The Mayor of London Boris Johnson was a winner from yesterday's CSR announcement. Crossrail and the tube upgrades will go ahead, concessionary bus fares for veterans and job seekers will continue.
Scrapping the Congestion Charge Extension will be a big vote winner for Boris in my borough.
In respoonse to the Chancellor's announcement, Boris says:
I believe that in spite of the very tough measures we have heard from the Chancellor it is absolutely clear that our points have been understood and agreed by the Treasury and we will be able by 2012 to defy the sceptics and deliver 50,000 affordable homes – a record for one mayoral term.
It is thanks to the 16 per cent savings we have already made in the police and productivity gains such as allowing single officer patrols that I am increasingly optimistic that we will be able to maintain frontline policing and transport policing and continue to drive down crime. Already in the face of the worst recession for 30 years bus crime is down 30 per cent and overall crime down 7 per cent.
In the run up to the CSR people said we would never save Crossrail which I heard one friend and cabinet colleague describe as a giant trench across London and we have saved Crossrail every arm and leg of it from Maidenhead to Shenfield from Heathrow to the City not forgetting Abbeywood!
It will be a fantastic new line for London that will cut journey times and relieve pressure on the central line adding ten per cent to the capacity of the network. People told me that I would have to choose between Crossrail and the Tube upgrades because you couldn’t have both. Frankly anyone who used the network on Monday or Tuesday can see the madness of that argument and that is why I am pleased that we also have the Tube upgrades new track, new signalling, new air conditioned trains a programme of investment that will add 30 per cent to London’s rail capacity. It is indispensable for the future growth of the UK.
Then people in the Treasury and the DFT said: "OKmaybe there is a case for Crossrail and the Tube but you can’t continue to run buses with lower fares than the rest of the country and you can’t have all these concessions for older people and younger people and veterans and jobseekers because no one else in Britain gets them." I said: "No, you’re forgetting that London is more expensive than anywhere else in Britain and that London is the motor of the economy and that you cannot leave London’s workers standing at the bus stop."
That argument was accepted. We are able to protect our bus network mileage all concessions and I can today announce that fares will rise in London by no more than the level announced in the business plan and yes, there has been pain, and we have had to make more savings We have rephrased Crossrail so as to dig the tunnel before the stations which will mean a year’s delay but has the great advantage that we can evacuate the spoil through the tunnel rather than using thousands of lorries.
We have trimmed but not lost our electric vehicle charging point programme but I would point out that the cuts we have been forced to take in our transport budgets amount to 2 per cent of spending on capital and investment and that thanks to the savings we have made we will be able to move ahead on Dec 24 to deliver on my pledge to Londoners to have an account based system for the congestion charge and to abolish the WEZ to continue with the expansion of our cycling schemes including all the cycle superhighways and with Crossrail, the Tube upgrades, a world class bus service and every penny of the 9.3 billion Olympic investments.
I believe we have the won the government commitment to London’s infrastructure that the people of London need and be in doubt that I understand that the fight is not over and I will continue to stick up for this city and above all for the poorest and the neediest but the best way to secure the growth that will deliver the tax revenue to pay for those in need is to secure and increase investment in our infrastructure to make a safer cleaner and more liveable London and that is what we have achieved today thanks to all who have been involved.