Sutton Tram

MQT on 2017-01-18
Session date: 
January 18, 2017
Question By: 
Steve O'Connell
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


What is TfL's current estimate on the cost of the Sutton Tram Extension?


Answer for Sutton Tram

Answer for Sutton Tram

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I should have said earlier that it is good to see you back in good health and good spirits and back with us again today.  It really is nice to see you.  I know that you have been working hard with the local council on this, Assembly Member O’Connell, and I am grateful for the efforts you are making.


I visited Sutton, in particular the site of the London Council Hub in Belmont, in November and I had a productive meeting with the Borough Leader, Councillor Dombey, where we discussed the scheme.  My Deputy Mayor for Transport, Valerie Shawcross, and TfL’s Commissioner, Mike Brown, subsequently visited Sutton in December to discuss the next steps for tram extension.  TfL estimates that the capital cost of the Sutton tram extension is approximately £330 million in 2015 prices.  That is the link from South Wimbledon Underground to Sutton Railway Station.  A further extension to the south of Sutton Town Centre to the London Council Hub has an additional cost expected to be around £100 million, depending on the route taken. 


Although a specific budget has not been allocated for this, a contribution towards the scheme could be available during the business plan period through the TfL Growth Fund, which will be used to help boroughs fund schemes that will help unlock growth and develop opportunities.  Around £200 million of this is presently unallocated, and a portion of this could supplement a funding package for the Sutton extension.  TfL is now working with both Sutton and Merton Councils to look at the business case.


Steve O’Connell AM:  Thank you very much, Mr Mayor.  Indeed, I am meeting the executive director tomorrow at Sutton to hear about Sutton’s work around this.  You are probably aware that Sutton is the only borough - it is particularly badly provided with public transport - that has no Tube, no London Overground, and Crossrail will not touch it.  It is fair to say regarding your manifesto pledge around the fare freeze that it is a borough that particularly not affected or benefiting by that fares freeze.  It would be fair to posit that.  Therefore, coming out of your fares freeze, there are intrinsically some capital cuts and less investment.


Would you agree that Sutton Borough is particularly disadvantaged - shall we say - by your fares freeze policy?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  You raise a number of points.  Can I address all of them?  Firstly, like you, I do not want to talk down Sutton, but Sutton’s public transport links are not great.


Steve O’Connell AM:  Exactly.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Not just the Council but the neighbouring councils and others understand the importance of improving public transport in Sutton.


I do not accept that there will be less investment going forward.  We have found huge savings and increased revenue streams to make sure that we can make the investment happen going forward.  What we are doing in conversation with Sutton and Merton is seeing how we can use new housing as a way to maximise capital investment towards a Sutton tram link extension.  To be fair to Sutton Council and to be fair to Merton Council, they are receptive to the idea of maximising the contribution they would have to make to an extension.


By the way, that is the expectation from central Government in relation to all capital investment when it comes to transport.  We have had good conversations with central Government about projects that London needs in relation to infrastructure investment and it expects us to contribute, not unreasonably, as I think you would accept.  TfL would contribute, but we would expect the Council to look at ways of making contributions to an extension.


You are right that the potential of Sutton is huge.  It has a fantastic council hub and lots of young people who are trying to get schooled-up for good jobs, but transport links to central London are not great, particularly with some of the community services that we have talked about in previous questions being poor.


Steve O’Connell AM:  We cannot predicate the tram extension on the council hub because the council hub is something that may or may not happen in years to come.  I have been living and breathing this for eight years, along with other people.  The narrative you have just given is correct, but it is no different from what I heard under the previous Mayor.  Basically, the Council has been very slow to commit.  I will clarify this tomorrow when I meet them.  It appears to me their inclinations and capacity to contribute considerably to this growing budget I have some doubts around.  Basically, I dragged the previous Mayor kicking and screaming to put £100 million into the budget.  That has now been taken out of the budget. 


Mr Mayor, you mentioned the Growth Fund of, in totality, £200 million.  That is to serve all of London’s needs and so it beggars belief that we can look in substance to the Growth Fund to contribute towards a scheme that is £330 million.  We could not really practically say that, could we?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  There is no reason why Sutton cannot bid for that money, but it is important for Sutton to look at how it can make the sums add up and we are willing to help it get there.  I do not want to criticise Sutton Council in its absence, but it needs to be more ambitious in relation to the monies it is going to have to contribute toward a Sutton tram extension.  There is money there in the Growth Fund.  There is £200 million.  There is no reason at all why there could not be a significant contribution toward the Sutton tram extension.


I would remind you of course - I could remind you if the Chair would allow me - of previous promises made by the previous Mayor that were broken, but we both know about those and so I am not going to do that.


The reality is that there are monies there.  We are willing to work with Sutton Council.  I have been there.  The Deputy Mayor for Transport has been there.  The Commissioner has been there.  We think it can happen.  We are speaking to Merton as well because it is important for both boroughs. 


Steve O’Connell AM:  Do you have a figure on Sutton’s contribution, may I ask?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Just do the maths.  If the total figure is £330 million and if, for example - hypothetically speaking - £100 million were to come from the Growth Fund, you can work out the difference.


Steve O’Connell AM:  Yes.  The last time Sutton put its hand in its pocket - and that was with some tweaking and pushing and shoving with a pointed stick - it was £40 million.  There is a massive gap.  I will leave it there because there is much work to be done over the coming year.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Just to underscore your point, I know you are trying very hard, like I am, not to be party political here about Sutton Council but, to be fair, the previous allocation of £100 million plus £46 million still leaves us short of the 2015 estimate.  Even if you are being generous to me, which is not usual ‑‑


Steve O’Connell AM:  Unlike some people, I am a very generous spirit.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ even the previous Mayor, with £100 million plus £46 million, was way short of £330 million.  Sutton does need to move a lot more.


Steve O’Connell AM:  If you take the £100 million away, in my view, it takes Sutton Council a little bit off the hook.  I will leave it there, if I may.