Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Questions


Question Time with the mayor this morning. The Mayor unveiled his economic package to see London through the recession, led by a council tax freeze. Greens and Labour were unimpressed, depicting the saving for Londoners as only 11p per week. These are the same people who defended Livingstone's increases as only the price a walnut whip per week. It is sometimes hard to believe that they have a clue about money, because over a year these are significant amounts and even more important is the culture change which leads to year on year savings. Over time the difference is clear - everyone expects Wandsworth to charge a lower council tax than Haringey, yet that is down to the political culture of these authorities rather than the quality of the services provided. This freeze signals the direction in which London government is now progressing.


Freedom Pass

The assembly welcomed the introduction of 24 hour Freedom Passes on 2nd January. I sounded a note of caution, highlighting the poor quality of bus driving that leads to falls and injuries amongst passengers. TfL now have a good training programme but the high turnover of staff means that teaching careful driving skills is a constant need. Perhaps the recession will lead to bus drivers remaining in their jobs for longer.


Congestion Charge

The assembly welcomed the decision to end the Western Extension and last week's vote when Mancunians rejected the charge in their city. Victoria Borwick urged the mayor to consider granting Londoners a vote on possible abolition of the charge altogether. Boris refused to go so far, but the idea remains on the table.


Outer London Commission

We noted the establishment of a new Outer London Commission, in a helpful departure from the previous mayor's approach, in which Outer London was largely ignored except when the bills were sent out. Four Buddhas of Suburbia - myself, Richard Tracy, Tony Arbour, Brian Coleman - urged Boris to preserve the character of our boroughs and reject the existing London Plan with its pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap development policies. We await the findings of the new commission.


Turning the Volume Down

I drew the mayor's attention to noise complaints from residents around South Woodford and Grange Hill stations. The Central Line has brought in a new public address system on the platforms, but the volume is so loud that residents can get travel information in their back gardens, along with frequent requests not to smoke and take their litter home...

The situation is under review but how hard can it be to find the volume knob?
The Ghost of Christmas Past
And Ken was back in his usual place - The Ghost of Christmas Past.

10 comments:

judith said...

I sincerely hope the Outer London Commission will see sense about the ludicrous density of housing, and the strain it puts on local services.

Not to mention the harm that hundreds of crammed homes does to the environment and the people who live in them.

John M Ward said...

Another insightful report on what goes on inside the Gherkin! I find this stuff fascinating — but perhaps I'm just a saddo who should get out more :-)

Roger Evans said...

John, if you want to be really engrossed you can watch the whole 2.5 hours on the Parliament Channel.

For us, it's not a job - it's a way of life...

AdamB said...

"because over a year these are significant amounts"

What £6 a year for a Band D household? Come on Roger. What about the genuinely significant amounts to be added to our fares in January?

weggis said...

What Judith said!

I see you are featured on Iain Dale's blog. Wot, no post here!

John, it is the "Headlamp" not the "Gherkin"!

Roger Evans said...

Come on Adam, the fare rise would have come in if Livingstone had won, no doubt justified with some empty promises. The council tax cut however would not have been brought in by Ken.

So we are all better off than we would have been, even you. I would have expected a bit more gratitude in this festive season...

Roger Evans said...

Weggis, well spotted! I have the photograph but my technical skills didn't stretch to unzipping the file, so you were spared an article...

The good news is that as of today the nativity scene is still under the tree, facing through the window and offering a refreshing traditional Christmas welcome to City Hall visitors.

The Headlamp and the Gherkin were both designed by Norman Foster, so there are similarities. There are also other names for the Headlamp.

AdamB said...

"Come on Adam, the fare rise would have come in if Livingstone had won"

This is based on what exactly?

Peter Hulme Cross said...

Whilst agreeing with your sentiments about the Outer London Boroughs, Roger, please excuse me a moment while I fall off my chair laughing!!!

"Buddhas of Suburbia" indeed!

Well, with a huge stretch of the imagination and sharp intake of breath, maybe - for yourself, Richard Tracey and Tony Arbour. But Brian Coleman!!!! Come on, Toad of Toad Hall is surely more appropriate for him!?

Anyway, Happy Christmas!

Roger Evans said...

Hi Peter, nice to hear from you - hope life is treating you well, and you aren't missing us too much.

Have a good Christmas and perhaps we can meet up in the New Year...