Scrutinising the Mayor articles

Boris's island airport is dead in the water

Caroline Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Transport Spokesperson, commenting on the opposition from the world’s leading airlines to Boris Johnson’s plans for a Thames Estuary Airport, said:

“This must be the final nail in the coffin of Boris Johnson’s ridiculous proposals for an airport in the Thames Estuary.

“Boris Johnson has managed to create the most incredible coalition opposed to this airport stretching from David Cameron and the world's leading airlines right through to all the political parties in Kent and environmental groups such as the RSPB.

“It is time that he listened to the voices of all sensible people on this issue and just admitted once and for all that the Thames Estuary Airport is dead in the water.”

Oyster passengers overcharged £500,000 a month

In an article for the Lib Dem Voice website, Caroline Pidgeon describes how anomalies in the Oyster card system result in Londoners being overcharged by £500,000 a month when they travel on National Rail services:

This week at City Hall I was accused by Boris Johnson of being a “negative Liberal Democrat” when I dared to question him over some of the problems that have happened as a result of the extension of Oyster Pay as You Go to national rail services across London.

Well I stand by my questioning of the Mayor as there is no doubt that a huge number of Londoners are not getting the best deal that Oyster could deliver. There are serious anomalies in how the system operates, and the full benefits of the technology are simply not being delivered. Most significantly many people using Oyster on the trains, whether they are Londoners or visitors, are being overcharged, sometimes by quite large amounts. This January alone it is estimated that 32,000 passengers were overcharged a total of half a million pounds.

Read the full article here.

Every Londoner now owed £5 by embassies evading the Congestion Charge

Caroline Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly transport spokesperson, has revealed that each and every Londoner is now owed £5 by embassies that evade paying the Congestion Charge. For the first time ever the total unpaid bill for non-payment of Congestion Charge and Penalty Charge Notices now exceeds £40 million.

Through repeated questioning, Caroline Pidgeon has obtained figures from the Mayor showing that the amount owed by embassies soared during 2009 by more than 40%, with the unpaid bill rising by £1 million every month. At the very start of the 2010 the total unpaid bill from embassies stood at £39 million, compared to an unpaid bill of £26 million at the same time last year.

Commenting on these new figures, Caroline Pidgeon said:
"It is shameful that a minority of embassies continue to evade paying the Congestion Charge. British diplomats respect the law of other countries and it is only right that diplomats do the same in this country.

Time to get moving on Oxford Street congestion

Pedestrians on Oxford street are reduced to shuffling along overcrowded pavements, while hundreds of buses an hour inch forward at an average of 4mph, according to a new report from the London Assembly Transport Committee.

The report, ‘Streets ahead: Relieving congestion on Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street’, notes that despite its phenomenal popularity with shoppers, the area continues to be divided by a "slow-moving procession of buses and taxis". On average the area suffers an accident involving a bus every 3.4 days - and air quality in the area, already the worst in London, is on track to be the worst in the UK by 2015

At the heart of the problem is the conflict between the need to provide a pleasant shopping and leisure environment, and meeting the demand for transport links through the West End. And various schemes to reduce traffic congestion and improve the pedestrian experience in one of the world’s premier shopping destinations may not be enough, says the report, calling for more radical thinking.

Boris says No to Brentfield bus petitioners

Caroline Pidgeon AM has joined Liberal Democrat councillors in Brent in expressing deep disappointment at the news that Boris Johnson has refused to act to provide more buses in the Brentfield Road area.

A huge petition from local residents was submitted to the Mayor by Liberal Democrats at a formal Question Time session last month.

Brentfield Road runs between Brent Park Tesco and Harlesden Station and is also home to the prestigious Neasden Temple, but is currently served by only two buses, the 206 and the PR2.

Transport for London also admitted recently that the frequency of buses on the PR2 route had deteriorated significantly in recent months.

Nevertheless, Mayor Boris Johnson replied to the Liberal Democrat-organised petition with a letter concluding: “TfL consider that Brentfield Road is adequately served by these routes and there are no plans at present to provide further bus services here.”

Lib Dem assembly member Caroline Pidgeon, the Chair of the Assembly's Transport Committee, said:
"There is clearly a huge demand for a bus in the Brentfield Road area and it is very disappointing that the Mayor refuses to listen to local people."

London Assembly calls on Mayor to guarantee the future of London's buses

The London Assembly Transport Committee has launched a report, The Future Of London's Buses, setting out a number of questions to the Mayor about how he will guarantee the future of the capital’s world-class bus service despite large cuts to the bus subsidy.

The report captures a range of views expressed at a seminar hosted by the Committee to debate both the benefits of the bus service and how any changes to it would impact on Londoners.

Buses are by far the most popular mode of public transport in London, catering for nearly two billion journeys each year. However, despite a growing population, and for the first time in several decades, the bus network is not anticipated to expand at all between now and 2012. Over the next eight years, the bus subsidy will be cut by a third, from £700 million in 2008/09 to £450 million in 2017/18.

More delays on 24-hour Freedom Pass for National Rail

In response to a question from Caroline Pidgeon, the Mayor has admitted that Freedom Pass users will not have free travel at all times of day on National Rail services by his target of January 2010. In fact, he does not even expect TfL to begin negotiating this with the train companies until Easter 2010!

Caroline Pidgeon said:
"It is very disappointing that there is still no end in site for Freedom Pass holders to be able to travel on rail before 9.30am. The Mayor promised a 24 hour Freedom Pass. He has not used his considerable influence to date to negotiate hard with the train companies, working with London Councils. He now needs to deliver it so that pensioners across the capital can all enjoy equal travel benefits."

More details of the story are on the MayorWatch website.

Disabled people should not be second class citizens on Ilford buses

The Mayor of London will soon be hearing about access problems facing wheelchair users on Ilford buses following a recent visit to Ilford by Caroline Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Transport Spokesperson and Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee.

On Wednesday (16th December) Caroline took up an invitation from Councillor Shoaib Patel to visit Ilford and find out at first hand some of the specific problems facing wheelchair users in using local buses, with a detailed briefing provided to her by wheelchair user Max Reid.

The issues raised with Caroline Pidgeon and Councillor Patel included ramps frequently not working or being too steep and also the lack of space on some buses for wheelchair users. Caroline Pidgeon and Councillor Patel also heard about the unhelpful attitude of some drivers towards disabled bus passengers.

Following the visit Caroline Pidgeon has promised to raise all the issues raised in Ilford with Boris Johnson through a series of written questions at the next Mayor’s Question Time in January.

The Mayor just doesn't understand bus travel

The Mayor of London has rejected the proposal of a One Hour Bus Ticket despite recent unanimous support for the proposal from the London Assembly.

In response to a letter from Caroline Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly transport spokesperson and Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, the Mayor has stated that he has “no plans to introduce such a scheme”.

Assembly urges Mayor to chase embassies for unpaid congestion charge fees

The London Assembly today called on the Mayor to demand payment from embassies in the capital owing outstanding fees and fines for the congestion charge.

A motion agreed by the Assembly urged the Mayor to write to the Head of State for each country that is refusing to pay the congestion charge and invite Ambassadors to explain their reasons for the refusal. The motion calls for responses to be published on the Greater London Authority website.

Proposing the motion, Caroline Pidgeon AM said:
"The American and other embassies that dodge payment of the congestion charge are insulting their host city and denying a valuable source of income to Transport for London."

"The congestion charge is not a tax and the vast majority of embassies clearly recognise this. The minority that decide to not follow the rules of this country must now explain in writing how they can justify their actions."


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