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Ealing and Northfield Ex-Mayor Livingstone Tram

Local Labour sees the light, Mayor still not listening

Ealing Times quotes local Labour politicians on their somewhat belated realisation that the Tram might have done for them.

It seems the light has dawned on the likes of ex-leader Thomson and ex-finance portfolio holder Beecroft that ignoring people and trying to foist the West London Tram on them is not a good way of getting elected. The next person who needs to start listening is the Mayor unless he wants to get booted out too in May 2008 just in time so that he can spend lots of time watching the London Olympics.

There is no sign of Ken listening though. He is sailing along with the West London Tram and has just published what is called Supplementary Planning Guidance for consultation (follow link for tedious document). Among other things, this document effectively says:

  • Borough planning policies should seek to help make the Tram successful
  • Boroughs should refuse planning permission for developments likely to prejudice the development of the Tram
  • Boroughs should aid the Tram by supporting a Transport and Works Order Application.

The most Canutian paragraph of this document, paragraph 3.6, is really quite funny:

“As tram schemes, both Cross River Tram and West London Tram projects will be taken forward through an application for powers under the Transport and Works Act (1992) (TWA), and where appropriate the relevant London boroughs should show their support by being prepared to co-promote any such Transport and Works Order Application. The TWA process will help to safeguard and provide for compulsory acquisition of the land required for construction. Appropriate support for the scheme within borough planning documents, including SPG, will be a material consideration at the TWA Inquiry.”

In other words the Mayor is asking for help from the three West London Tram boroughs when two have previously stated their opposition and one will formally change its position on May 18th. The logic of this paragraph is that the three boroughs should look to scupper the Tram by ensuring that their planning frameworks specifically exclude the Tram and make no concession to it whatsoever.

The real issue is why does Ken Livingstone want to proceed with the Tram and initiate the Transport and Works Order process that will lead to a very expensive public inquiry. Could it be that he wants to use the public inquiry, currently scheduled for Spring 2007, as a platform for electioneering for re-election in May 2008? The public inquiry will be futile and extremely expensive. We are talking about £10s of millions. We know Ken likes spending our money like water and he will not baulk at hiring the best barristers he can. This will force objectors, all of us, to spend similarly. The inquiry will become a pre-election political jamboree paid for by us.