Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Transport Reshuffle

On the whole I am pleased with the reshuffle so far. It is good to see talented individuals like Chris Grayling and Maria Miller rewarded with seats around the Cabinet table, however the news coming out of DfT is worrying - at least so far...

Boris has already seized upon the removal of Transport Secretary Justine Greening and her Minister of State Theresa Villiers as evidence that the government is about to U-turn on its commitment to oppose a third runway at Heathrow. They were both strongly opposed to the project as is the Mayor, but nobody in London can have missed the recent public lobbying in favour by business and the aviation industry. The new ministers represent seats outside London so their stance on Heathrow may be more flexible and less affected by constituency concerns. Boris is promising to make a robust stand against 'mad' plans to resurrect the Third Runway.

At Westminster transport is not seen as a big deal. Traditionally the Secretaries of State are young ministers on their way up and they don't expect to stay long - under Labour their tenures were also short. But in London government, transport is one of our greatest challenges, along with policing. Having ministers with constituencies in London gives the Mayor a great advantage, not just when dealing with Heathrow, but when arguing for any transport improvements. When Boris makes the case for Crossrail and the Tube renewal programme, he knows that he is making it to informed and receptive politicians with half an eye on their voters.

Some years ago I gave evidence to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee. We were talking about the collapse of Metronet, but it quickly became clear that some of the MPs from Scotland and The North were more keen on proving that London was getting more than its share of transport investment. There was clearly some prejudice against the Capital and I fear that it still persists in Parliament.

We have yet to see the most junior appointments to the Department for Transport and I hope that Londoners will be included at some point, otherwise fighting our corner could prove more difficult in future.

UPDATE: Whilst I was out at the gym Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon has been appointed to transport as a junior minister, so London still has a voice, albeit much reduced...

1 comment:

George Johnston said...

Dear Roger,

As a fellow blogger, I would be very grateful if you could read my latest post about your colleague Richard Tracey and his cretinous behaviour today (which relates to Transport issues in the Capital):


Many thanks,

George Johnston