Last night Ealing council leader Jason Stacey and the Mayor made a joint announcement about the West London Tram (see announcements here and here). It is dead – as we have known for two weeks (see previous posting).
It is clear from the careful words used by Ealing that there is no desire to rub the Mayor’s nose in it but it is certainly a climbdown on his part. Although the decision is notionally dependent on the go-ahead for Crossrail the Tram is still stone dead.
Gordon Brown has spent 10 years as chancellor not deciding to go ahead with Crossrail in spite of it being a total no-brainer. Now he is Prime Minister he can get the kudos for giving it the go-ahead so it is most likely to go ahead this autumn as part of a pre-election bundle of goodies.
Even if Crossrail does not get the go-ahead as expected it will not be killed off, no-one wants to say to Londoners that they have to struggle on with poor public transport infrastructure. Now that the Mayor has backed down it will be impossible to resurrect the Tram whilst Crossrail is still hanging around in the wings.
The story made the front page of the Mayor’s website but the spin his team put on it is pretty funny:
Mayor of London and the leader of Ealing Council agree new solution to traffic congestion as deal on Crossrail approaches
Ealing Council was a little more straigtforward:
Tram plans shelved
Jason Stacey deserves the highest praise for the way he made this an election issue in May 2006 and then worked effectively over the last 15 months to box the Mayor in so that his only choice is to give in gracefully. Now he has won this great battle he can afford to be magnanimous.