PPP (Supplementary) [7]

Session date: 
July 18, 2001
Question By: 
John Biggs
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


John Biggs: There is such -

The Mayor: Where do you begin? [Laughter.]

John Biggs: I trust I am going to get a couple of opportunities here. First of all, you said that TfL meets in public, but it clearly does not. The board does, but the subsidiary boards meet in private. We have had to lever information out of them by negotiation with TfL, following the budget this year. It does not meet in public; it makes all its important decisions in private. So that is not true.

Secondly, it is my view - I do not know whether it is the view of my party - that it is a cynical abuse for you to be selectively spinning and quoting from an engineering report, or whatever it is - the one starting with a "B" - yet telling us that you will only release it at 2 o'clock this afternoon, when you have chosen to stand on a platform and issue your soundbites. That is a manipulation, and it is a dishonest manipulation.

Part of the problem with this debate is the selective use of information and its timing. The whole thing is being manipulated, and I think that Londoners are thoroughly pissed off with it. Londoners need to see tangible improvements to the Tube. PPP offers that. You know and I know that, if the Government lose in the court, we will have another year or two of paralysis while we are working out what to do about it. It is not a particularly credible option. The breakdowns will increase because of that paralysis, not because of the flaws in the PPP. [Members: "Question."]

The first question, then, is about rolling stock. There is no evidence whatsoever on this. Indeed, it would be a dereliction of the PPP, if it goes ahead, if it did not lead to replacement of rolling stock - not necessarily all of it, but certainly some - within the first 10 years. It is spinning, and there is no substance in fact behind the suggestion that that will not happen.

As for "tarting up" stations, is it not a fact that Londoners are expected to put up with terrible conditions in our stations, in the hot weather for example, with escalators broken down and circulation areas crowded? They need to have walls knocked down and improvements made. We are aspiring to provide access for people with disabilities and mobility problems, and repairs to stations will take place to provide for that.

Is it not also a fact that, if you are going to replace tracks and lines, you can do so for only six hours a day, whereas you can obviously repair stations 24 hours a day? To compare them, and to say that the scheme will "tart up" stations up front, and only at the end will it lazily get round to fixing the lines, is nonsense. Can you defend that?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for PPP (Supplementary) [7]

Answer for PPP (Supplementary) [7]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

The Mayor: If there is ever going to be an Oscar for best performance with an abysmal brief, John should be nominated for it. [Laughter.]

John Biggs: I think you were awarded it for life a long time ago.

The Mayor: Bob Kiley made it absolutely clear that, under his alternative proposals, seven stations would go ahead - those which suffer the most severe overcrowding. One immediately thinks of the problems you see almost nightly of people trying to get into Oxford Circus station. There are stations that require immediate work because of the pressure -

John Biggs: So that is not tarting up, then?

The Mayor: No, that is not tarting up.

John Biggs: Ah.

The Mayor: That would go ahead if Bob Kiley had control of the programme.

But what worries me is very much the rebuilding of a station with the main objective being not necessarily the improvement of passenger flow but the provision of office and commercial rents as a rapid source of income. Given that the SDS will set new planning guidelines for density and height, this is the wrong time to be looking at that speculative development. You should wait and see what the new planning rules are likely to be, and we might get an overall better deal for London.

As for the 10-year rolling stock thing, Bob Kiley has been saying this since he got access to the documents, and no one has challenged him - not the Government, not the infracos. Bob Kiley looked at that, and saw that there was no provision for the replacement of rolling stock in the first 10 years. If one of the bidders wants to say, "No, we are planning to do that," I will apologise immediately, but this has now been in the public domain as one of Bob Kiley's charge for some time.

On the question of spinning the Parsons Brinckerhoff report, I have seen a copy this morning for the first time. We are getting it into the public domain -

John Biggs: Yet you are an expert on it.

The Mayor: No, I am not an expert on it. I have not had time to read it. One of my staff has gone through it and has extracted the quotes I gave you. They do not seem to me the sort of things that are going to be out of context. They are pretty damning. It is hard to think that -