Ex-Mayor Livingstone

Mayor’s press people go for cheap headline

The Mayor has just released a press release quoting my blog and using tiny little snippets in the hope that lazy journalists will pick up what he is saying without any research.

The Mayor says:

Cllr Phil Taylor, prominent Ealing Councillor and deputy chair of Ealing’s powerful Finance and Performance Committee, argued on his website that the Freedom Pass should be “re-targeted” away from most pensioners to the “very old”.

Apart from the fact that we don’t have such a committee in Ealing and I am in fact the deputy portfolio holder for Finance and Performance (an honorary title that allows me to carry the portfolio holder’s bag) the Mayor is right. As a ward councillor I meet many old people marooned in their homes unable to leave. Freedom Passes are no use to them, they can’t even get out of their front doors, let alone onto buses. It is very poor targeting of limited resources to spend £213 million on over a million people, many of whom really don’t need this concession. It would make much more sense for the boroughs to free some of this cash up to spend on the really old who are amongst the most disadvantaged in society.

The Mayor is not protecting the old and disabled he is protecting his power. It is easy for the Mayor to posture in this area but the boroughs have real responsibilities for the care of the old and disabled. The Mayor is essentially saying he knows best in spite of having no responsibility for care, unlike the boroughs. Freedom Passes may bolster TfL’s budget but they are not necessarily the best way to help these groups.

The Mayor says:

Cllr Taylor went on to question the benefits of encouraging more Londoners to use public transport, calling it “quite mad.”

The Mayor is being typically mendacious. I said:

The other thing the Mayor needs to accept that this scheme covers over one million people. It is not green Mr Mayor to give a million people free travel. In fact it is quite mad from an environmental point of view.

If the Mayor is going to enter into the green debate he needs to be consistent and free travel is stupid from a green point of view. Walking and cycling should be free obviously, public transport needs to be costly to deter travel, car travel needs to be more expensive and we need stupid taxes like the Mayor’s over-large and fast-increasing precept to go away.

The Mayor says:

He adds: “There are few people who are in work or on good pensions who would strongly argue that they should be the recipients of this largesse.” 43,000 Ealing residents are beneficiaries of the Freedom Pass.

Just to be clear I was trying to say that of those people who are entitled to Freedom Passes there are a large number who are in work or on good pensions who would accept that they should not be a priority for public spending compared to older pensioners without means.

I will leave Roger Evans to speak for himself.

To see the original piece follow this link.

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