Newslinks | 29th June 2007

The NewsEditor

Union threat over ticket offices "A union has warned of industrial action in protest at plans to close London Underground (LU) ticket offices. The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said it will campaign with passengers to keep them open, warning that 240 jobs are under threat."

Row continues over £1bn Tube bill

"Tube maintenance firm Metronet has sent London Underground (LU) a bill for more than £1bn for extra improvement work on the network.

"Metronet is investing £17bn over the next 30 years under a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme. But it estimates there will be a £1.2bn overspend after seven-and-a-half years.

"The private consortium claims LU should foot the bill, but LU said the overspend was due to Metronet's inefficiencies and so it should pay." [from BBC News Online]

Mayor launches Kingston's new Safer Transport Team

"By the end of July, all 378 Police Community Support Officers will be working to make transport safer in twenty-one outer London boroughs. The introduction of these Safer Transport Teams sends out a clear message that crime and anti-social behaviour on and around public transport is not acceptable." [from]

Freedom Pass Dispute Should Be Settled By London Politicians - editorial from Mayor Watch reprinted in full below:

Freedom Pass Dispute Should Be Settled By London Politicians The row over the cost and funding of London’s Freedom Pass continues this week with a war of words between London Councils and Mayor Ken Livingstone.

London’s local authorities have previously demanded what they call a “fairer method” of deciding the scheme’s costs.

In a press release issued last month their umbrella body argued:

“TfL are the only transport operator in the country with the power to simply impose a price if no agreement can be reached. This means that all our negotiations with them are carried out with the threat that unless we agree a price TfL could pluck any figure they like from the air. This cannot be right.”

Instead of London’s directly elected Mayor having the final say the body wants the unaccountable Secretary of State for Transport to have the final say over a London-specific matter.

It seems bizarre for a body claiming to exist to promote “pan-London working” and work “with others to maintain London as a world class city” to seek to undermine and dilute the powers of London’s citywide Mayor and transport authority.

After all the bluster and complaints are put to one side what’s at stake is the ability of disabled and older Londoners to travel in their own city. Whether the funding comes from fare revenue or the Council Tax is largely irrelevant, Londoners are entitled to expect their representatives to resolve the matter without involving Parliament and Ministers.