Thursday, December 22, 2011

Council Tax Freeze

Boris has published his proposals for the 2012-13 budget. In the forward he states:

I am delighted to announce that as part of my budget for 2012-13, I will again be able to freeze the GLA's Council Tax precept. This means that I have not increased the Council Tax throughout the whole of my first administration. After eight years of continuous rises amounting to an aggregate increase of over 150 percent under my predecessor, the GLA's Council Tax precept has been reduced in real terms by 12 percent under this administration.

Londoners are getting an early Christmas present from their mayor!

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Bendy End

Today sees the last of the bendy buses making their last drive through London. Route 207 from Hayes is the last to be 'debendified', with standard double deckers replacing the unpopular articulated vehicles. Reduced fare evasion on the former bendy routes is set to save TfL over £5 million per year.

Meanwhile the first of the new super clean Boris Buses is due to arrive in the capital. In the coming months eight prototype models will be tested on London's streets to see how they stand up to our stop-start traffic and heavy passenger volumes. With any problems identified and resolved this trial should pave the way for their arrival en masse after the Olympics.

Like buses, the delivered manifesto promises arrive in twos...

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Sponsoring London

This morning the budget committee took evidence from TfL deputy chairman Daniel Moylan. We were looking at the sponsorship deals for the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme and the Emirates Cable Car, as well as future options for exchanging private money for publicity or naming rights.

A Question of Taste

Daniel accepted that there were limits imposed by generally accepted considerations of good taste.

The McDonalds Buckingham Palace Experience would in his view be a step too far, and I'm inclined to agree.

Renaming Knightsbridge Station as Harrods would also be off the agenda - although I can't see why, given that many of the passengers travelling to Knightsbridge are heading for the upmarket department store, indeed a renaming in this case might actually help tourists to find their way. Naming a station after a football club would be considered, indeed Arsenal set the trend many years ago.

A proposal to temporarily rename Oxford Circus as Oxford Landing (after a brand of wine) had been turned down as failing just about every test that TfL applied to sponsorship.

And the Spearmint Rhino Cable Car, whilst never on offer would have been deemed inappropriate too - as well as distracting from the river crossing views...

And whilst having short term loanmakers sponsoring free travel on New Year's Eve was not seen as a mistake, it seemed pretty clear that there would be no repeat of this donation.

And the agreement cuts both ways, so if strikes or inefficiencies damage the services then the sponsors would be entitled to some of their money back. In the case of the cable car, TfL have to provide 97% reliability over 28 days or Emirates get a partial refund.

Future Deals

An agreement to sponsor free bottled water on the Tube during hot weather had been reached in the past and would be considered for the future.

Venezuelan support for public transport had been agreed in the past but would not be considered by the current administration.

I was keen that TfL explore options for smaller sponsors to contribute to smaller and lower profile schemes. For example, the abandoned project to install a lift at Newbury Park would only cost a couple of million and this could be sought in part from the large superstores near to the station. Or Romford Bus Station - currently a confusing and dirty maze for non locals - could be reorganised and cleaned up using contributions from local businesses in return for permanent publicity. The director from TfL said that options for lower level sponsorship were being considered.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Boris Visits Rainham

This morning Boris arrived in Rainham to see at first hand how the council is transforming this quiet corner of Havering. Joined by council leader Michael White, he visited Rainham Marshes to see a new walkway leading from the station to this nature reserve which provides a refuge for wild geese, voles and the sociable lapwing. We went on to help children plant bulbs in the gardens of historic Rainham Hall, a National Trust property. Then there was just time to squeeze in a tour of the village and observe the new shop fronts and the Christmas lights all funded by the Mayor's Outer London Fund.