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Iain Dale forensically challenges business minister over increased TfL charges
19 May 2020, 21:05
Iain Dale challenged business minister Paul Scully on the government's £1.6 billion TfL bailout which Sadiq Khan previously described to LBC as a "bad deal" with "outrageous" conditions.
These conditions, Mr Khan said, include a reimposing of the congestion charge, a halt on free travel for children and the charging of over-60s to travel at peak times.
Paul Scully said that due to decisions the Mayor of London has made over the last four years, such as freezing single fares, has led to TfL's debt being around £13 billion. He said the Mayor's initial request was for £4 billion which was beyond the realm of reasonable.
"Their operating deficit has increased by 71%, they've increased their cash reserves by 16%, that does not read to me like financial mismanagement," countered Iain.
Iain pushed him to answer why the government insisted on an increased congestion charge, which will mean charges are £15 a day from 22 June, to which Mr Scully said this was not an obligatory request but something they asked Mr Khan to go away and review.
Mr Scully continued that to keep London's traffic flowing the capital needs congestion charge but the request to review it"wasn't a green light to overnight increase the fair by a third."
"Of course it was because you weren't expecting him to reduce the congestion charge, the only thing he could do to raise more revenue was to increase it," said Iain, "similarly Sadiq Khan says fares must go up above inflation next year, is that right?"
Mr Scully confirmed that part of the negotiation was to rise the travel fares for all, including over 60s and children, was because tax payers who are not in London should not be subsidising the mismanagement of TfL finances by the Mayor.
Iain surmised that while Conservative London Mayor candidate Shaun Bailey said the government did not insist upon these measures, they "clearly" did.
"This isn't a negotiation, they want £1.6 billion and you tell them they've got to do this. It's as simple as that," Iain said.
Mr Scully said he'd rather Sadiq Khan dial down the politics and show a bit more leadership, reflecting that the full deal will be published by government as soon as able.