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Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London
"The big money does not come until after the election"
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Friday, 21 July, 2000, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Livingstone denounces Treasury 'doo-doo'

Mayor Livingstone is left with the bill
Ken Livingstone renewed his long-running feud with Chancellor Gordon Brown when the London mayor complained that tackling congestion in the city would have to be delayed because he had been "dumped" with the outstanding bill for the Jubilee Line.

The debt, contained in the detail of Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's 180bn 10-year transport plan, dealt a serious blow to efforts to get the capital moving as soon as possible, according to the mayor.

Extending the east London line, a new Wimbledon-Hackney line, a new east Thames river crossing and other major improvement projects all face delay because 104m of the 3.2bn London transport budget unveiled by Mr Prescott must go to pay the Jubilee Line bills.

"It's bizarre," said Mr Livingstone. "Did someone in the Treasury forget to pay the bill and were they waiting for the first available sap to pay for it?"

"It is tragic to have come so close and then to hear the Treasury have done a great doo-doo on the mayor's doorstep."

Mr Livingstone said he was only told that Transport for London, which has taken over running transport in the city and is chaired by the mayor, would be expected to meet the Jubilee Line extension (JLE) bill within the last 24 hours.

He said the bill could now mean delays of one year to projects aimed improving public transport.

London Minister Keith Hill: "Ken got more than he asked for"
There is concern in the mayor's office that the phasing of the cash for London makes the introduction of congestion charges more difficult.

It is feared the staging of the new money will mean public transport would not have been much improved by the time Mr Livingstone had been planning for the charges to hit motorists.

The 3.2bn for London will be phased in over three years with the bulk released at the end of 2003-2004, not leaving enough funds available to start improvements within the "crucial" first year of 2001-2002, he said.

"I asked government for 3.4bn over the years and for 300m over and above existing plans in the first year," said Mr Livingstone.

"Instead, we are promised 218m in the first year, of which 104m is earmarked to pay outstanding bills to the Jubilee Line, leaving London with just 114m for new spending over and above existing plans in the year 2001-2002.

"London should not be made to wait another 12 months for vital improvements because previous governments made a mess of the Jubilee Line.

"In all my meetings with ministers over the last 10 weeks nothing was said about this outstanding bill.

"London's transport system has been starved of investment by central governments over many years, producing a real transport crisis in the capital."

'A great deal for Londoners'

Minister for London Keith Hill rejected the mayor's complaints, saying the budget was a "serious cash injection".

"Let's get Ken's complaints into perspective," he said. "He's talking about a 100m bill for the JLE - and the government is giving him 3.2bn over the next three years. This is an overall 10-year package of 25bn for London.

"We gave Ken the 3bn he asked for - and more - and this JLE money is over and above that sum. All in all this is a great deal for London and Londoners."

He added: "If the mayor decides it is a priority, the money could permit him to implement plans for a fares freeze and the introduction of bus conductors.

"The government has provided the resources - now it is up to the mayor to come up with the transport strategy."

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