Saturday, February 24, 2007

I'm Going Places

According to yesterday's Standard, so it must be true:

Roger Evans, Tory transport spokesman doggedly questions the Mayor on plans for a Greenwich congestion charge, despite assurances that "there is no scheme".

But if there really are no plans why waste time on a survey of public opinion? And why were people given five different options for such a scheme but not a 'none of the above' option if the Mayor has an open mind? And why, if it is entirely a matter for Greenwich Council without TfL involvement, is the option of combining the Greenwich zone with the existing (extended) zone for payment purposes, being considered? And why isn't the consultation taking place over a wider area if the Blackwall Tunnel is to be affected?

So many questions - but no real answers last week....

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Londoner - March Edition

There was no February edition, but this month it's back with a vengeance. Headlines include:

Mayor Ken vows to fight London Assembly attacks on capital's free bus and tram travel (front page)

People say career opportunities are best thing about London

Join in London's St Patrick's Day celebration

Cheap fares and free tickets mean young people have a ticket to ride

London remembers the crimes of slavery

I'll protect free fares (Livingstone's column)

Train firms agree to Oyster pay as you go

Welcome spring celebrating Newroz in Shoreditch Park

Hundreds more officers will make stations safer

C-Charge extension starts: Bigger zone means less congestion and pollution in central and west London

London Olympics will be greenest in modern times

Arts centre that kick started stars careers faces closure

Londoners' confidence in Met grows as crime falls

London: World's favourite city (centre spread)

TfL have purchased the usual full page adverts on pgs 4, 16 and 20.

There is also a competition to win a trip to the World Athletics Championships in Osaka and a meal with Seb Coe...

Friday, February 09, 2007

Viva Castro!!

We get some interesting propositions. This from the City Hall in house newsletter, London@Work.

GLA UNISON and the Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC) are organising a free lunchtime film screening of two short films, On the Slopes of the Himalayas, and Let There Be Light, about the work done by Cuban medical teams around the world.

Representatives of CSC will be there to introduce the films and to give an update on the current situation in Cuba.

A Cuban lunch will be provided. All staff are welcome.

Hmm, I'll just have to check my diary...

The Clash of Civilisations

Is already costing us money:

Richard Barnes: Did the cost of the 'Clash of Civilisations' conference remain £156,000? If not, will the Mayor provide details of the under or over spend?

Ken Livingstone: Well over two thousand people attended the event and made their voice heard on this important issue for Londoners. A budget of £162,000 was allocated to this project and the estimated costs are £154,000.

So they made a 'saving'.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

TfL Hit the Jackpot

And commuters pay...

Roger Evans: How much additional revenue does TfL expect to receive from this year's fare package?

Ken Livingstone: The fares revision is expected to raise an additional £57m pa on the bus network and Croydon Tramlink and £55m pa for the Underground, making £112m pa total.

'Revision' means 'increase' in the TfL dictionary.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Peace Comes at a Price

The answers are now available from the January Mayor's Question Time. Let's start with this from One London:

Damian Hockney: Could the Mayor tell us how much the December 13, 2006 Peace Reception in City Hall cost, how much did CND and the Stop The War Coalition contribute and how much was paid for by the GLA or the Mayor's Office?

Could the Mayor tell us how many people attended the December 13, 2006 Peace Reception at City Hall?

Ken Livingstone: The Peace Reception cost £5,637.10. All costs were paid for from the International Affairs team budget within the Mayor's Office. CND and Stop the War Coalition helped staff the event and provided other in kind support.

Around 200 people attended the reception.

So around £28 per attendee, funded by the council tax payer. And can anybody say what the 'in kind support' provided by CND and Stop The War amounted to?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Greens Go Cheap

Unless you are paying council tax in London. At last week's budget setting meeting the Green Members invited the Assembly to note a paper which outlined the deal they had done with Livingstone to support his proposal to raise the council tax precept by 5.3%. This included an extra £47m to be spent on green initiatives - and no questions asked about the rest of the budget. Here is their letter to the Mayor, closing the deal.

Dear Ken,

Thank you for your detailed response to the budget priorities we have put forward.

We said that we needed to be satisfied that your budget for 2007 / 08 would set London on course to tackle climate change.

In the light of the funding package and other commitments proposed, we are satisfied that your budget and other associated plans (especially the Climate Change Action Plan) make up a serious framework to address climate change in London, and deserve our support.

This support for your draft budget 2007 / 08 is given on the clear understanding that it will not lead to an increase in the council tax precept of more than 29p a week for a band D tax payer.

We look forward to real progress over the next year and beyond in meeting the huge challenge posed by climate change, and the delivery of other important projects which will make London a safer and healthier city.

Yours Sincerely

Jenny Jones AM and Darren Johnson AM
Green Party Group in the London Assembly

Whether or not you view the spending as desirable, it is in addition to Livingstone's existing proposals, and raises the cost of London Government - now up by 147% since May 2000 -still further, and illustrates the cost disadvantages of coalitions created by proportional representation.