The Mayor is trying to use the Freedom Pass yet again to scare pensioners, bash councils and pretend he is the pensioners’ champion when in fact he is just trying to squeeze more money out of councils to cover the out of control costs of Transport for London, see his press release.
He is taking my name in vain again but that is really a small part of the story.
The Freedom Pass has a really frightening impact on council finances and they are right to fight to overturn the current legal situation that if London Councils and TfL cannot agree then the Mayor gets to impose a settlement, even though he can in no way be described as an honest broker. To get an idea of the financial impact look at Ealing’s own budget book. If you scroll down to page 23 you see will that the largest levy we pay is for concessionary fares, ie the Freedom Pass. This year Ealing bill will increase by £810K or 9.4% to reach £9.44 million. This is about the same amount of cash as we spend in Ealing on bin collections, street cleaning and recycling put together. This kind of rate of growth is simply not manageable and yet the councils don’t have the buying power they should command.
The real problem is TfL. They are a total shower. Recently they have:
- allowed bus costs to rise 8.2% in one year
- wasted £78 million on advertising
- spent £22K on two job ads in the Economist
- employed a staggering 821 people who earn more than £50K of whom 76 people earn over £100K
- wasted £27K on sponsoring an event and then pulled out because of a personal argument between the Mayor and Trevor Phillips.
The Mayor is responding to a press release yesterday from London Councils. Their position is well put in Daniel Moylan’s letter to the Mayor dated 31st May. Moylan is the chairman of the London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee.