Improving services for London's rail passengers (Supplementary) [2]

Session date: 
November 18, 2009
Question By: 
Roger Evans
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


f course, in the enlightened areas of Romford and Gidea Park we had our Oyster readers installed at the stations in the last few months in response to a big campaign that was run amongst local people to make them available. Paradoxically, this actually made matters worse because suddenly people realised that, although the readers were there, they still could not use pay as you go and my post bag is actually filled up with people complaining about that since then, so they will be pleased to see an end to this and the ability to use Pay As You Go on my patch as well.

What steps will you be taking to publicise that date and to let everyone know that it will be available? It is something that is causing great concern and we do not have, as Tony [Arbour] is suggesting, Liberal Democrats in our corner of London so there will not be a Focus newsletter for my residents to read.


Answer for Improving services for London's rail passengers (Supplementary) [2]

Answer for Improving services for London's rail passengers (Supplementary) [2]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

If John [Biggs] is back in his seat, this is one of those things that we have announced several times. If I am totally candid this has been a much trailed excitement but we will be making it very, very loud and clear on 23 November 2009 and making sure that people are aware of the facility from 2 January 2010.

Brian Coleman (AM): Mr Mayor, I am disappointed that on your list of meetings you have not had a meeting with First Capital Connect to bring home to it the issues which many of my constituents are suffering - in Mill Hill, Hendon, Cricklewood, West Hampstead and all the stations - in its current non-dispute. Will you ask appropriate officers to have a look in to see if there is anything we can do to assist and make sure that the thousands of commuters in north west London are not inconvenienced, as they have been in the last two or three weeks? I think we are down to about one train every 45 minutes from Mill Hill Broadway in the rush hour, which is just absurd, and this is because of the alleged shortage of drivers. Do you not think it is time First Capital Connect got its act sorted out?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I will just read out the last two paragraphs of a letter I sent last week to Lord Adonis [Secretary of State for Transport] on this matter in which I point out, exactly as you do, the deep anxiety of many Londoners and the irritation they are suffering. I say,

'I would much appreciate an urgent update of the actions you [that is the Department for Transport] are taking and I am keen to assist you in any way you see appropriate to expedite the return to normal service.

Given your recent action with National Express East Anglia may I also suggest that, unless these cancellations are resolved soon, you might consider the position of this particular franchise holder'.

I think that he should, I think that it is a disgrace and I hope that action will be taken.

This reinforces the point that everybody has been making throughout this morning which is that there is a growing overwhelming case for London bodies, the bodies in which we sit, to have democratic oversight over the franchise holders who control the lives and the journeys to work of our constituents.

Darren Johnson (Chair): Thank you. John Biggs indicated earlier he wanted to make a point of order on this item. Do you still wish to?

John Biggs (AM): The point of order I wanted to raise, Chair, is that the Mayor is intended to raise matters of importance and policy and decision since his last report. To my knowledge he has never advised the Assembly of his plan to integrate ticketing - we have been talking about it for years - but, instead, intends to announce it through a press stunt in a couple of weeks' time. I think that is a contemptuous act and shows a disregard for his statutory requirement to bring things to our attention. So I am concerned that the Assembly should want to record its concern on this matter.

Darren Johnson (Chair): I have been advised that it is a valid point of order. Mayor?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): It is a valid point of order? Well what I will say to that is I have to say, with the greatest and humblest respect to my friend, John [Biggs], I do think that - and this is the point I was making - unless I miss my guess, the integration of Overground and Underground and the use of Oyster on --

Darren Johnson (Chair): Mayor, I was not asking you to explain your decision --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Can I just repeat the point? Was one of the first things that we discussed. I remember going out to west London with Peter Hendy [Commissioner, TfL] --

John Biggs (AM): We have been talking about it for years. You are right.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): -- to launch the first stations that had a swipe in swipe out system and it was always open - and this was a public event, it was covered on the television - to Members of the Assembly to ask me questions about this. If you had wanted to raise that issue you were perfectly at liberty to do so. I cannot, with all due respect, sit down and devise your questions for you. I could help you with the phrasing of them sometimes but I really cannot write them for you --

Darren Johnson (Chair): Mr Mayor, this is not about questioning; this is about you signing a Mayoral decision and then not reporting it in your Mayor's report. All we can do is we can note this decision when I move the motion to note the answers to the questions today. We will have to note this decision but you should be reporting Mayoral decisions to this Assembly in your report.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I am sure that all Mayoral decisions are duly made available but I am sure that you will have a very moving motion in due course and I look forward to it.

Darren Johnson (Chair): Thank you. We will now move on.