Thursday, July 19, 2007

London news round-up

Boris to run for London Mayor

TORY MP Boris Johnson has decided to run as a candidate in the London mayoral contest next year. He has not yet been formally nominated by his party and will have to go through a selection procedure.
But it seems likely he will be chosen for his high celebrity status and well-known face to mount a challenge to Ken Livingstone’s hopes of winning a third term.
Johnson is known as an upper class jovial buffoon – not someone who is likely to be competent at running a vast and complex city like London.
But with disaffection with the Labour government running high and some of Livingstone’s policies – like support for London running the Olympics – very unpopular in some quarters, complacency would be a mistake.
Pensioners in particular would be in danger of losing their precious and hard-won freedom pass if Johnson became London Mayor – or for that matter of the mayorship fell into Liberal Democrat hands.
There is no evidence that Johnson has any clue what the freedom pass is or why it should be maintained.
His party is very much in favour of privatisation and would be likely to use London tax payers’ money to bail out the Metronet Tube company, which got its sums wrong when tendering for a Government contract to take on the repair and renewal of three major London Underground railway lines.

Don’t bail out Metronet!

THE RMT transport union is urging London mayor Ken Livingstone not to waste more public money on failed London Underground privateers Metronet and has called for the controversial public-private-partnership (PPP) contracts to be brought back in house. As the PPP arbiter announced that Metronet was likely to get an interim extra £121 million of the £551 million it has asked for to cover “cost overruns” on the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines over the next year, RMT renewed its call for the PPP contracts to be brought back in house.
Metronet is seeking £992 million for overruns for the first seven-and-a-half years of the BCV contract alone, and is expected to file a similar claim for its sub-surface lines contract.
“One-hundred-and-twenty-one-million is still £121 million too much, even if it is nowhere near the £2 billion more of taxpayers’ and fare-payers’ money that Metronet is looking for,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said last Tuesday.
“Even if the PPP was delivering everything expected of it, it would still be less than LUL delivered when it controlled infrastructure work in the public sector, and it would still be costing billions more.
“Metronet, and the PPP scam that has already allowed them to siphon millions out of the Tube network, have clearly failed and it is clearer than ever that these contracts should be brought back in-house before any more damage is done,” Bob Crow said.

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