|No Long-term Funding Deal on Horizon for TfL Says Mayor|
Warns that more services cuts could happen in the near future
There is “no sign yet” of TfL agreeing a long-term funding deal with the government, Sadiq Khan has said as he warns that service cuts could come “very, very soon”.
His comments came just before the Department for Transport submitted a new proposal for a financial settlement with TfL of which it says it is now studying the details. It is understood at this stage that the terms of the deal may prove difficult for TfL to accept.
Last week, TfL announced that a second short-term extension had been agreed to the £200 million bailout provided by the Government in February.
The deal had originally been set to expire at the end of June, but City Hall officials now have until 28 July to negotiate a long-term settlement with the Department for Transport.
Despite weeks of negotiations, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan told the Local Democracy Reporting Service on Monday that there was “no sign yet” of a long-term agreement being reached.
Mr Khan has been pushing for a face-to-face meeting with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in a bid to resolve the dispute, a meeting which the mayor says is yet to materialise.
He said: “Grant Shapps hasn’t responded to my numerous requests for a meeting. I understand he was at Chequers this weekend at Boris Johnson’s leaving party rather than meeting with me. I don’t understand how a government that wants a national recovery doesn’t understand the importance of a London recovery.
“Our officials are talking, but there is no sign yet of a long-term capital deal and no sign yet of the net revenue support we need this year.”
The Mayor of London went on to warn that Londoners could expect to see service cuts, including proposed cuts to bus services “very, very soon”.
TfL is currently undertaking a public consultation over plans to axe as many as 16 bus routes across the capital and making changes to 78 in total.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said the short-term extension was necessary due to the “unsatisfactory progress made by TfL on meeting agreed deadlines”, but that government is “committed to supporting London’s transport network” and is “in discussions with TfL on a longer-term settlement”.
He said, “This extraordinary support to TfL has always been on the condition that TfL reaches financial sustainability as soon as possible and with a target date of April 2023 and government continues to press the Mayor of London and TfL to take the decisions needed to put the organisation on a sustainable footing.”
Andy Byford, London's Transport Commissioner said, "We are grateful for the support we have received so far, and maintain we have met every condition that has been set by Government as we have worked towards agreeing a multi-year funding settlement that would give certainty to London and to the tens of thousands of jobs across the country that are directly linked to TfL.
"Every other major transport system around the world receives central Government funding, and London needs the same if it is to have a transport network that can continue to support homes, jobs, opportunities and economic growth. The importance of a properly funded transport network, which can offer a viable alternative to car use and can play its part in addressing the climate emergency, has again been highlighted in recent days.
"We have this evening (22 July 2022) received a draft proposal from the Government, which we are now reviewing in detail. No agreement has yet been reached and we must make sure that the proposal is fair and that the conditions are realistic and deliverable. We will respond to the Government as soon as possible."
Joe Talora - Local Democracy Reporter