Crossrail v LDA (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
November 10, 2007
Question By: 
Peter Hulme Cross
Organisation: 
One London Party
Asked Of: 
Mary Reilly, Chair, London Development Agency

Question

Yes, you are absolutely right. London generates an enormous amount of wealth - according to the London Chamber of Commerce about £13 - £20 billion - which is then taken by the Government and used to subsidise the rest of the country, if not Scotland. We can certainly do with more money. As far as Crossrail is concerned, the Mayor has said that is probably the most important project, even more important than the Olympics. Nevertheless, the Government still found themselves with a shortfall of over £300 million and turned to the City to stump up yet more money in taxes in order to pay it.

Now your budget is, what, £420 million, which you draw down from the Government. In fact you managed to draw down more last year. If we used your budget on certain other projects, we could have better flood defences for London, we could have a trolley-bus network along the Uxbridge Road, we could have an interceptor tunnel to stop sewage going into the Thames; we could have a number of different projects. You justified your budget by saying that you try to maximise the economic benefits. I wonder whether really we would get better value if we actually spent that money on some of these other projects that I have mentioned.

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Crossrail v LDA (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for Crossrail v LDA (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
Mary Reilly, Chair, London Development Agency

I think there is always choice and I agree with you entirely; London needs more money. We do support the rest of the country. Crossrail in that respect is, I think, not just good for London but will be good for the country. I have talked to other business people, other regional development agency chairs outside London, and they have all been very supportive of Crossrail because a lot of them come to the capital for travelling to do their business.

I think though that there are major infrastructure projects that still need doing. Seb Coe [Chair, London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games] talked very convincingly and very movingly, I thought, about the lack of spending in the sporting facilities in this country that has led to some examples, as Dee [Doocey] pointed out, about people having to travel to Sheffield. Equally, we have a city that has some of the most deprived communities in the UK. Child poverty is very high; worklessness or people not able to access the employment market is very high. In my view some of the funding has to go to that. We cannot build a city that is a wonderful, beautiful place for infrastructure if there are people living in this city who cannot access that because they have not had the skills training. I think it is a case of getting the balance.