Emma Best criticises Sadiq Khan for distancing from the police
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Lord Moylan accused the London Mayor of “playing politics” with transport in the capital rather than working to run its finances properly. He said failures in the running of Transport for London (TfL), which many Londoners rely on for their daily commutes, stem from two “dangerous pledges” made during his election bid.
Writing in On London, Lord Moylan said: “[Mr Khan] came to office on two dangerous pledges.
“One was a fares freeze – at a time when public transport was heaving with people and there was money there for him to collect if he wanted to…
“Khan’s second dangerous pledge was that there would be no strikes on the Underground on his watch.
“That is easily achieved – you just give in to union demands – but it’s expensive.”
Judging from these events, Lord Moylan concluded former Labour candidate for London Mayor Ken Livingstone – “who took the trouble to understand how TfL worked” – would have been preferable in the position.
Under Mr Khan’s watch, the peer claimed Londoners has suffered from a huge increase in subsidies to buses due to ill thought-out Hopper fare plans.
He also criticised the Mayor’s policies which produced a considering growth in the number of Tube drivers, at no insubstantial cost.
Even positive occurrences were marred by mismanagement, he said.
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Lord Moylan wrote: “To Khan’s credit, he did embark on a reduction in managerial head count [in TfL].
“But severance costs insisted on by unions mean the benefits to cash flow take a couple of years to come through so we can set that at nil in the four-year period in question.”
This was made only worse when the pandemic hit, by which time a “history of unforced errors” meant ministers were sceptical of handing over too much cash without keeping a close track on its spending, he said.
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Tory London Assembly member Tony Devenish described Lord Moylan’s article as a must-read for Londoners.
In a post on Twitter, he said the peer’s “wise words” could help one to “understand the harm Sadiq Khan is causing to TfL, to London’s transport and to our great city”.
Fellow Assembly member Keith Prince added it revealed how Mr Khan’s “decision to play politics is undermining his officers’ attempts to reach a deal with the Government”.
Lawyer and Labour Party member George Peretz QC responded, however, that “the underlying problem that emerges [from Lord Moylan’s case] is seriously tangled accountability”.
He said: “That tangled accountability is inherent in a devolution settlement that leaves the Mayor in charge of TfL but (in the absence of adequate tax-raising powers of his own) dependent on central Government for its funding – especially in a pandemic when revenues collapsed.
“In such a case, the Mayor can blame Government for not funding/imposing conditions, and the UK Government can blame Mayoral decisions.
“What is the ordinary voter supposed to make of that?”
The London Mayoral office has been approached for comment.
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