Tram's Future Hangs in the Balance
Conservative Council promises aggressive oppostion
The fate of the West London Transit System remains unclear after the shock victory of the Conservative Party in Ealing Borough. The previous Labour administration had been a co-sponsor of the £650 million scheme but it is widely believed that its support for the project cost it critical votes in the election on May 4th.
The Conservatives campaigned on an anti-tram platform and the new Leader of the Council, Jason Stacey, has promised aggressive opposition to the plan. The new administration plans to challenge Transport for London at every opportunity. They are considering court action over the original consultation on the project which they felt to be misleading. There are unconfirmed reports that a team of consultants who were working in Ealing on the project packed up once the election result was known.
Prior to the election Cllr. Stacey said, “Uxbridge Road is extremely narrow in places and the inevitable displacement of traffic will actually increase congestion not lessen it. Many thousands of residents in nearby roads will suffer from noise, pollution and congestion as a result of rat-runners, not to mention the disruption caused in the building process. TfL's assessment of the wider social and economic benefits amounts to £20M per year. Yet this is simply not enough to justify a £650M scheme which will require support from the taxpayer of £48M per year for 25 years.”
Ken Livingstone is insisting that the project will go ahead and points to David Cameron's recent statement in support of tram systems as evidence that the Conservatives may change their policy. The Mayor is intending to press ahead with the extension of the Congestion Charge Zone in the face of opposition from Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council so it would not be unprecedented for a project to be implemented against the wishes of the local authority.
The Council's new position is expected to be ratified at the open Council meeting on Thursday May 18.
May 12, 2006