hunt's Labour predecessor on the grounds that the process you devised that led to her nomination had breached Nolan Rules governing standard in public life. That person was Veronica Wadley who, as its editor during the 2008 campaign, led the London Evening Standard's relentless campaign against your rival Ken Livingstone. Have you honoured your pledge on cronyism?

Eight. A report you commissioned suggested that over 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each years as a result of air pollution. Your latest move to avoid a large EU fine has been to glue pollution to the ground in hot spot areas. Is that good enough?

Nine. You claim that you will introduce 600 of your new London buses in the course of your second term and that these will cost no more than existing "hybrid" buses do. However, in December 2008 you promised that over 350 hybrids would be operating on London's streets "by 2011" and that every new addition to the fleet would be a hybrid "by 2012."Three years later it emerged that only 52 out 800 buses on order were hybrids. The reason Transport for London gave for this was that the cost of hybrids had failed to fall to levels hoped for. Why should we believe your promise about your new bus?

There you go, friends at Sky. Hope that helps.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Packed into a subway train that has broken down, or stuck in gridlocked traffic, it is easy to spot one key aspect of London’s 2012 Olympic Games that is causing organizers sleepless nights.

Despite seven years of planning and a colossal budget, transport remains the Achilles heel of preparations that otherwise seemed to be progressing well on Wednesday, the 100-day mark to go before the opening ceremony on July 27.

“Keeping the capital moving smoothly during the Games will be nothing short of a Herculean task,” the London Assembly, which oversees the work of the mayor, said last month. “Given the scale of the challenges, some disruption to the transport network is inevitable.”

London’s trains, underground train system and buses suffer from decades of under-investment and already struggle to cope with the 12 million journeys made each day, with the Tube in particular regularly breaking down or suffering delays.

During the Olympics, the network will have to deal with an extra 3 million daily journeys, as 10,500 athletes, 9,000 officials, 20,000 journalists and millions of spectators descend on the 13 Olympic sites across the capital.

Faced with the hideous prospect of athletes missing events while stuck in traffic or in a tunnel, London’s transport authorities have embarked on a huge ï¿¡6.5 billion (US$10.4 billion) modernization program.

The budget, drawn up after London won the bid in 2005, is the equivalent of two-thirds of the money spent on the rest of the Games — and Transport for London (TFL), which manages the network, is confident it will bear fruit.

TFL director of Games transport Mark Evers said that it had been preparing for the Olympics for the last seven years.

“We’re really confident that the London public transport and the roads network will cope during the Games,” he said.

As part of the often disruptive works program, road junctions have been reorganized, Stratford station next to the Olympic site in east London has been extensively renovated, and existing train lines have been extended.

Extra buses, trains and Tubes will be laid on during the Games, while the high-speed Javelin shuttle service will whisk passengers off Eurostar trains coming from France and Belgium, directly to the Olympic site.

Lawmakers have also expressed concern that London’s Heathrow airport, already the busiest in the world in international passenger terms, will be unable to cope when 17,000 athletes and officials depart on Aug. 13.

However, the issue is not just capacity — negotiations are currently under way with the transport workers’ unions, who are demanding extra pay during the Games, to prevent the nightmare scenario of a strike.

TFL has sought to reduce the number of non-Olympic -passengers who use the network by urging Londoners and commuters to travel by foot or by bicycle where possible during the 17 days of events.

It has also called on companies to offer employees the option of working at home or at least working flexible hours to ease rush-hour congestion.

To be on the safe side, tens of thousands of VIPs will be given access to 48km of special Olympic road lanes to help ease their journey through the capital, with 4,000 cars and 1,500 coaches hired to take them to the Olympic venues.

The plan has sparked strong criticism, particularly from taxi drivers, who will not be allowed in the fast lanes, even if London’s authorities insist that 70 percent of the road network will not be affected by the Olympics.

John Thomas, chairman of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, questioned why the VIPs had not been given hotels closer to the Olympic sites to avoid the need for such measures.

“London will be totally and completely gridlocked,” Thomas said.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has dismissed such fears as “complete and utter nonsense,” but traffic monitoring company Inrix forecasts a 33 percent increase in jams during the end of July and the beginning of August.

Tony Travers, a transport expert at the London School of Economics, said it was very difficult to predict how the transport network would cope.

“We’ll only find out when it happens,” he said.

 

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

First TfL panel shake-up since 2007 to offer broader London remit

Transport for London (TfL) has launched its first panel review in five years, with the new roster to include work for the Greater London Authority (GLA), which now sits within TfL’s remit.

The review, which is expected to conclude later this year, marks TfL’s first panel exercise since 2007, when the public transport company appointed a 12-strong line-up covering major projects and mainstream work.

Those interested in pitching were asked to contact TfL’s procurement management by 8 March, with firms successful in the initial screening invited to tender this month.

TfL’s general counsel Howard Cater and legal director Andrea Clarke are leading the review, which will see firms appointed to advise across five key areas: major projects and commercial contracts; commercial and contractual disputes; commercial developments, property and regeneration; employment; and routine property and highway matters.

TfL has yet to make a decision on the size of the panel or length of terms; however, the last review saw Ashurst, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Bird & Bird, Clifford Chance, Eversheds, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith, K&L Gates, Manches, Simmons & Simmons, Travers Smith and Wragge & Co appointed.

In addition to major projects panel work, Eversheds was appointed in 2007 to handle TfL’s mainstream operational work, with this role now facing scrutiny in the current review. Panel firms will also advise on work previously conducted by legacy body the London Development Agency following its takeover by the GLA in March this year.

Following a restructuring that has seen the formation of a combined legal team covering both the GLA and TfL, the legal team now has around 65 lawyers covering commercial law, dispute resolution, property & planning, employment law and public and regulatory law.

The 2007 review, which was led by TfL’s then director of legal affairs Gareth John, required a range of diversity statistics from applicant firms.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

etters

Mayoral matters of power and policy

The controversy over the affordability of the policy to cut fares seems entirely misplaced. In the last financial year the total surplus over budget at Transport for London was more than £1.3bn. In the current financial year TfL estimates the surplus will be £830m before exceptional items of expenditure. These unbudgeted surpluses are over 41% of actual fare revenues last year and over 23% of next year's estimated annual fare revenues. The promised cut in fares is 7%.

Clearly the policy of cutting fares is affordable. Indeed, after the cut there are still hundreds of millions of pounds available for potential investment or other items of spending. Londoners will make their own judgment on 3 May, but they should do so in the certain knowledge that Ken Livingstone's policy of cutting the fares by 7% is easily affordable.
Prof Victoria Chick University College London
Prof Hulya Dagdeviren University of Hertfordshire
Dr Chris Edwards Senior fellow, University of East Anglia
Prof Susan Himmelweit Open University
Prof George Irvin SOAS
Prof Margot Light LSE
Prof Simon Mohun University of London
Robin Murray Senior visiting fellow, LSE
Prof Engelbert Stockhammer Kingston University
Prof Jan Toporouski SOAS
Prof John Weeks SOAS

• Although Simon Jenkins talks up the prospects for more elected mayors (Elected mayors will destroy our shadowy civic mafias, 18 April), there is no prospect of a Brummie Boris – or a Mancunian Ken. The mayor of London's power comes from the fact that they are responsible for all Greater London (32 boroughs, population 7.8 million). What is on offer in Manchester (and elsewhere) is simply a choice of electing a mayor for a single local authority (the City of Manchester, population 0.4 million), and not of the whole of the city region of Greater Manchester (10 boroughs, 2.6 million). Many others in the metropolitan commentariat seem unaware of the difference between Manchester and Greater Manchester.

Last month Michael Heseltine was reported as wanting to see elected mayors having oversight of policies at regional rather than just city level. Somehow, I doubt Bury or Bolton citizens would like their transport policy decided by a mayor elected solely by the voters of the City of Manchester; and rightly so. So let's get the facts straight: Greater Manchester voters aren't being given the option of an elected mayor with anything like the power, profile or influence of the mayor of London. And more's the pity.
Niall Cooper
Coordinator, Church Action on Poverty

 

• So Simon Jenkins thinks thousands of elected councillors in hundreds of councils are akin to large-scale organised crime. In fact, these "entrenched politicians" are subject to regular re-election and, far from being "shadowy", are available to their constituents at any time – at least here in Gateshead. The position of elected mayor is simply a "magnet" for power-hungry individuals and indeed such institutions are a form of elective dictatorship which, over time, can easily result in the kind of family dynastic rule evident under more than one Mayor Daley in Chicago.
Dave Walkden
Gateshead, County Durham

 

• Simon Hoggart (Sketch, 18 April) worries that "even people who don't like either Boris or Ken suspect they will need to choose one for their vote to count". But as the election will be using the supplementary vote system – a mild form of PR that only Londoners are able to comprehend, apparently – there's absolutely no reason not to vote for the independent or other minority candidate, and as long as you put Ken or Boris as "second preference" the vote will not be wasted.
Chris Parkins 
Stanmore, Middlesex

 

• Simon Jenkins can be very frustrating, especially when he fails to comprehend that the opposition to having elected mayors has nothing to do with not knowing who our councillors are. Nottingham and other cities taking part sit at the centre of large conurbations. Commonsense says we need to revisit the idea of either creating single councils for these areas or "metropolitan" counties (first tried in 1974 and abolished by Thatcher) so that separate councils can share strategic powers and yes, if they want, an elected mayor.

We also need to address the role of councillors in post-mayoral councils, yet we hear not a word. There's an ongoing consultation into "the role of councillors as leaders of communities and neighbourhoods" by the parliamentary communities and local government committee, which has gone unreported in the Guardian, yet to me and thousands of others it is how "doorstep services" are delivered and controlled which matters most. There is an overwhelming case for electing more powerful councillors to represent single member wards able to innovate and control budgets. This is the debate I'd like Jenkins and others to take part in, but I can hear him now ... "boring, yawn, yawn".
Robert Howard
Lenton, Nottinghamshire

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

A raft of firms are vying for places on Transport for London’s (TfL) legal panel, as the local government body carries out its first review in five years.

 

Successful firms will also do work for the Greater London Authority, which is now part of TfL’s remit.

The current panel line-up consists of Ashurst, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Bird & Bird, Clifford Chance, Eversheds, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith, K&L Gates, Manches, Simmons & Simmons, Travers Smith and Wragge & Co.

 

Selected firms are being invited to pitch this month to advise on a range of issues, including projects and commercial contracts, employment, property and projects.

TfL general counsel Howard Cater and legal director Andrea Clarke are leading the review.

A spokesperson for TfL said it is still “early days” in the process and it is not clear how big the panel will be or how long the agreements will be for.

In 2011 the abolished London Development Agency’s legal team was absorbed into the GLA and TfL shared legal services team (19 September 2011).

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

G4S Cash Solutions (G4S), the largest provider of cash solutions in the UK, has been appointed by Transport for London (TfL) to manage the organisation’s cash flow for two years in a deal worth more than £1million.

Building on their existing five year partnership, G4S Cash Solutions will account for all cash processes across at least two thirds of London’s underground network.

Cash handling equipment provided by G4S reduces the time spent tracking money by TfL employees by approximately 30 minutes per shift allowing that time to be spent meeting the needs of those using the London Underground.

Jeremy Hook, National Account Manager at G4S Cash Solutions (UK), said: “It is vital that a transport network as busy as the London Underground operates efficiently from the train platforms to the back office. We are keen to build on the cash management improvements established so far and ensure that Transport for London has a robust end to end service for its customers.”

Andrew Key, Revenue Interface Manager at Transport for London, added: “Catering for commuters and visitors to London is no mean feat so we needed a cash services provider who could offer a tailored service which allows us to track and circulate cash across the network. G4S has proven that it can support us with a dedicated team of employees who understand our business needs and objectives.”

For more information on G4S, visit http://www.g4s.com

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

London 2012: TfL details Games rail and Tube hotspots

TfL said some parts of the transport network would be exceptionally busy during the Games


Related Stories

Olympics organisers have published details of the Tube and rail "hotspots" that those who live, work and travel in London should avoid during the Games.

The information provides a "final picture" on which stations will be most affected from 27 July, they said.

Up to three million extra journeys are expected to be made in London alone on the busiest days until the closing ceremony on 12 August.

Bank, Earl's Court and London Bridge stations will be "exceptionally busy".

Final picture

The "hotspot" information is based on the operational plans of TfL, Network Rail, train operating companies and ATOC (the Association of Train Operating Companies).

It includes detailed descriptions for the previously announced pressure points plus 53 additional Tube and DLR stations and five more London Overground stations.

Transport for London (TfL) said that while about two thirds of Tube and DLR stations will be unaffected, the spread of hotspot stations across the public transport network means the DLR, Central and Jubilee lines will be "exceptionally busy" at certain times.

Londoners have been advised to try to work from home, stagger working hours, work longer but fewer days, take annual leave and swap to walking and cycling where possible.

TfL said almost 500 major businesses employing more than 600,000 people have signed up for specific travel advice and have drafted travel plans which they have shared with TfL.

Transport Secretary, Justine Greening, said: "I encourage businesses and individuals to plan how they are going to travel this summer, so we can deliver a fantastic Games that the whole country can be part of and proud of."

She added that government staff members were also being encouraged to "work and travel more flexibly" during the Games.

Organising committee chair Sebastian Coe said: "London and the UK is gearing up to welcome the world this summer when 15,000 athletes, 7,000 technical officials, thousands of media and millions of spectators will be travelling on our transport networks.

"As the success of the Games depends on all of us doing our bit to keep London and the UK moving, I'd like to urge everyone to plan now."

The Olympic Games run from 27 July to 12 August and the Paralympic Games from 29 August to 9 September.

 

You must be logged in to reply

  Search thread   Image gallery
« 1 2 of 9 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 »
 
Display from:   
 

Don't forget to LIKE us on Facebook at: Railpage Facebook Feed