The New Strategy

Articles, LondonUnlockedEditor1 Comment


Following our repost of the Guardian's editorial earlier today, a new strategy from the Mayor's office is emerging with regards to transport.

Firstly, the appointment of Tim Parker as First Deputy Mayor and Chair of TfL has resulted in yet another campaign pledge being ticked off, the cancellation of the Caracas oil deal which Mayor Livingstone enacted.

As the BBC states:

If any more international tie-ups are to be agreed by Mr Johnson, Londoners can well expect them to be subjected to a rigorous cost-benefit analysis by Tim Parker.

The unpaid First Deputy Mayor will want to make sure that Londoners are getting value for money.

The Times has more on Mr Parker's new role, and what it may mean:

Mr Parker acknowledged that he will need to tread a bit more gently than in the private equity industry. But he is confident that he can overcome any obstacles and said that he would bring about the best value for money. “I’ve always felt that one of the things I have been able to do in a business context is make lots of change.”

Given that Mr Parker intends to implement such change in the first 100 days, he might be expected to have a good grasp of his priorities. Not so, and he was coy about what the change might be. “I’ve got an awful lot to learn and I have no preconceived ideas” Mr Parker, who will be chairman of Transport for London, admits that he has employed a driver in the past to commute from his Hampshire home to London. He says that the journey was made unbearable by traffic and now he uses the Tube and Ken Livingstone’s bendy buses to get around the capital.

He will not take a salary and said he would not be “beholden to anybody”. “Nobody can turn around and say, ‘he’s here to feather his own nest’ because there’s no nest to feather.”

A narrative of the streamlining of ideas and responsibilities of TfL seems to be developing. Quite what that means for transport in London is as of yet unclear, but given that the Mayor has now taken effective control of Metronet from today, that places roughly 60% of the tube network under Mr Parker's control.

If efficiency savings are to be found then it is very likely that Mr Parker will do so. How that will reflect on Tubelines, the success story of PPP so far is, again, unclear.

If the 'Metronet lines' can be proven to run more efficiently, for less money and a lower propensity for strike action, how will Londoners and the all important Evening Standard begin to treat Tubelines? The likelihood is less-well. If Mr Parker enacts a 'slash-and-burn' approach to cost savings however then it is likely that Gordon Brown's surviving London PPP foray will be celebrated.

Against this backdrop of uncertainty it is clear that the Mayor's new First Deputy is stirring things up - supposedly what Mr Johnson hoped for when he handed over Mr Parker's £1 salary. Quite where the pieces will have settled when Mr Parker has cost London £2 still remains unclear.