The Mayor is going on about Freedom Passes again, see today’s press release, where he is misquoting me for at least the third time now. Guess I will have to get used to it.
The Mayor uses the Freedom Pass issue to pose as the voters friend whilst holding the boroughs to ransom to pay for it all. The notes in his own press release make it all quite clear:
Under the existing ‘reserve scheme’, if the London boroughs have not reached agreement with Transport for London by 31 December before the next financial year then the statutory reserve scheme comes into effect at a cost determined by Transport for London, effectively ensuring that the concession cannot be watered down or under-funded.
Or to put it another way: effectively ensuring that TfL can charge what it likes for the scheme and the boroughs just have to pay up.
TfL can hold the boroughs to ransom and yet it can:
- allow bus costs to rise 8.2% in one year
- waste £78 million on advertising
- spend £22K on two job ads in the Economist
- employ a staggering 821 people who earn more than £50K of whom 76 people earn over £100K
- waste £27K on sponsoring an event and then pull out because of a personal argument between the Mayor and Trevor Phillips
So when the boroughs say abolish the reserve scheme they don’t mean take away Freedom Passes. They mean allow us to negotiate Freedom Passes with the overblown and wasteful TfL as equal negotiating partners without the Mayor holding a gun to our head. The boroughs have real responsibilities for the old and disabled. The Mayor is a poseur.