London Assembly members (AMs) from three different parties have joined with Sadiq Khan to urge London Conservative MPs opposed to Boris Johnson continuing as Prime Minister to lobby him “to stop punishing Londoners” and instead provide Transport for London with “the long-term funding deal your constituents and the nation’s economy now need”.
In individual letters to Bob Neill (Bromley & Chislehurst), Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon), Elliot Colburn (Carshalton & Wallington)) and David Simmonds (Ruislip, Northwood & Pinner), the Mayor and AMs Caroline Pidgeon (Liberal Democrat), Sian Berry (Green Party) and Elly Baker (Labour) praise the MPs for opposing Johnson remaining at No 10 in last week’s confidence vote, and ask them to “now join us to speak out against this Government’s attacks on London”.
The letters describe TfL’s finances as having been “decimated by the pandemic due to its reliance on fares income” and asserts that “because Londoners did the right thing, followed the Government’s advice and stayed at home” more than two years later, “TfL, its staff and its customers are still being penalised by the Government, which has only ever offered short term, punitive deals”.
With less than a fortnight to go before the current conditional short-term funding support arrangement is due to expire on 24 June, the letters’ authors claim that “without a change in government approach” TfL will have to move to into its ‘managed decline’ scenario,” which foresees an 18 per cent reduction in bus service capacity and and a nine per cent shrinkage in London Underground services. “We are sure you will agree that this would be disastrous for your constituents and our capital city,” they write.
Neill, a former minister and former AM who co-chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group for London, last week warned the government in the House of Commons that its flagship “levelling up” agenda should not be “at the expense of London”, though he has also in the past been publicly critical of Mayor Khan’s stewardship of TfL, as has Hammond.
Khan, who on Friday wrote to Shapps asking for a face to face meeting to discuss TfL’s finances and stating that government departments have cancelled 20 scheduled meetings about the issue, has been accused by a government source of indulging in “bleeding stump politics” by exploiting TfL’s consultation over changes to central and inner London bus services to accuse Johnson of forcing TfL “to cut 21 routes”.
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