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The BBC's Simon Montague
"The tube's privatisation is already way behind scedule"
 real 56k

London Mayor Ken Livingstone
"The question of financing is wide open"
 real 28k

Gwyneth Dunwoody from the Transport Select Committee
"Victory for common sense"
 real 28k

Friday, 2 February, 2001, 15:59 GMT
Tube deal reached
London Underground
Bob Kiley will now look over the plans for the Tube
Plans to split up the management of London's Tube network have been stopped after a compromise deal was struck between the Deputy Prime Minister and Mayor Ken Livingstone's transport commissioner Bob Kiley.

Both sides are claiming success after talks over the funding of the Tube's modernisation produced a breakthrough.


The thing that was not negotiable was splitting up the Underground we now have that secured

Ken Livingstone
Reacting to the news Mr Livingstone told the BBC: "The government has got what it wants which is private finance coming in.

"I have got what I want which is the safety of Londoners secured by retaining Bob Kiley as the management controller at all levels."

Modernisation plans in train

The controversial plans to part-privatise the Underground seem to be going ahead, but with the crucial difference that the firms bidding for contracts to modernise stations and track will now not be involved in the management of the Tube network.

But the implementation of the plans will be delayed for several weeks as a result of calls for more detailed talks.

Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott promised that as part of the deal Mr Kiley will now receive all the commercial documents involved, enabling him to make a reasoned judgement on the issue. Some papers had previously been withheld.

Bob Kiley
Bob Kiley: Working with Prescott
Mr Prescott said: "He will enter into discussion with the bidders with our full co-operation.

"We do not envisage this going into months of delay. It is at the first stage now and it will not take very long to decide if he has a solution for London and for Ken Livingstone."

Strike action

The news comes as London faces the first of three Tube strikes on Monday, with unions protesting over the issue of safety which they say a partial privatisation could jeopardise.

But Mr Prescott insisted: "We believe that PPP (Public Private Partnership) is the best way to deal with this but we now want to subject that to the examination of Bob Kiley and London Transport."

The gap between the two sides on the issue of privatisation had previously been huge, with Mr Kiley calling John Prescott's earlier plans "fatally flawed".

Now Mr Kiley says the two sides have moved much closer together, although he admits "gaps" still remain.

Breakthrough

Heralding what he said was the "big breakthrough," Mr Livingstone said: "For me the most important thing is the unified management structure.

"The question of whether we have bonds is secondary to that.

"The thing that was not negotiable was splitting up the Underground we now have that secured."

Outlining the crucial role to be played by his transport commissioner in the future the mayor added: "Bob Kiley's agreement will be necessary for the next stage and he is not going to buy a deal which would endanger Londoners."

Speaking for the Conservatives Bernard Jenkin, the shadow transport minister said: "After four wasted years the government has been forced to admit that there are fundamental flaws in their undeliverable PPP."

He then predicted more delays to modernisation saying: "There will be no new investment in the Tube until after the general election."

Talks

The announcement follows over two and half hours of talks between the deputy prime minister and Mr Kiley on Thursday.

Plans for a sell-off have come under fire from numerous sources, including Mr Livingstone and the London assembly, a committee of MPs and the National Audit Office.

Polls of Londoners also suggest the public has little taste for a sell-off.

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See also:

06 Dec 00 | UK Politics
GLA rejects Tube sell-off
19 Jul 00 | UK Politics
MPs' warning on Tube sell-off
18 Aug 00 | UK Politics
Tube sell-off safety threat
13 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Prescott's Tube plan 'fatally flawed'
16 Dec 00 | UK Politics
New blow to Tube sell-off plan
09 Oct 00 | UK Politics
American appointed to run Tube
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