Sadiq Khan has said he got the government to back down over plans to close one of the London Underground lines or cut a quarter of all bus services.
The London mayor revealed he’d fought the proposals during the negotiations for a £1 billion bailout deal between Transport for London and the government, announced yesterday , which will keep services running for another 6 months.
“Some of the worst conditions, which could have materialised, had we not managed to overcome these during the tough negotiations, were us having to make recurring savings of £300 million pounds a year.”
“The only way to make [those] savings [was] by cutting 20 per cent of our buses, or closing one of our 12 tube lines down.
“[But] we were quite clear: those are options I’m not willing to even consider and to give credit to the government they backed down.”
However, Khan was quick to add that the deal he’d got to safeguard TfL for another half year, was not without its drawbacks.
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The Mayor of London had hoped a longer term arrangement would be reached once he had been confirmed in post for another three years, although he conceded in the wake of his election victory that another short term deal was probable .
He said that near £2 billion of savings the government was asking for meant the would still be difficult decisions ahead.
A further £900 million of cuts are required by TfL this year in addition to the £730 million it has already agreed.
“It’s going to be tough and I’ve got to be straight with Londoners: There are no pain free options.”
The mayor said he’d spoken to Transport Secretary Gran Shapps over the weekend, with whom claimed to have a “good personal relationship,” and was confident that the relationship with the government would improve to the point where he would get a longer term deal.
“I’m keen to, over the next six months, to improve relations with the government.
“I think now the election’s out of the way, there’s no reason for the government to use London as a political football.
“I’m hoping that the fact that we’ve got a deal is a good omen going forward.”
Responding to the mayor’s comments the Department for Transport directed My London to an open letter from Grant Shapps to Sadiq Khan following the deal .
In it Shapps wrote that the impact of the second wave of the virus and subsequent lockdown meant there was still not a clear enough picture of what the future transport needs would look like.
“It is thus still too early to make long-term capital funding commitments of the kind you seek – many of which appear to assume that, for instance, commuter demand to central London will return exactly as before,” Shapps wrote.
“We have therefore provided this third short-term deal on a very similar basis to the one you agreed last October. This will give us all more time to understand future demand better, and to draw up a longer-term funding agreement which all sides, including all those paying for it, can support.”
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