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London Mayor Ken Livingstone
"There is not day-to-day management control"
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Transport minister Keith Hill
"We would not go forward with the PPP unless safety was guaranteed"
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Friday, 2 March, 2001, 10:43 GMT
Mayor warns of Tube plan deaths
Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone fears for future safety on the Tube
The government's plans for the London Underground will compromise safety and lead to deaths, London Mayor Ken Livingstone has warned.

He also confirmed legal action will be launched against ministers over their determination to go ahead with a scheme to part-privatise the Tube.


...I have not the slightest doubt, if it goes ahead, Londoners will die

Ken Livingstone
Mr Livingstone said he had been forced to take legal action because the government's plans did not meet the legal requirement to provide a safe, efficient and economic transport system.

The move comes after a breakdown in talks between the government and the mayor's transport commissioner Bob Kiley.

Only a month ago it appeared a deal had been reached with Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

But Mr Livingstone said the agreement they signed had been reneged on by Mr Prescott.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "What has emerged as government policy is dramatically different from the signed deal we got in writing just a month ago from John Prescott which was a working way forward.

"I was absolutely confident at that point that this problem was behind us and we could look forward to a safe Underground system.

"The proposal I've got in front of me now, I have not the slightest doubt, if it goes ahead, Londoners will die."

Bob Kiley
Bob Kiley: PPP 'too expensive'
Lawyers said a court could rule the government's proposed public-private partnership (PPP) unlawful on the grounds of safety and cost and force the government to ditch it, Mr Livingstone said.

A court hearing could be held within three weeks, the mayor added.

Transport for London (TfL) has already given approval for Mr Kiley to launch the legal action.

Mr Kiley, who oversaw improvements to New York's subway and was appointed by Mr Livingstone, has called the PPP "prohibitively expensive" for the taxpayer.

He wants a "unified management" structure to control the Tube.

Strike ballot

Under PPP, responsibility for tracks, signalling and tunnels would be carved up between three private sector companies.

A legal report to a meeting of the TfL board on Thursday suggested the authority would have a good prospect of success if it went to the High Court.

Earlier in the week the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions said legal action by the mayor would not be "a surprise".

But a spokeswoman said the department would be "very disappointed if the mayor did take any action that would further delay the business of investing in the Tube and making it better for passengers".

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union has announced it is balloting members on a fresh wave of strikes in protest at the government's plans.

The Conservatives have also joined the fray by shifting their policy that had focused on privatising London Underground.

The party says its priority is now to support Mr Kiley and his plans.

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See also:

01 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Tube court threat nearer
26 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Ministers to discuss Tube crisis
02 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Tube deal reached
16 Dec 00 | UK Politics
New blow to Tube sell-off plan
13 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Prescott's Tube plan 'fatally flawed'
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