People of Ealing 'You are Wrong'
Ken says Paris trip will provide more backing for tram
Ken Livingstone told assembled journalists at his press conference this week that a forthcoming trip to France would provide him with more ammunition in his attempted to force through his West London Tram scheme.
He said, "It is my intention to go to Paris in December to see the opening of the tram so I can come back and say to the people of Ealing that they are wrong and the tram can be a wonderful thing."
He offered to take Conservative Greater London Assembly representative, Richard Barnes along with him in an effort to persuade him to change his mind.
The Mayor will be attending the inauguration of the first modern tram line to be built in the centre of Paris. His opponents argue that, like many other successful tram schemes, it is irrelevant to West London because it will be taking over existing train tracks and there will be no resulting road closures. The wide boulevards of Paris will still allow two lanes of traffic each way around the tram tracks.
The comment seems to be a tacit admission by the Mayor that public opinion is decisively against the tram in the Ealing area despite claims that surveys that showed overwhelming opposition were 'unscientific'. He had previously said that if public opinion was against the tram then he would not proceed but now appears determined to plough ahead. He accused opponents of the tram of misleading the public and suggesting that the scheme would 'lead to people dying and the return of the plague.'
Insiders within the transport industry believe that public opposition combined with the massive cost of the scheme, which would be the most expensive tram project ever undertaken in the UK, means that the public enquiry into the scheme would result in a very unfavourable outcome making it unlikely that funding would be made available to continue with the plan.
All the Councils along the route are opposed to the scheme. Prior to the May election only Ealing supported the plan but afterwards a unanimous, all-party decision was made to withdraw support.
November 15, 2006