Saturday, December 23, 2006

Wishing a Happy Christmas to all my Visitors

Including those people from the Mayor's office...

Thank you all for your diverse comments and opinions. Plenty more to come in the New Year...

Looking forward to 2007 and the selection of Conservative candidates for the Assembly and, of course, the Mayoralty.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Zone 1 Mayor

At the latest question time Conservative Andrew Pelling asked the following question:

Andrew Pelling: Please list your visits as Mayor to each London Borough since the last Mayoral election in 2004.

The Mayor replied with a long list which showed the following numbers of visits since May 2004:


Westminster 10
Tower Hamlets 8
Newham 5
Camden 5

Occasional Visits

Southwark 4
Hackney 3
Lambeth 3
Ealing 2
Enfield 2
Greenwich 2
Lewisham 2
Barnet 2
Haringey 2
Bromley 2

As Often as Havana

Brent 1
Croydon 1
Merton 1
Wandsworth 1
Kensington & Chelsea 1
Waltham Forest 1
Sutton 1

No Go Areas

Barking & Dagenham
Richmond Upon Thames

The Mayor needs to get out more in the New Year - he has a lot of ground to cover.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Muggles Can Walk

Watch out for the appearance of the politician's favourite station in the next Harry Potter film:

Geoff Pope: Why did London Underground consider it acceptable on Sunday 22 October 2006, to inconvenience thousands of passengers for reasons that do not relate to the maintenance or improvement of the Tube on a weekend when a number of sections of central London Tube lines were already closed?

Ken Livingstone: Although Westminster is a major station, it is relatively quiet on Sundays. There are many bus and Tube alternatives nearby, and all alternative routes were operating normally. This meant that relatively few passengers were inconvenienced. LU received very few complaints and there were no problems on the day.

LU looked at all options for filming. Given the close proximity of various alternative operating routes, and the potential safety issues around keeping the station open during such high profile filming, it was decided that the best option was to close the station.

High profile filming brings many benefits to London, as the Assembly itself points out in its recent report 'Film Friendly London'.

Let's hope that Harry Potter doesn't influence TfL more widely - London isn't ready for flying cars and triple decker buses.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Hug A Blogger - You Know You Want To

This week I discovered that I'm not the only Assembly Member with a blog. My Labour colleague John Biggs, Member for East London, provides his own take on life in London at .

Unlike my own efforts, he provides pictures and gives details of his constituency activities. He also provides unstinting praise for Livingstone and the Blair government, which should provide relief for some of the people we've seen around here in recent days....

So what a shame that despite publishing since May and putting in all that work, the Biggs Report only records 24 profile views and two (!) comments. If you have a spare moment then do drop by and let him know what you think. Your comments don't need to be lengthy - just two words, even one, would be welcome....

Friday, December 08, 2006

It's Row of the Week - Yet Again....

The Evening Standard Inside City Hall column features another spat I'm having with the Mayor:

Mayor Ken used his monthly report to the London Assembly to launch an unprecedented attack on one of its members. The normally anodyne document accused Tory transport spokesman Roger Evans of deliberately misinterpreting mayoral written answers on bus driver standards, extra traffic lights and taxi emissions. Accusing Evans of peddling "bizarre and ludicrous claims", Ken said the "pattern of misrepresentation should give the Assembly cause for concern".

Pot - Kettle - Black.

Just as well the holidays are approaching. The Mayor needs a break - a long one....

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More on the Buses

This response gives a picture of the scale of abuse of Livingstones concessionary bus passes:

Andrew Pelling: How many free bus passes have been withdrawn from both the under 18 and under 16 age group categories and what proportion does each reason given take up as part of the whole?

Ken Livingstone: To date, 2,033 concessionary travel passes have been withdrawn from under 16s:

546 'transferred' - used by someone other than the registered concession holder.
61 expired.
1,039 altered or mutilated.
6 for breach of the behaviour code.
381 for other reasons - including expired passes or where the photo clearly does not match the user.

Of 16 / 17 concessionary passes, four have been withdrawn to date: 2 'transferred' and 2 for other reasons.

It's not a glowing record and almost certainly under estimates the level of abuse because:

Police officers and PCSOs are not empowered to withdraw the cards.
Data protection law has hampered information sharing between the police and TfL.
There is no mechanism to prevent someone obtaining another pass if there own is withdrawn.

Also note that breaches of the behaviour code are also included in the other categories - there have been more than 6 of these.

'Free Travel' Costs Over £50m

The latest estimate for the cost of under 18 free travel is £55 million. Note how the Mayor shamelessly tries to spin this as a redistribution benefit.

Andrew Pelling: What is the latest lost revenue estimate for both the under 18 and under 16 free bus pass scheme?

Ken Livingstone: Free bus travel for the under 16s is estimated to have reduced bus fares revenue by around £35m pa.

Free bus travel for 16/17s in full time education is expected to reduce bus fares revenue by around £20m in a full year.

Put another way, the two schemes are delivering benefits to hard pressed families across London worth over £50m per annum.

These savings should make it less of a struggle for poorer families to fund the final two years of secondary education for their children; and, it is hoped, will encourage more children from poorer homes to stay on at school.

Following the introduction of the two free schemes, bus fares revenue in 2007 is expected to be in excess of £1billion.

Of course the high revenue probably has more to do with inflation busting fare increases over three years, than with giving away free tickets to some groups.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Venezuela & Democracy & Expenses

The Mayor's foreign policy continues to run up costs:

Angie Bray: Can you please provide full details of the cost of hosting the Venezuela and Democracy conference at City Hall on the 28th October?

Ken Livingstone: The cost of the event was £9,514.95:

Catering and catering staff £3,966.95
Interpreters and translation equipment £2,040.00
Audio visual staff £1,670.00
Security staff £1,400.00
Porterage and cleaners £438.00