Roger Evans, Tory GLA Assembly Member and transport spokesman, has found out through a question to the Mayor the final bill for the abortive West London Tram. £34.8 million apparently. A lot of cash for nothing, a nothing that nobody wanted.
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.
Yesterday during Mayor’s Question Time the Mayor effectively announced the death of the West London Tram.
To see the exchange between Angie Bray, Conservative AM for West Central and PPC for the Ealing Central and Acton constituency, and the Mayor follow this link and move the slider to 2:34:35.
In answering a question the Mayor slipped into announcement mode and came out with:
If we get a decision from Ealing for some bus priority measures and we get the announcement as we are expecting in most probably September on Crossrail we will put the West London Tram on hold to see the impact of both bus priority measures and eventual opening of Crossrail and you come back to revisit the decision in the middle of the next decade.
People like me have been saying all along that we would be more sympathetic to the tram if we believed that the bus improvement option had been taken as far as it can be along the Uxbridge Road. Anyone driving down the Uxbridge and seeing delivery vans and people stopped with their hazards flashing knows that with some simple management measures this road could be vastly improved.
For one thing you have to be cynical about it not being a red route. I guess making it a red route would have undermined the case for the tram so the Uxbridge Road has been allowed to fail as a bus route by TfL to make the tram viable. Now the tram is dead we might see the Uxbridge Road working.
Last night 250 local people gathered at the Hobbayne Centre to hear Christopher Dean, TfL’s project manager for the tram project, explain the details of their proposal to turn the current one-way sections of Boston and Lower Boston Road in Hanwell back to two-way. Only Christopher Dean was apparently ordered by his boss not to turn up so he pulled out yesterday afternoon. The faceless TfL man, no doubt one of the 76 TfL employees who earns more than £100K a year, cited the fact that the meeting had been “hijacked” by council leader Jason Stacey and that the press had been invited. Didums.
TfL need to know the following information about this meeting:
- 250 local people turned up
- the only “outsiders” present were the council leader, leader of the opposition, Gazette journalist Steve Still, local councillors Costello (Hobbayne), Clements-Elliott (Elthorne) and Taylor (Northfield). Maybe Cllr Elliott (Northolt West End) was an outsider, true, but perhaps we can forgive him for keeping his wife company
- the meeting focussed entirely on this road scheme, not on the generalities of the tram
- the only person who tried to generalise it was a pro-tram parent governor from the local school who confirmed that the school had not been consulted
- when a show of hands was asked for on this proposal it was unanimously rejected by those present.
The consultation document for this proposal is shockingly bad, see picture below.
The document had a few pictures and less than 100 words to explain the scheme. It did not explain how the junction at the southern end of the scheme will work nor discuss the relative costs and benefits of the scheme. It contained no facts by which to judge the proposal beyond this pathetic assertion:
The tram would change traffic flows along its route. To enable traffic and trams to flow well along the Uxbridge Road through Hanwell, we believe the best solution would be to redesign the way these roads are used.
Christopher Dean has apparently offered to do one-to-one meetings with concerned residents. On the strength of last night’s meeting there are over 200 people who want to meet him. He should maybe block the month of May in his diary – he might just get round them all if he keeps at it.
My final thought is that this document is so bad and the last minute cancellation of Dean’s appearance at this meeting is such bad public relations I can only imagine that TfL want this scheme to be seen as a total non-starter. It will be interesting to see what they try to get away with using the argument that the Hanwell two-way scheme was unacceptable to residents.
Ealing Times is reporting today that the latest tally of spending on the West London Tram by the Mayor has reached £29.8 million despite all three boroughs on its route and local people being against.
They quote our local London Assembly Member, Richard Barnes who represents Ealing and Hillingdon, as saying:
“The sheer cost of this scheme is staggering and it’s now clear that because he has wasted so much money on the project the Mayor feels he cannot back out, despite the lack of support from West London. Livingstone should bite the bullet, cut his losses now and listen to local objections before any further money is squandered on a scheme West London doesn’t want.”
Quite right Richard.
Two of the largest characters in West London politics came together this morning to stand up to Mayor Ken Livingstone and his unpopular West London Tram scheme. Jason Stacey, leader of Ealing is photographed above with Councillor Stephen Greenhalgh, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham.
All three boroughs along the proposed route of the West London Tram are holding a summit this morning declaring war on the scheme. The councils, and most of the rest of us, fear that the tram – estimated to cost £1bn – will displace traffic onto residential streets, making life in West London a misery.
Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, said:
The tram is far too costly and the Uxbridge Road is far too narrow for this scheme to make any sense. Think about what could be achieved with £1bn: more police, better public services or a reduction is council tax: isn’t it a waste to throw all this money away on one white elephant transport scheme.
Residents, councillors and road users are all coming together to fight the Tram, we think its time that Ken Livingstone took notice.
Lots of people are signing up to Graham Weeks’ anti-tram petition at the No 10 website. Follow the link to take part. Graham got his picture in the Gazette this week. Well done.
As of the time of writing 443 people had signed up including council leader Jason Stacey, Tory PPC for Ealing Acton Angie Bray and Northfield councillor David Millican.
Graham’s petition reads:
“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stop any more money being wasted on the plan for a West London Tram.”
Today the Ealing Times is reporting that the Mayor has spent £1 million on tram consultations up until now. I can’t say that I am that surprised. Back in August the Ealing Times itself came up with a figure of £24.5 million when they asked the Mayor how much he had spent on the tram to date (follow link).
I was not surprised to see the Ealing Times making information requests back in August but I am quite surprised to see that this time is is Capital Radio. I never thought of them as being a “serious” news organisation.
In a leader tonight the Evening Standard summed it up nicely:
“In the context of what a scheme like the Thameslink expansion could achieve for commuters, the Mayor’s persistence with his pet scheme for a tram in west London looks increasingly inexplicable. The tram would displace traffic onto residential roads and a majority of those living locally object to the plan – following the election of three councils on a platform of opposition to the scheme. This is no way to go about improving public transport.”
You could say the same thing about Crossrail as well.
See Ealing Times coverage.
The Mayor said today at his press conference that the new tram survey had been published on the TfL website yesterday. Yes, but you really have to know where to find it.
- First of all click on the Trams tab at the top of the page
- Then click on the West London Tram Update link or graphic second item down
- Then click the Market research item off the menu on the left
- Then click the October 2006 link off the list.
Do you get the impression that these creeps don’t want you to read this report?
Here is the link.
At his press conference today the Mayor tried to pre-empt any questions by focusing on the headline 44% against to 40% for numbers and trying to confuse people with the margin for error of +/-3%. The detail, see below, totally destroys his argument which is essentially that people are only marginally against it after three years of his opponents making all of the running. If you want to hear the man himself follow the link and move the slider to 16 minutes 53 seconds into the conference.