Saturday, December 23, 2006

Wishing a Happy Christmas to all my Visitors

Including those people from the Mayor's office...

Thank you all for your diverse comments and opinions. Plenty more to come in the New Year...

Looking forward to 2007 and the selection of Conservative candidates for the Assembly and, of course, the Mayoralty.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Zone 1 Mayor

At the latest question time Conservative Andrew Pelling asked the following question:

Andrew Pelling: Please list your visits as Mayor to each London Borough since the last Mayoral election in 2004.

The Mayor replied with a long list which showed the following numbers of visits since May 2004:


Westminster 10
Tower Hamlets 8
Newham 5
Camden 5

Occasional Visits

Southwark 4
Hackney 3
Lambeth 3
Ealing 2
Enfield 2
Greenwich 2
Lewisham 2
Barnet 2
Haringey 2
Bromley 2

As Often as Havana

Brent 1
Croydon 1
Merton 1
Wandsworth 1
Kensington & Chelsea 1
Waltham Forest 1
Sutton 1

No Go Areas

Barking & Dagenham
Richmond Upon Thames

The Mayor needs to get out more in the New Year - he has a lot of ground to cover.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Muggles Can Walk

Watch out for the appearance of the politician's favourite station in the next Harry Potter film:

Geoff Pope: Why did London Underground consider it acceptable on Sunday 22 October 2006, to inconvenience thousands of passengers for reasons that do not relate to the maintenance or improvement of the Tube on a weekend when a number of sections of central London Tube lines were already closed?

Ken Livingstone: Although Westminster is a major station, it is relatively quiet on Sundays. There are many bus and Tube alternatives nearby, and all alternative routes were operating normally. This meant that relatively few passengers were inconvenienced. LU received very few complaints and there were no problems on the day.

LU looked at all options for filming. Given the close proximity of various alternative operating routes, and the potential safety issues around keeping the station open during such high profile filming, it was decided that the best option was to close the station.

High profile filming brings many benefits to London, as the Assembly itself points out in its recent report 'Film Friendly London'.

Let's hope that Harry Potter doesn't influence TfL more widely - London isn't ready for flying cars and triple decker buses.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Hug A Blogger - You Know You Want To

This week I discovered that I'm not the only Assembly Member with a blog. My Labour colleague John Biggs, Member for East London, provides his own take on life in London at .

Unlike my own efforts, he provides pictures and gives details of his constituency activities. He also provides unstinting praise for Livingstone and the Blair government, which should provide relief for some of the people we've seen around here in recent days....

So what a shame that despite publishing since May and putting in all that work, the Biggs Report only records 24 profile views and two (!) comments. If you have a spare moment then do drop by and let him know what you think. Your comments don't need to be lengthy - just two words, even one, would be welcome....

Friday, December 08, 2006

It's Row of the Week - Yet Again....

The Evening Standard Inside City Hall column features another spat I'm having with the Mayor:

Mayor Ken used his monthly report to the London Assembly to launch an unprecedented attack on one of its members. The normally anodyne document accused Tory transport spokesman Roger Evans of deliberately misinterpreting mayoral written answers on bus driver standards, extra traffic lights and taxi emissions. Accusing Evans of peddling "bizarre and ludicrous claims", Ken said the "pattern of misrepresentation should give the Assembly cause for concern".

Pot - Kettle - Black.

Just as well the holidays are approaching. The Mayor needs a break - a long one....

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More on the Buses

This response gives a picture of the scale of abuse of Livingstones concessionary bus passes:

Andrew Pelling: How many free bus passes have been withdrawn from both the under 18 and under 16 age group categories and what proportion does each reason given take up as part of the whole?

Ken Livingstone: To date, 2,033 concessionary travel passes have been withdrawn from under 16s:

546 'transferred' - used by someone other than the registered concession holder.
61 expired.
1,039 altered or mutilated.
6 for breach of the behaviour code.
381 for other reasons - including expired passes or where the photo clearly does not match the user.

Of 16 / 17 concessionary passes, four have been withdrawn to date: 2 'transferred' and 2 for other reasons.

It's not a glowing record and almost certainly under estimates the level of abuse because:

Police officers and PCSOs are not empowered to withdraw the cards.
Data protection law has hampered information sharing between the police and TfL.
There is no mechanism to prevent someone obtaining another pass if there own is withdrawn.

Also note that breaches of the behaviour code are also included in the other categories - there have been more than 6 of these.

'Free Travel' Costs Over £50m

The latest estimate for the cost of under 18 free travel is £55 million. Note how the Mayor shamelessly tries to spin this as a redistribution benefit.

Andrew Pelling: What is the latest lost revenue estimate for both the under 18 and under 16 free bus pass scheme?

Ken Livingstone: Free bus travel for the under 16s is estimated to have reduced bus fares revenue by around £35m pa.

Free bus travel for 16/17s in full time education is expected to reduce bus fares revenue by around £20m in a full year.

Put another way, the two schemes are delivering benefits to hard pressed families across London worth over £50m per annum.

These savings should make it less of a struggle for poorer families to fund the final two years of secondary education for their children; and, it is hoped, will encourage more children from poorer homes to stay on at school.

Following the introduction of the two free schemes, bus fares revenue in 2007 is expected to be in excess of £1billion.

Of course the high revenue probably has more to do with inflation busting fare increases over three years, than with giving away free tickets to some groups.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Venezuela & Democracy & Expenses

The Mayor's foreign policy continues to run up costs:

Angie Bray: Can you please provide full details of the cost of hosting the Venezuela and Democracy conference at City Hall on the 28th October?

Ken Livingstone: The cost of the event was £9,514.95:

Catering and catering staff £3,966.95
Interpreters and translation equipment £2,040.00
Audio visual staff £1,670.00
Security staff £1,400.00
Porterage and cleaners £438.00

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Livingstone - Friend of the Poor

Every month the Mayor publishes a list of the decisions he has made, and they usually involve spending money. There are some interesting recipients of his largesse, for example:

3 November 2006:


1. To enter into a contract with the CBI, in which the GLA will provide £30,500 in sponsorship for the Gala Dinner drinks reception at the 2006 CBI Conference and to waive the contracts code of practice for this purpose.

And if you thought taxpayers would be picking up the bill....

The estimated gross cost of this project is £30,500 and the net cost to the GLA is £6,000. The balance of £24,500 will be met by the LDA (£6,000), TfL (£6,000) and sponsorship income (£12,500). The GLA's net cost of £6,000 will be met from the 2006/07 Private Sector Programme budget.

Then you would be right.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mayor's Diary - Latin Edition

Some more details of the mysterious Cuba visit came out at Question Time:

Angie Bray: Please can you list your meetings in Havana / Venezuela?

Ken Livingstone: In Cuba I met with:

Lord Colin Moynihan, Chair of the British Olympic Authority.
Simon Clegg, Chief Executive of the British Olympic Authority.
Juan Contino Aslan, President of the Havana City Provincial Assembly of the Popular Power (Mayor of Havana City).
Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Minister Marta Lomas, Ministry of Investments and International Cooperation.
Jaime Crombet, Deputy President of the Assembly of the Popular Power.
Fernando Ramirez, Head of International Development, Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party.
Eusebio Leal, Historian of Havana and Member of the National Assembly of Popular Power.
Doctors of Operation Miracle, eyecare project restoring sight.
Doctors at the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Institute.
Relatives of the Cuban Heroes (the Miami Five) imprisoned in the USA.

I did not go to Venezuela.

Livingstone claims that he met the Cubans to discuss hosting a celebration of the Cuban Revolution in London. If that is the only reason, they must need even more senior figures to organise a party than New Labour does.

And what great titles! Let's hope he doesn't get any ideas...

Rename the GLA, the Greater London Provincial Assembly of the Extremely Popular Power.

Rename the Olympics Operation Miracle.

And who gets to be the Historian of London? (The Mayor's Office read this blog....)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ken's not the only one not going to Venezuela

A month ago Livingstone reported on his meeting with the Venezuelan Minister for Europe. A request had been made for London to provide 'observers' for the coming election. This claim was repeated several times - but the trip is now cancelled.

Sally Hamwee: According to newspaper reports (Morning Star 30/10/06) you made a promise at the 'Venezuela and democracy conference' held at City Hall on October 28th to send observers from your office to monitor Venezuela's coming presidential elections. Who will you be sending from your office and from which budget will the costs of their trip be met?

Ken Livingstone: I will not be sending a delegation to observe these elections.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hot Off The Press - December's Londoner

Headlines include:

Latest poll says people back the Mayor's new powers to build more lower priced homes for the capital (front page)

Oyster pay-as-you-go Tube fares frozen at 2006 rates next year

London Councils in grant U-turn

Dramatic firework displays will light up the skies over London as we welcome in 2007

Everyone has the right to religious expression (Mayor's column)

New Olympic schemes will give a head-start to London's unemployed

Rail link boost for East London

Don't miss out: It's not too late to register to vote

Jewish festival celebrated

New driving force behind London's taxi service

'Muslim women do have the right to wear the veil' (Talking Point)

Recycling around the Christmas tree

This special Christmas issue was supported by loyal advertisers including TfL (pg4), Recycle for London (pg6), TfL (pg16) and TfL (pg20). Also available on request in Braille, large print, audio tape, Hindi, Bengali, Arabic, Greek, Vietnamese, Turkish, Chinese, Urdu, Gujarati and Punjabi.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Big Question

To abolish the GLA or not.

I'm taking part in a lively discussion over at Conservative Home about the strategy we should adopt for the elections in 2008.

Dr Lee Rotherham is making the running for the abolitionists and I understand that Simon Fawthrop is also offering himself on a similar platform - if they win they will scale the Mayor's office down as far as possible, in preparation for a government Bill to abolish this tier of government altogether.

Other candidates are saying that we should keep the Mayor and Assembly, and use them to introduce high quality Conservative governance (I think - the problem is that they aren't saying very much at all at the moment). The arguments on each side seem to be:

For Abolition: It worked in the eighties; A new approach to mobilise 'anti politician' voters; A demonstration of our commitment to cut bureaucracy.

Against Abolition: Inconsistent with our message of change; No discernible public demand for it; Giving up before we've started.

I'm in the 'Against' camp but of course I have an interest to declare. I'm genuinely interested in what you think and feel we should have this debate sooner rather than later - so don't be shy of commenting.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Livingstone's Ambassadors

Yesterday the Mayor slipped out a statement about his plan to open an office in Caracas. This will be the third of his 'embassies', with the GLA already having a presence in Europe and China. The European office recently published a glossy leaflet to highlight their achievements, which include:

Won places for London's experts on European Commission working groups that shape EU policy.

Amended the European Employment Guidelines to benefit London's labour market.

Organised events and study visits to inform transport policy makers across the EU of the functioning and success of London's congestion charge.

Won support from 15 larger EU cities for the Mayor of London's statement on a common asylum policy for the EU.

The council taxpayers will be pleased...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The South American Fiasco

Last week the Assembly demanded costs of the failed South American visit. The figures are revealed in a detailed response today:

Cuba - The Mayor and five officers:

Flights: £11,086
Accommodation: £1,530
Meals: £132
Transport: £195.30
Telecoms / Business services: £202.80

Caracas - four officers (but not the Mayor)

Flights: £12,948.13
Accommodation: £3,469.20
Translation: £75.50

The Labour members of the Assembly also asked for details of the Mayor's achievements on the trip. This information was provided at MQT on 15th November.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Lib Dem's Economic Spokesman is Economic with the Facts

Someone in Twickenham reads their Lib Dem focus. They were surprised to learn of a new appointment for Geoff Pope, a Lib Dem Assembly Member. I decided to check focus 'facts' with the Mayor:

Roger Evans: A recent publication by the Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesman, Vince Cable MP stated that Geoff Pope 'sits on the board of Transport for London'. Can you confirm when this appointment was made?

Ken Livingstone: Geoff Pope is not, and has never been, a member of the TfL Board.

Let's hope Vince is more careful with his figures than he is with his facts....

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Empire Grows

In response to a question from Bob Blackman, the Mayor predicts the timetable for an expansion of power.

Bob Blackman: When do you expect the new Mayoral powers will come into operation?

Ken Livingstone: Those powers not requiring legislation have already come into force - the Mayor has assumed the London Housing Board's responsibilities from GOL and recruitment to the London Skills and Employment Board is currently taking place.

Those powers requiring legislation will be included in either the GLA Bill or, in the case of skills, the Further Education Bill, with one exception - the provision whereby the Mayor will appoint the Chair of the MPA is included in the Police and Justice Bill, which is currently going through Parliament. Depending on the timing of Royal assent to these bills, it is envisaged that these new powers will come into force in either October 2007 or April 2008.

Note the new job opportunities being created in London's growing government.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

PQT Alert

People's Question Time this month is on 21 November at 7pm in Bromley Civic Centre. This is the six monthly Q & A session that the Mayor is obliged to face, by statute. Anyone can come along and I do hope that the citizens of South East London will make the effort to let Livingstone know how they feel.

You may obtain tickets from:

or phoning 020 7983 4762

or online at

or by texting PQT followed by your name, address, full postcode and the number of tickets you require to 62967.

Last time we visited Hackney and witnessed a lefty love in, with a hall packed full of Livingstone supporters. I even got booed for suggesting people should pay for their train tickets....

So let's get a good crowd along to Bromley and make it a night to remember.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Icing on the Cake

News of further Olympic costs:

Dee Doocey: Will there be an Olympic fine art programme?

Well, why bother to ask...

Ken Livingstone: LOCOG's Culture, Ceremonies & Education team, led by Bill Morris, is currently engaged in a far reaching scoping project to determine the exact nature and extent of the Cultural Olympiad. This work is being done with the GLA and other stakeholders to ensure we have an agreed programme. No final decisions have been taken on the exact content of the programme at this stage.

A quango with a long name, an old lefty name check, no mention of costs - it must be Ken's GLA. Although today's news that the VAT bill will be over £1 billion might introduce a touch of realism.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

We Are Londoners

And we know it - which didn't stop Livingstone running an advertising campaign to remind us...

Sally Hamwee: How many (a) bus stops and (b) poster board sites in London have displayed 'We Are Londoners' campaign material? Please list the sites used and the criteria for their selection.

Ken Livingstone: The 'We Are Londoners' campaign appeared on 735 TfL owned bus stops and a total of 285 poster sites across London. In terms of posters the campaign consisted of outdoor, underground and overground posters. The poster sites bought by the GLA were standard advertising packages secured on the basis of availability. A complete list of the addresses of the paid for sites is available on request.

Friday, November 03, 2006

El Presidente's Diary

Livingstone's list of meetings during October has a South American theme. These are just a few of the events drawn from his latest monthly report:

UN Global Cities for Equal Opportunities conference - 6 October
Dinner with James Murdoch, Chief Executive of BSkyB and others - 10 October
Bridget Prentice MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs - 11 October
Unveiling of UCATT statue - 11 October
Yvette Cooper, Minister of State for Housing & Planning and the Thames Gateway Group - 12 October
John Reid, Home Secretary, Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Sport & Tourism,Sir Ian Blair, Commissioner of the Met Police - 16 October
Kevin Spacey, Artistic Director of the Old Vic Theatre - 16 October
Conference of UK Money Transmitter Association - 17 October
Dinner with Kenneth Clarke MP - 17 October
Rodrigo Chaves, Venezuelan Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs - 18 October
Forum of Mayors at 10 Downing Street - 19 October
Mayor Daley of Chicago - 19 October
SERTUC - 19 October
Baroness Andrews, Minister at the Department for Communities & Local Govt, David Lammy, Minister for Culture - 24 October
Mayor Delanoe of Paris - 25 October
Venezuela & Democracy conference - 28 October
Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for Transport - 30 October
Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham - 31 October
Meeting with delegation of Venezuelan MPs - 31 October
Keith Norman, General Secretary of ASLEF - 31 October

The Mayor is devoting a lot of time to one country....

Thursday, November 02, 2006

How Much Will it Make?

The latest predictions for the Western Extension of Congestion Charge.

Sally Hamwee: What are your most up to date estimates for the income that will be generated by the Western Extension of the Congestion Charge in its first and subsequent years of operation?

Ken Livingstone: In the 'proposed western extension of the congestion charging scheme report to the Mayor September 2005' a prediction was made for additional revenue of between £49 million to £66 million. This estimate did not include the newly introduced Pay the Next Day service which reduces income somewhat.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Flag for London

Some members are known for asking unusual questions. This one from Labour member Murad Qureshi must have caused some head scratching in the Mayor's office:

Murad Qureshi: With your campaign to encourage a civic identity of being a Londoner, is it not time for a London flag similar to that which you see in Devon and Cornwall?

Ken Livingstone: There is a flag with the London logo on it, which the GLA uses when it requires a generic flag. We have no plans to develop an official flag for London.

Well, that's a relief. How about a national anthem? Our own currency perhaps? Border controls, which Livingstone could fail to enforce? Members shouldn't encourage the Mayor's ego like this...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Job Opportunity - Election Monitoring in Venezuela

An intriguing reply from the Mayor:

Bob Neill: Please provide details of the meeting you held with Rodrigo Chaves, Venezuelan Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs on 18th September.

Ken Livingstone: On 18 September 2006 I met with Mr Rodrigo Chaves, the Venezuelan Deputy Minister for Europe who was accompanied by Ambassador Toro-Hardy. In the meeting Mr Chaves passed on an invitation to me from President Chavez to visit Venezuela.

We also agreed that the discussions between our offices regarding the co-operation agreement would continue and that he would report back to the President that these discussions were progressing.

Finally Mr Chaves explained that they would like to invite a number of people to the Presidential elections in Venezuela in December to act as independent observers to ensure the process is seen to be free and fair. He asked if I could recommend a number of people who might be suitable to perform such a function which I agreed to do.

Probably a good idea to get those application forms in early and avoid the rush.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Livingstone at Odds With Government Again

This time it's over the recent comments about Islam:

Bob Blackman: What is your reaction to the announcement by the Communities Secretary that Islamic centres that promote isolationism should be closed?

Ken Livingstone: I believe (hope) you are misquoting the Minister. 'Isoationism' is a vague and undefined concept. Action should be taken against any institution of any faith which breaks the law.

And having a Secretary of State for Communities is a pretty vague and undefined concept too. Let's hope we change some of these Orwellian department titles when we get back into government, hopefully before we have MiniTruth (Alastair Campbell) and MiniLuv (John Reid) foisted on us.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

It's Hard to make a Profit.....

.... running a cafe in Trafalgar Square:

Bob Blackman: Given that the cafe Rred@Trafalgar Square has declared itself insolvent, what changes are proposed to allow the new company to operate at a profit?

Ken Livingstone: We are currently procuring a cafe operator to manage the cafe for 12 months. During this period we will develop proposals for the delivery of a sustainable and economically viable cafe service on the square.

Perhaps there was insufficient passing trade....

Friday, October 27, 2006

Row of the Week

I feature in today's 'Row of the Week' in the Evening Standard Inside City Hall column - to be precise:

Motorists have rarely regarded Mayor Ken as their friend and more bad news is on the way. TfL is planning to introduce another 1,719 sets of traffic lights on London's roads, in addition to the 5,827 already there. As the Tories revealed recently, this is already 1,000 more than when Ken was elected in 2000. Evans, the party's transport spokesman on the Assembly, said: "Over the past six years, Ken has treated London like a giant lego set, raining havoc at will and charging people for the pleasure. He promised to get London moving but the statistics say otherwise." Ken says the roads are becoming more pedestrian friendly - and can point to a 45 per cent fall in casualties in the past decade as evidence.

Although it is interesting to note that according to those same figures, one of the safest places is the London Borough of Barnet, where the Conservative council has been ripping out the road humps and bus lanes - much to the Mayor's consternation.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

And the Gold Medal for Avoiding Elections goes to...

Here's the answer to a question that Martin over at Mayorwatch suggested:

Roger Evans: You will no doubt be aware that the 2012 Mayoral and Assembly elections will be held in very close proximity to the start of the Olympic Games. Do you think that sticking to this timetable is the right course of action?

Ken Livingstone: I do not think this timetable is ideal and my preference would be for the London elections to be postponed until 2013.

So at the next election in 2008 we could be electing a Mayor for a term of five years - use your vote wisely.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

When the Left Fall Out

Livingstone and Phillips are old foes. At Question Time in October Elizabeth Howlett provided an opportunity for Livingstone to put the boot in:

Elizabeth Howlett: Why does the Mayor feel that the Commission for Equality and Human Rights will be unable to ensure that all groups are protected? Is it a failure of legislation or staffing?

Ken Livingstone: I have been consistant, through the legislative framework, in my views on how the CEHR can best serve London's equalities agenda and develop arrangements that best fit the unique London equalities landscape. Specifically I would wish to see a separate statutory race committee and other strand specific committees to address the broad areas of discrimination while maintaining expertise, focus and remedies for each equality strand. There has been little to convince me that this type of framework is being put in place.

Closure of the CRE is, in my view, a mistake. Recent comments by Trevor Phillips, the new chair and only permanent appointment in the CEHR so far, regarding the veil, education and more broadly multiculturalism are a disgrace and will, I believe set equalities back years. Trevor Phillips has used the CRE as a platform to discredit multiculturalism and alienate black communities and has had limited impact in effective enforcement of race relations legislation during his time as chair of the CRE.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Alternative Carnival

On the same day as the successful Notting Hill Carnival, Livingstone held his own Caribbean Showcase in Hyde Park. Guess who paid the bill:

Damian Hockney: Could the Mayor detail how the Caribbean Showcase on Bank Holiday Monday in Hyde Park was financed. How much did the GLA contribute? How much did it cost altogether? Who contributed the rest?

Ken Livingstone: The Showcase was financed by the GLA and through sponsorship.

Altogether the Caribbean Showcase cost £308,000. The net cost to the core GLA was £68,000. The LDA contributed £120,000 and Creative London contributed £95,000 as outlined in DA 1654. The remaining income was raised through sponsorship (£15,000) and stalls (£10,000) from the following organisations: Western Union, London Fire Brigade, Transport for London, GV Media Group (publishers of the Voice newspaper) and the Colourful Network.

The majority of the organisations listed above are, of course, publicly funded....

Friday, October 20, 2006

Consultancy Opportunity at TfL

Bob Kiley, formerly the Commissioner for Transport, has struck a particularly good deal with the Mayor. Hopefully his negotiating skills will continue to be available to TfL.

Peter Hulme Cross: Can the Mayor confirm how many days Bob Kiley has worked under his consultancy agreement and how many of those days were spent in the UK?

Ken Livingstone: As part of the negotiation of arrangements with Mr Kiley, agreement was reached to ensure that the Chair of TfL and his nominee continue to have Mr Kiley's skills, knowledge and experience available on key issues.

This year Mr Kiley is contracted to provide the maximum of 90 days service on a non-exclusive basis. Under the contract there is no requirement for the services to be provided in the UK. However, to date, all the services provided by Mr Kiley have been provided in the UK.

The Chair of TfL, the Commissioner and the Commissioner's office have been in regular contact with Mr Kiley since the commencement of the consultancy both for the supply of information and the provision of advice. There are regular scheduled meetings between the Commissioner, Mr Kiley and other senior officers. Mr Kiley also attends at TfL's offices when necessary. A consolidated list of these dates is not kept.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Question Time Alert

Today Livingstone faces his monthly question time with the Assembly. The session has been delayed until 11:00am as he is meeting Gordon Brown first, so we can expect a statement on their agreement. But can Gordon expect support for his leadership from a man who once called for him to be sacked?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Love in Continues

More on Livingstone's Venezuelan adventure as Andrew Pelling raises the awkward human rights question:

Andrew Pelling: What understanding do you have with the Venezuelan government that transfer of technologies for genetic fingerprinting will not be used for abuse of human rights in Venezuela?

Ken Livingstone: There is no evidence that fingerprinting technology has been used to abuse human rights in Venezuela. I have no reason to believe that the government would use the technology to do so in future.

Fingerprint scanning machines have been used in Venezuelan elections since 2004. These elections have been observed by international bodies including the Carter Centre and the OAS (Organisation of American States) and deemed free and fair.

I am sure you will join me in condemning the real threat to democracy and human rights in Venezuela which comes from those who supported the unsuccessful military coup against President Chavez in April 2002.

If the technology is so good, perhaps it should be brought in for some East London boroughs at election time - and we can draw our own conclusions from the final paragraph....

Sunday, October 15, 2006

TfL Publicity Budget

My colleague Andrew Pelling obtained this response when he asked about the TfL publicity spending for 2005-6. There are some unusual items included in the broad budget:

Andre Pelling: Please provide a comprehensive breakdown of the £78m expenditure on advertising and communications in 2005-06, showing individual overspends / underspends from both the original 2005-06 budget and the revised budget. Please detail the amounts spent on each type of advertising and each campaign during the year.

Ken Livingstone: Below is an overview of how this budget was allocated:

£40m on advertising, customer information and customer research. The advertising includes safer travel at night activities, road safety campaigns targeting motorcycle riders and vulnerable teenagers, Oyster and additional TfL investments to reassure Londoners after the terror attacks on 7/7.

£10m cleaning and maintaining London's bus shelters.

£13m on equality and inclusion, annual reports, stakeholder consultation and communications and customer magazines.

The £78m also includes around £15m on activities that are not traditionally associated with advertising, marketing and communications. This includes expenditure on direct communications such as phone rental, call charges and purchase.

The amount spent on different types of advertising is 32% TV, 10% radio, 25% outdoor, 14% press and 19% cinema.

Major advertising campaigns during 2005-06 include: Congestion Charging (£2.9m), cycling (£1.16m), London Buses (£2.5m), London Underground (£1.3m) and road safety (£3.4m).

Additional investments were made in response to specific events in 2005-06 that were not anticipated when the base budget was developed. These were:

7/7 - greatly increased costs including additional posters on all modes and the 'Everyone's London' campaign associated with 2 for 1 deals for those using public transport to get to events and attractions.

Additional advertising on the national rail network to explain to customers that Oyster Pay as You Go is not valid following on from the train operating companies' failure to accept TfL's offer of financing Oystercard validators.

Additional marketing on London's buses to combat anti-social behaviour.

Additional support for the London Safety Camera Partnership focused on reducing the number of young people speeding.

Increased publicity to inform those who drive into the capital that the daily congestion charge has increased from £5 to £8 a day.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Mayor's Diary for September

It's been another packed month for Mr Livingstone. Amongst the many engagements were:

London Caracas: Caracas Londres festival on 1 September
Liberty festival on 2 September
Launch of Future London on 7 September
GLA reception at TUC conference on 11 September
Meeting with Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on 15 September
Launch of the Older People's Strategy on 18 September
Meeting with Rodrigo Chaves, Venezuelan Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs on 18 September
Screening of 'An Inconvenient Truth' at the Curzon Cinema on 19 September
Awayday for London Labour MPs on 21 September - we look forward to the 'going away day'.
Labour Party conference in Manchester on 25-27 September
India Calling 2006 conference on 2 October
Hay In London Festival Ethical Food debate on 3 October

Thursday, October 12, 2006

November's Londoner

The latest edition of The Londoner, Livingstone's propaganda sheet, has hit the streets. For anyone too busy to read it, the headlines include:

Crime Rate Cut in the Capital by Local police Teams (front page)

Cash Fare Rises Mean Oyster is London's Cheapest Ticket

Million Pound C-Charge Debt Makes US Diplomats Britain's Worst Payers

Free Travel will Help Young Londoners Fulfil their Potential

Modern designed buses and flexible shifts mean there's never been a better time to be a female bus driver

Thousands to attend climate change event in the capital

Crime still falling in London as confidence in the Met grows

Should people pay more to drive 'Chelsea tractors' ?

Larger zone will cut congestion and mean less pollution and fewer accidents (Centre page spread)

Don't rush to flush if it's just a pee (Advert - yes really)

Make room for cyclists (Another advert)

Tomorrow's post will come from the real world...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Road Tolls Could be Introduced by Stealth

The TfL Toll Provisions Bill is ostensibly intended to enable tolling on the new Thames Gateway Bridge, but this response shows that it could be used for much more:

Angie Bray: What future schemes will this proposed bill enable TfL to enact?

Ken Livingstone: The powers proposed by the Bill could be used for any project where TfL has made a toll order under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991. The only current toll order is for the Thames Gateway Bridge.

Colleagues in Parliament should bear this in mind when they debate Livingstone's legislation...

Monday, October 09, 2006

South American Soulmates

Interesting to see that London isn't the only city with a mouthy mayor:

Angie Bray: You are holding a London Caracas: Caracas Londres event on 1 September. Do you agree with the comments made by the Mayor of Caracas that the middle classes are "rotten and putrid"? And do you support his expropriation of private property?

Ken Livingstone: The London Caracas: Caracas Londres event on 1 September was successful with over 15,000 people attending.

The governance of the City of Caracas is a matter for the elected Mayor of Caracas.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Our Friends in The South

There was another City Hall sponsored conference in February. Here Lib Dem Mike Tuffrey unearths the details:

Mike Tuffrey: Could you give the details of the topics discussed and progress made at the 'European conference of solidarity with the people of Latin America and the Caribbean' in City Hall on the 24th and 25th of February? Could you also inform me who hosted the event and the sort of organisations and individuals who attended?

(As if we couldn't guess)

Ken Livingstone: The event was organised by a number of trade unions and the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, and I agreed to provide City Hall as the venue. The event was attended by 260 delegates from 20 countries, mostly from trade unions across Europe. Amongst the issues discussed were: solidarity with Cuba, the experiences of Latin American counterparts and the EU's approach to the American blockade of Cuba.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Consultancy Opportunities in London Government

My colleague Andrew Pelling uncovers the cost of consultants:

Andrew Pelling: What was the expenditure on professional and consultancy fees by each GLA functional body and the GLA in the last financial year?

Ken Livingstone: Expenditure on professional and consultancy fees are as follows:

Metropolitan Police Authority £344K
London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority £3,427K
Transport for London £160,500K
London Development Agency £47,119K
Greater London Authority £5,231K

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Why Bother With ID Cards When....

Richard Barnes: When a sample is taken from a suspect and then it is found that they are not involved in any criminality, do the MPS automatically remove the information from their database?

Ken Livingstone: DNA samples are taken from persons who are in detention following arrest for a recordable offence, under section 62 and section 63 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. Once taken, all DNA results remain on a database.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Mayors Questions for October

The deadline is Friday this week. Please let me have any suggestions before then - and remember that I decide what to ask....

Aldgate Far-East?

Just to be fair, I must include this leading question from my Labour colleague, John Biggs. Remember, you heard the proposal here first...

John Biggs: Would you support renaming Aldgate East Station as Brick Lane?

Ken Livingstone: There are many difficulties associated with changing the name of an underground station. In particular, all maps across the underground network would need to be altered and other maps, for example for tourists, would be rendered out of date which could cause specific problems.

However, if there is widespread demand for this change, LU would look into the issue in more detail.

Could anyone who supports this proposal let me know please....

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Conference Alert

I'm off to Bournemouth today so not sure if I will be able to post anything until I return on Wednesday. Last week New Labour were fully in control of their conference (except for Cherie's outbursts) so we need to be disciplined this week.

London events include a joint reception with the ALG tonight and, of course, the Boles Routemaster which will be visiting for a couple of days. I will be keeping an eye out for other mayoral candidates.

For once there is no visit from Livingstone. I'm sure we'll miss him.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Hold on Tight Please

One year ago, an Assembly report highlighted the rise in complaints against bus drivers from approx 10,000 to 40,000 over a period of four years. TfL promised action but last year the numbers continued to spiral:

Roger Evans: How many complaints specifically regarding the bus driver have TfL received since 2005?

Ken Livingstone: During the financial year 2005/06, TfL received 53,353 complaints specifically regarding the bus driver. Since April 2006, the figure is 15,414. During the financial year 2005/06, 1.1816 billion passenger journeys were made on buses.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Maybe it's Because he's a Londoner

I'm often asked about the cost of Livingstone's propaganda sheet, The Londoner. Here's the answer:

Roger Evans: What is the current annual cost of The Londoner?

Ken Livingstone: The 2006/07 Londoner budget totals £2.8 million. The cost is equivalent to 10p per copy per household.

So that's £1.20 per year, per household of course, and the Mayor thinks it is good value.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Golden Buses Part 2

A question about bus subsidy from the September session:

Roger Evans: What percentage of the overall cost of running London's buses does the fare income provide?

Ken Livingstone: In 2005/06, fares income (including reimbursement for concessionary travel) covered approximately 62% of the cost of the London bus network.

But Ken, surely reimbursement for concessionary travel is part of the subsidy, after all, it is recovered from the public authorities involved, and hence from council tax or public grant....

In 1999 the, admittedly less attractive, bus service was breaking even on fares. We don't want to go back to that, but there must be a less costly alternative.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Golden Buses

Livingstone is very proud of his buses and it is true that the service has improved, but at a cost....

Roger Evans: What is the current level of public subsidy provided to London Buses?

Ken Livingstone: In 2004/05 - the most recent year for which fully validated data is available - the bus network required a subsidy of £550 million.

Easily the most heavily subsidised bus network in the country.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A 'Virtually Instantaneous Response' to Anti Social Behaviour

In September last year when Livingstone launched his free travel for Under 16s policy, he promised to withdraw the passes of the minority of youngsters who misbehaved on the buses, promising a virtually instantaneous response to anti social behaviour. An expensive advertising campaign warned that vandalism, drinking or smoking would result in individuals losing their concessionary pass. A year on, (MQT September 2006) I decided to check on progress:

Roger Evans: How many free travel concessions have been withdrawn specifically for anti social behaviour, or breach of the behaviour code, since the introduction of the policy?

Ken Livingstone: Four (!!!!) free passes have been withdrawn due to anti social behaviour. Since the scheme started in September 2005 some 1644 free travel concessions have been withdrawn mainly for misuse of the concession.

Misuse of the concession refers to use of cards by those not entitled to them. Vandalism, drinking and smoking are included in the anti social behaviour category - an impressive one card withdrawn every twelve weeks!

Two possible explanations - (a) there is virtually no anti social behaviour by people under 16 on the buses, as suggested by the Mayor, or (b) the much trumpeted deterrent is unenforceable in its advertised form.

Police officers are now advised that they do not have the power to withdraw travel cards from suspects. Clearly this response to anti social behaviour was more virtual than instantaneous.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Red Ken = Red Lights

Time to dust off the old campaign slogan as our mayor reveals that 1,000 new traffic lights have been commissioned since he came to power in May 2000. I wonder why the traffic is slowing down.... Yesterday's Evening Standard takes up the story:

The rise in the number of traffic lights was uncovered by the conservative group on the London Assembly.

Roger Evans, the group's transport spokesman, said wthe figures would be no surprise to disgruntled motorists who were a "long term target" of the Mayor.

"They provide further evidence that the administration's policies are slowing down traffic and making motorists' lives a misery." claimed Mr Evans.

"The explosion in these extra traffic management measures is making a significant contribution to the ever increasing gridlock that is plaguing our roads."

"It is no good introducing stringent measures such as congestion charging if at the same time you add nearly 1,000 new traffic lights for motorists to negotiate."

Mr Evans added: "The Mayor is not playing a fair game and seems more interested in pursuing a vendetta against motorists, rather than genuinely trying to keep traffic moving."

A great idea from our Mayor - let's create congestion, then we can tax it!

Monday, September 18, 2006

A Fine State of Affairs

Ever wondered why TFL made congestion charge so complicated to understand and difficult to pay? If nobody was fined, it would make far less money - of course.

Angie Bray: What percentage of the annual revenue is formed by penalty charge payments?

Ken Livingstone: This is detailed in the Fourth Annual Monitoring Report. For the last financial year, these accounted for about 30% of the annual revenues from the scheme.

That's right - a third of the income from congestion charge relies on people who don't pay - and then get caught.

Mayor and Labour Party Out of Step Over Nuclear Energy

A recent debate initiated by the Lib Dems led the Labour and Conservative groups to unite to support an open minded approach to the energy review. The Greens and Livingstone are not happy....

Darren Johnson: What did you say to the Labour group after they voted for a Conservatve amendment that said further nuclear power should not be ruled out of the Government's energy review, thus wrecking the opportunity for the majority of the Assembly to join with you in taking a clear pro renewables, anti nuclear stance?

Ken Livingstone: In my view there is a progressive majority in London and all of those who make up that majority should work to make it as effective as possible, whilst accepting that we will sometimes disagree. On this issue the Assembly, by voting for a Tory motion that said that nuclear power should not be ruled out of the energy review, is out of step with progressive sentiment in London.

I have made it clear that my view on this matter is the commissioning of a new generation of nuclear power stations would be an expensive mistake that we should not impose on future generations. I will be working with others who share my view to ensure that the case against nuclear is made as clearly and effectively as possible.

The position of the Greater London Authority as a whole is not affected by the Assembly's vote.

The position adopted by the Assembly, as proposed by the Conservative group, brought out the sharp contradiction between David Cameron's rhetoric on the environment and the record of Conservatives in London.

I have said to the Labour group that I believe the position adopted by the Assembly should be corrected at the earliest opportunity.

So that's told them, and we await the U-turn. Meanwhile, expect further divisions between Livingstone and his supporters.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

TV Alert

BBC Politics Show at 12:00 today - I am making a live appearance to discuss fare rises and the Chavez 'oil for CCTV and fingerprinting' deal. There will be commentators from other parties but not sure who they are at this stage.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Forms Squad - You're Ticked

It appears that the Met Police are taking paperwork seriously - they've got a 'forms squad', and what's more, it's an award winner....

Some revealing numbers in this response to my colleague Richard Barnes:

Richard Barnes: How many forms have been created by the MPS since the establishment of the MPS anti-bureaucracy task force?

Ken Livingstone: There are approximately 2,300 MPS forms in existence. The MPS forms unit states that 326 new forms have been created since September 2004. Pioneering work by the MPS forms unit has ensured that some of the most widely used electronic forms 'self populate' with the author's personal details. This process saves the MPS approximately £350,000 a year and has just won first prize in this year's National Reducing Bureaucracy Awards Scheme. The forms unit has a rolling programme to ensure that whenever possible, forms are available only via their intranet site, to be downloaded on demand. This reduces printing, ordering and storage costs. It also ensures that only the most up to date form is used. As a result, most of the available forms have been converted.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Superpope to the Rescue

As we wait for the approved record of yesterday's question time to be made available, one incident which was referred to has already received wider publicity in the Evening Standard Diary. It concerns my opposite number, Lib Dem member Geoff Pope. It appears that, over the weekend the mild mannered transport committee chair and former Mayor of Richmond Upon Thames transforms into a caped crusader fighting crime on the buses. Who said the Lib Dems were all mouth and trousers? The Standard explains:

returning from Hornsey at the weekend, he encountered a full scale fight on the top deck of a W7 bus outside Hornsey Town Hall in Crouch End. Two teenage girls were hanging over the stairwell panel, having a punch up. A third girl leapt into the fray. Pope shouted to keep calm but was forced to delve into the fight and prise their locked arms apart. It eventually took four passengers to break the girls up. The end result wasn't pretty: clumps of hair strewn across the floor, one girl had a cut face and the other had a huge bump on the head the size of a golf ball. "I have never witnessed such anger in a woman's eye like that before." said Pope.

Wish I could say the same....

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mayor's Question Time

Today Livingstone answers questions from members of the London assembly. Most of the responses are in written form, provided outside the meeting. No doubt there will be some nuggets which will feature here in coming days.

Meanwhile, I am inviting suggestions for questions in advance of the October question session. Please leave ideas here and I will consider them for the future. Of course my own decision about what to ask is final....

Friday, September 08, 2006

Less Congestion Equals Lower Traffic Speeds

At the July Question Time Angie Bray asked Livingstone to give a definition for the phrase continuing adjustments to capacity, which appears in his annual report on the congestion charge. His reply shows why fewer vehicles are not travelling any faster and why congestion is actually created as a matter of public policy - then of course blamed on the number cars and selfish drivers, the only road users who are not a 'priority':

Ken Livingstone: Ongoing changes to the traffic-moving characteristics of the road system include:

Widespread use of traffic control and road safety related measures on major and minor roads, having impacts on traffic levels and speeds;

Measures to assist pedestrians and cyclists at junctions;

Bus priority measures and increased bus activity and patronage;

Increased frequency of street works, particularly associated with increased activity by utilities and high technology communications.

Most of these interventions have been valuable and beneficial, either directly to selected users of the road network or more generally.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mayor's Diary Summer 2006

The Mayor's report also lists his meetings over July and August. Amongst the long list, the following stand out:

July 5th, met with Phillip Anschutz and David Campbell
July 6th, addressed the Islam Expo
July 10th, climbed Nelson's Column
July 10th, met representatives of Al Jazeera
July 12th, met the Chief of Staff to the Venezuelan Minister for Energy
August 30th, attended a dinner with the Chinese Ambassador

Monday, September 04, 2006

Nuclear Free Zones - It's the GLC Again

Another extract from the Mayor's report for August. This will look familiar to anyone who experienced the old GLC. Leopards don't change their spots....

Mayors for Peace

On 3 July, I met with the Mayor of Hiroshima, Dr Tadatoshi Akiba, who is the President of Mayors for Peace, as part of a European visit by an international delegation of Mayors. London is one of the 1,300 cities that are members of Mayors for Peace. The aim of this organisation is to lobby for a nuclear weapon free world by 2020.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

It's Crackers of Caracas...

With the Mayor's monthly report now published, it's time to read about how our leader spent his summer holidays. On 1st of September he was hosting a party in Trafalgar Square (yet again). The accompanying statement from Livingstone is characteristically long winded and repetitive:

London Caracas - Caracas Londres

A free concert will take place in Trafalgar Square, which is being organised in conjunction with the Venezuelan capital Caracas to highlight the growing links between the two cities and with Latin America more widely. The concert - London Caracas - Caracas Londres - takes place on 1st September with bands from Latin American countries lined up to perform.

London's growing Latin American community makes an important economic, social and cultural contribution to the city. Latin American and Caribbean music and dance have a global cultural influence impact and this will be an opportunity for Londoners to strengthen cultural links with Latin America. The concert will give a flavour of some of the contemporary music coming out of Latin America. It is part of an ongoing cultural exchange programme that will see UK bands playing at a similar event in Caracas next year, underlining the friendship between our two great cities.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Congestion Down, but Traffic no Faster

It's official - you can reduce congestion without speeding journeys up, honest. Livingstone reveals the Holy Grail in this reply to Conservative leader Angie Bray:

Angie Bray: In section 1.2 (of the congestion charge annual report), it is stated that one of your key transport priorities is "to improve journey reliability for car users". Given that the average speed in the zone is now only 10mph, and that the report admits that the small gains made have been as a result of reduced queuing times, "rather than increases in driving speeds", is this priority being met?

Ken Livingstone: Congestion in urban areas is mainly in the form of queues at junctions. It is this that mainly determines journey time reliability, rather than actual driving speeds per se. Therefore, TfL's congestion charging targets precisely that element of delay that contributes most to unreliable journeys.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Spot the Bendy Part 2

Bus routes 25 and 86 run on similar routes in East London. Which uses articulated vehicles? (answer in the final paragraph of TfL's response).

Roger Evans: What was the level of fare evasion and ridership on the routes 25 and 86 since June 2005? What is the estimated level of revenue loss?

Ken Livingstone: There were approximately 20,300,000 passenger journeys made on route 25 during the financial year 2005/06 and approximately 10,200,000 made on route 86 during this same period. The revenue loss is as follows:

Route 25
Surveyed fare evasion rate 7%
Estimated revenue loss £62K - £73K

Route 86
Surveyed fare evasion rate 2.3%
Estimated revenue loss £10K - £12K

(estimated revenue loss calculated by: passengers per month x average fare paid x average % detected irregularity)

Articulated buses were introduced on route 25 in order to accommodate greatly increased demand. If TfL had introduced a greater number of smaller buses the cost of the service would have been more than the loss in revenue caused by higher fare evasion on articulated buses.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Minimum Wage for Birds

Here's another example of unusual GLA spending, uncovered by my colleague Bob Neill. At least the involvement of Westminster Council has saved on the hourly rate.

Bob Neill: Is spending £46,280 on providing a hawk to fly in Trafalgar Square really a priority use of taxpayers' money?

Ken Livingstone: Pigeon infestation was identified as a major problem for Trafalgar Square, representing a potential health issue as well as a major deterrent to visitors. It also has serious implications in terms of the damage to the historic fabric of the site.

The flying of a hawk was introduced as part of an overall strategy that has significantly reduced pigeon numbers on the Square. This strategy also included a controlled feeding programme, public education and proactive action by the Heritage Wardens. The hawk has proved to be a successful part of this package of measures.

The reduction of the number of pigeons on the Square has greatly improved the local environment. The result has been to make the square morehygienicc for everyone, to improve the space for the events that are held throughout the year - and to reduce the cost required to clean the listed architecture and street furniture in the square.

Pigeon reduction is just a small part of the large programme undertaken by the Squares management team to ensure the smooth running of Trafalgar and Parliament Squares.

By retendering the contract incollaborationn with Westminster Council, the cost for the hawk has gone down from an average of £50 to £38.75 per hour.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Spot the Bendy

Routes 53 and 453 travel similar routes, but one of them uses articulated vehicles with multiple points of entry. No prizes for guessing which one (answer in the final paragraph).

Roger Evans: What was the level of fare evasion and ridership on routes 53 and 453 since June 2005? What is the estimated level of revenue loss?

Ken Livingstone: There were approximately 10,700,000 passenger journeys made on route 53 during the financial year 2005/06 and approximately 10,500,000 made on route 453 during this same period. The revenue loss is as follows:

Route 53
Surveyed fare evasion 2.3%
Estimated revenue loss £11K - £13K

Route 453
Surveyed fare evasion 6.8%
Estimated revenue loss £31K - £37K

(estimate reached by: passengers per month x average fare paid x average % irregularity)

Route 453 was introduced in order to relieve crowding on route 53 in a cost effective way, hence the use of articulated buses, which can carry more passengers than any other bus. If TfL had enhanced the frequency of route 53 instead, the additional cost of the smaller buses would have been more than the revenue loss caused by higher fare evasion on the articulated buses.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Now Bikes are a Security Risk

Here's an interesting question from Green member Jenny Jones. Usually Livingstone would take this opportunity to quash a bizarre rumour, but no such clarity in this case....

Jenny Jones: Can you squash the unattributable rumour that bikes will be banned from the Olympic site as a security risk?

Ken Livingstone: The ODA and LOCOG will consider use of cycles within the Olympic Park from a user safety perspective, and from a security viewpoint. No decisions on this have yet been made.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Remove Those Bus Lanes at Your Peril....

This response to a question from the Liberal chairman of the transport committee shows how Livingstone threatens boroughs that disagree with him. The implication is clear - if they suspend two bus lanes on their own roads TFL will withdraw their funding for other projects. The phrasing of the question also tells us something about the Liberal attitude to local democracy. Expect to see more conflict with more boroughs falling out of Labour control....

Geoff Pope: Following the decision by Ealing's new Tory council to suspend bus lanes in Yeading and Northolt, will you object to the proposal using your powers under section 291 of the GLA Act 1999 on the grounds that it affects GLA roads, and if necessary proceed to a public inquiry?

Ken Livingstone: Peter Hendy has already written to the leader of Ealing council urging them to take a different course of action and making clear that this will impact on future funding decisions. TfL expects Ealing to formally notify them of any proposal to remove the bus lanes in question.

TfL has offered to meet with officers of Ealing urgently to resolve this issue. If it cannot be satisfactorily resolve I will consider all options available to me.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Fare Evasion

August is a quiet month at City Hall, so here's an opportunity to look at some of the responses from mayor's question time in July. We've been trying to establish the level of fare evasion on TFL's articulated buses - with three doors the temptation not to pay is clearly too much for some passengers (note that average fare evasion across the whole bus network is 0.92%):

Roger Evans: What was the level of fare evasion on bendy buses during the months of June and July 2006? What is the estimated level of revenue loss?

Ken Livingstone: Total detected fare evasion on bendy bus routes for June 2006 was averaged at 1.42%. This gives an estimated revenue loss of approx £80,000. This is calculated from the estimated total number of journeys made on articulated bus routes during this period (10,870,000) and assuming each passenger paid an average of 0.52p.

July figures are not yet available.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

City Hall Blog Open for Business

Welcome to the City Hall blog. This will feature some of the more interesting and revealing information from London's devolved government. Every month City Hall publishes hundreds of replies from Mayor's question time, scrutiny findings and press releases and sorting the nuggets from the deluge of material is challenging - so I'm off on my search.