Lots of interesting comments from the Mayor of London Boris Johnson's People's Question Time in Harrow.
On keeping the Olympics in budget he said:
The answer is £9.3 billion is what it is going to cost and over my dead body are we spending any more.
On tall buildings – where some supporters have been worried he has been going soft on his earlier opposition- he gave an encouraging message.
When I look at something now in our Planning Committee I want to have a very, very good reason why it has to go above eight storeys. That seems to me to be pretty high; I have to know why it has to go above eight or ten storeys. We have too many 23, 27 storey buildings pepper-potted around London in a way that I think is extremely ugly and does great damage to the skyline. The only circumstances in which I will accept the construction of a tall building is if the local people, if the local councillors, really want it and if there is a strong local case to get to Columbus Tower, if it is already in a zone of existing very, very tall buildings. There was one building in Canary Wharf that I thought could go ahead and did, but otherwise I fully share your hostility.
The following exchange on bus design also caught my attention:
QUESTIONER: Over 50 years ago, I wrote a letter to The Times regretting the demise of the London Trolley Bus. These were very comfortable, very silent, had swift acceleration, regenerative braking and with a six wheel configuration, they had a bigger capacity than a London bus. I wonder if any consideration has been given to reintroducing these, particularly bearing in mind that by 2025 there is supposed to be a 60% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in London?
BORIS JOHNSON: to the gentleman who nostalgically thinks about the trolley buses, and who wrote to The Times 50 years ago to call for the restitution of the trolley bus, your hour is at hand, my friend. We are not going to bring back the trolley bus, because if you remember, that was succeeded by the Routemaster. The Routemaster was this fantastic variant that you did not need overhead gantries, or whatever the phrase is, in order to go round corners, the Routemaster was a fantastically more versatile vehicle. So we are going to be reintroducing to the streets of London a lighter, cleaner, greener vehicle that will have all the low carbon advantages of the trolley bus. Indeed, I think, this year we are already introducing six hydrogen buses, but from 2012, every new bus in London will be either a hybrid bus or a low carbon bus of one kind or another. It is our intention, thereby, to reduce hugely the emissions from the London bus fleet and to bring back the clean air that you associate with the trolley bus, if not the electric doo-dahs that used to run overhead. I think nowadays they are superfluous to our technological requirements.