The Thick of It

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Boris Johnson finally works out what being a mayor is all about

The first phase of Boris Johnson's mayoralty was characterised by him doing very little. He wanted the mayor to spend less and do less. He cancelled many of previous mayor Ken Livingstone's planned transport projects and drastically cut the London Development Agency. This was all part of his plan to give Londoners "more bang for their buck."

The second half of Boris' reign has been characterised by a series of expensive, loss making projects, such as the cycle hire and cable car. Now it looks like he is starting to panic by claiming he will take over the running of train services in London.

I actually think that would be a good idea as the benefits of Transport for London management of the London Overground lines in north and east London have seen huge service improvements and growth in usage. I wonder whether Boris would be any good at it though when not long ago he claimed the whole concept unworkable.

I also struggle to believe Boris would do it if he won again. Not only did he scrap some of Livingstone's projects when he got in, such as the Cross River Tram, but he also failed to implement many of his own, such as a tram for Oxford Street. The latter was perhaps a daft idea anyway given the disruption that Crossrail construction has brought the area.

This also shows that Boris is running a reactive campaign. He is responding to the Livingstone proposals to cut fares by trying to offer his version of the same pledge. He is trying to fight Livingstone on his home turf. Boris has woken up to the responsibility of the mayoralty but rather too late.


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