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Mayor must answer questions over cycle hire scheme

Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, commenting on today’s announcement that London's cycle hire scheme will expand into west and south-west London over the next two years, said:

“Everyone wants to see the cycle hire scheme expanded. The scheme’s expansion is obviously great news for the areas of London that will now be covered, but the Mayor should have today told Londoners which other areas will get the cycle hire scheme as it is expanded in future years.

“The Mayor also needs to answer a key question - why has the sponsorship arrangement with Barclays has been so casually extended for a further three years, instead of being put out to a competitive tender when the five year contract expires in 2015?

Extraordinary that Met officers accepted News Of The World hospitality

In a Metropolitan Police Authority meeting yesterday, Paul Stephenson admitted that - as revealed by Liberal Democrats through Freedom of Information enquiries - senior members of the Met accepted lunches and dinners from News International executives, including the former executive editor of the paper, who is under arrest on suspicion of phone hacking.

Caroline Pidgeon told ITV's London Tonight:

It seems extraordinary to me that senior members of the Met would have lunches and dinners with newspapers.

They give their reasons why it is "reasonable" - I don't think it is, and I don't think it looks it to the public.

You can see ITV's video report here - and also read the BBC's coverage here.

Tube managers must be respectful in sensitive situations

Responding to the shocking news that a suicide victim's body was left in a Tube station cupboard and discovered by shocked staff, Caroline Pidgeon said:
"For London Underground to claim that its standard procedures have been followed in this horrific incident simply highlights that its procedures are totally inadequate.

"Combining respect for a dead body with keeping LU operating must be a tough challenge on some occasions but it can and must be done."

Caroline will be raising concerns about London Underground's handling of the tragedy with the Mayor.

TfL begins work to reduce Oyster overcharging

Following Caroline Pidgeon and the London Assembly Liberal Democrats' sustained campaigning on the issue of passengers being overcharged on their Oyster cards for "incomplete" journeys, Transport for London have now formally recognised the issue and begun work to improve the situation.

In response to a Freedom Of Information request from the London Assembly Lib Dems, TfL stated:

We recognise that more can be done and are working to further improve Oyster and the service provided to customers, including improved journey history information and work on a technological solution which we hope to introduce later this year to tackle the issue of incomplete journeys.

Read TfL's full response here.

Speaking on this issue, Caroline Pidgeon told the London24 website:

The current level of overcharging is totally unacceptable. There is something very seriously wrong when each and every week of the year Londoners are ripped off by more than £1 million.
It is vital that TfL and the Mayor find a solution to stop so many passengers being ripped off.

You can read London24's coverage here.

£18m cost of buses during tube and rail closures

The Evening Standard reports that Transport for London has spend £18 million over the last year in providing replacement buses during Tube, DLR and Overground closures due to engineering work.

Caroline Pidgeon told the Evening Standard:

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.

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