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City Hall "business lounges" were an extravagant waste

A whole year after Caroline Pidgeon criticised the GLA's wasteful spending on two "business lounges" in City Hall, the Mayor has decided after all to remove them.

Caroline told the Evening Standard: "Spending £25,000 on setting up and furnishing business lounges that are then removed some 12 months later is an extravagance that London council taxpayers can ill afford."

Future of businesses around London Bridge must be assured

The need for real assurances about the future facing the independent businesses that operate under the arches of London Bridge was the number one message that came out of a key meeting held today (Monday 27th June) between local businesses, Network Rail and politicians.

At the meeting Network Rail met with representatives of local businesses including Team London Bridge, Arch 897, Platform SE1 bar and restaurant, Southwark Playhouse and Arch Climbing Wall, as well as planning officers from Southwark Council and local Riverside Councillor Anood Al-Samerai, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Southwark Council. The meeting was hosted at City Hall by Caroline Pidgeon AM, leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group and Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee.

Time for the Mayor and TfL to work to improve industrial relations

Commenting on the finding of the Employment Tribunal that RMT Union member Arwyn Thomas had been unfairly dismissed from his job as a Tube driver, Caroline Pidgeon Leader of the Liberal Democrat Assembly Group, said:

"London Underground have previously said that if the tribunal cleared Mr Thomas he would be re-instated. I hope that LU bosses will acknowledge the Tribunal's findings and that the RMT will also call off the further strike action they have planned so London can go about its normal business."

8 million passengers overcharged on Oyster - every month

Following on from extensive work by Caroline Pidgeon on Oyster overcharging, London Travelwatch have now looked at the issue and discovered that 8 million passengers are overcharged every month.

The Evening Standard covers the story here, and discussed the situation with Caroline:

Mayor has no idea of cable car costs to the public

The BBC reports on Boris Johnson's inability to confirm how much the Greenwich to Newham cable car will cost the taxpayer, when pressed by Caroline Pidgeon at June's Mayor's Question Time session.

Responding to Caroline's question, the Mayor was vague:

When pressed by Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon, who asked him to guarantee that all the money would be recouped from the private sector, Mr Johnson said that private funds "may well cover the total cost over time.

But he added: "Whether it will cover every penny of the set up costs I can't guarantee.

The cost "may very well be zero to the public sector, but I can't tell you what it will be yet", he told the assembly.

You can read the report - and video coverage - here on the BBC website.

Since that time, construction has begun on the cable car, but - as Mayorwatch reports - there is still no guarantee it will be ready for the 2012 Games.

As of September 2011, the costs of the cable car have now risen to £60m - and TfL is taking over part of the rail budget to pay for it. Read more here at Londonist, the News Shopper, Liberal Democrat Voice and on the BBC website.

Passengers losing too many hours down the Tube

Speaking to the London Assembly Transport Committee, the Managing Director of the London Underground has publicly acknowledged that problems on the Tube over the past year have resulted in an increase in lost customer hours on almost every line.

Chair of the Transport Committee, Caroline Pidgeon AM, said:

We recognise the challenges London Underground is facing as it works to deliver an extensive upgrade programme while carrying more and more passengers, but the past year has seen an unreliable service for passengers who are exceptionally frustrated by their daily commute.

While we heard today that if you go back several years things are generally improving, the recent performance of the Tube has undoubtedly deteriorated and is not good enough.

With major upgrade work about to start on the Northern line we hope lessons have been learned so that passengers who use it will not have to deal with the levels of disruption seen on the Jubilee and Victoria line upgrades.

Conservative Assembly Members sabotage key Blackfriars cycle safety debate

Over the last few weeks thousands of cyclists have expressed concerns about the Mayor's and Transport for London's plans for Blackfriars Bridge.

The initial plans put forward by Transport for London were severely criticised for ignoring cyclists and after an extensive campaign which Caroline fully supported, the design plans were improved.

However the Mayor and Transport for London are still determined to end the temporary 20 mph speed limit on this dangerous bridge, and instead seem wish to introduce a new speed limit of 30 mph on this vital river crossing for cyclists.

London Assembly Members were set to have a formal debate about the safety of cyclists on the bridge at a recent Plenary meeting of the London Assembly. The outcome of the debate and vote taken by London Assembly Members would have played a key role in influencing both Transport for London and the Mayor of London.

However the Conservative Assembly Members, instead of debating the issue, collectively walked out of the chamber of City Hall before the motion could be debated. Their actions directly prevented any debate taking place.

Greenwich Council lets down pedestrians and cyclists with yet more delays

The full reopening of Greenwich foot tunnel has been delayed once again, with users facing night time closures and no lifts throughout the Summer until September. At the same time work on the Woolwich foot tunnel, which has been completely closed since last year, is not set to be finished until August.

Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, discovered this information buried away on Greenwich Council’s website. The explanation for the six-month delay to the Greenwich foot tunnel is put down on the website to “additional works and problems with materials used in the repairs.” At present, no information at all has been provided by Greenwich Council about why the works at Woolwich foot tunnel are so far behind schedule.

No grounds for complacency over transport crime

Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, commenting on the Mayor welcoming the latest crime figures for London’s transport network, said:

“The Mayor should not be complacent with these latest figures. Across the whole of London’s transport network there has been no uniform fall in crime – indeed in some areas levels have increased, and in some cases by a significant degree.

Mayor continues to mislead on bus crime figures

The Mayorwatch website reports on Boris Johnson's misleading claims in his election literature that bus crime has fallen by 30% across London during his term in office. In fact, the detailed statistics show that the local picture is patchy, with bus crime actually increasing in many areas.

Caroline told Mayorwatch:

Just three months ago the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority warned Boris Johnson that the way he was using the bus crime data could ‘be damaging to public trust in the statistics’.

Sadly the Mayor has totally ignored this warning and is up to his old tricks of using misleading figures. It is simply wrong to suggest that bus crime is falling across the whole of London, when in fact in more than one third of boroughs it is increasing – and in some boroughs significantly.

Even where there has been some fall in the figures there should be no grounds for complacency about the level of crime on London’s buses. Bus crime is a problem everywhere, and in far too many places it is a growing problem.

You can read the full article here.

You can also read local coverage in the Barking and Dagenham Post, in the East London Advertiser (Tower Hamlers), the Wimbledon Guardian and at the Wimbledon SW19 website.

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