The Thick of It

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Boris burns your cash and ignores the future

The London Mayor has a good amount of power to change the city through a range of management, financial and infrastructure levers. The big three issues for Londoners often focus on crime, transport and housing. Wit the latter two the mayor has to plan for the future because what happens in their four year terms often doesn't bear to fruition until much later.



Just look at current mayor Boris Johnson's introduction of a new "Routemaster" style bus. His four years are almost up and we haven't yet seen any on the road, though craftily we will just in time for the forthcoming election. Taking a deeper look at Boris' mayoralty and his claimed transport achievements and we see a celebration of many projects that he had very little to do with.

The expansion of London Overground was set in motion by Ken Livingstone as was the major East London regeneration resulting from the Olympics. That happened because Livingstone planned ahead. Unlike the current mayor. Boris has left us with very little to help sate the demands of a growing city in the future. A loss making cycle scheme and loss making cable car, together with the world's most expensive bus.

That brings us to Crossrail. Boris and his Tory pals confirmed it when in office, but the project was planned and budgeted for by both a Labour mayor and government. When Ken says he will plan for Crossrail 2 and a Crossrail 3, I believe him because he has delivered in the past. All we are likely to get from Boris is a "yeah me too" or "how about we introduce a sponsored air balloon system that won't cost taxpayers any money."

Whoever wins in May has to think beyond the next election and be adult enough to think beyond politics. Otherwise their role as mayor is to tinker around the edges and leave London ill-prepared for the future.

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