Mayor urged to rethink his transport funding cuts
Published: Friday 15th December 17
Senior councillors in Wandsworth have urged London Mayor Sadiq Khan to reverse a series of major funding cuts to transport projects.
Councillors have expressed dismay that long standing Transport for London projects are now being axed or put on ice at the 11th hour, despite pledges are recently as last year that they would go ahead.
TfL has announced that five year business plans, approved in 2016 are now being re-written and major infrastructure projects shelved.
According to briefings given by senior TfL officials, the funding cuts mean that potholes and carriageway defects on major arterial roads (red routes) in Wandsworth will not be repaired until they are “safety critical”.
And the TfL officials also confirmed that over the next two years spending on routine maintenance on the borough’s red routes will be cut to zero.
Funding from TfL to support the council’s routine maintenance of main roads in Wandsworth that are not red routes will also be cut to zero in 2018/19 and 2019/20.
In total funding pledges to transport schemes in Wandsworth of over £600,000 have been lost next year with TfL warning that the same can be expected the following year.
Projects now under threat include the Tooting Bec Common Quietways cycle scheme while plans for an environmental improvement project in Putney High Street will be delayed, while budgets to tackle congestion on local red routes including Trinity Road, Burntwood Lane and Roehampton lane have been cut or scaled back.
In addition, plans to provide new modernised trains on the Northern Line have also been deferred to an as yet undeclared date.
The picture in Wandsworth is not unique. Similar briefings have been given to other London boroughs and the issue was discussed last week at a meeting of the Transport and Environment Committee of London Councils – the umbrella group that represents the 33 London boroughs.
At that meeting representatives from the 33 boroughs were told that projects across the capital were being dramatically scaled back.
Of particular concern was the proposed 13 per cent cut in funding for London’s Taxicard scheme which provides support to vulnerable and disabled people in the capital who cannot easily use public transport.
Wandsworth’s transport spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “The Mayor really needs to rethink his whole approach to transport if he wants to avoid travel chaos across London.
“Some desperately needed projects to keep Londoners on the move are either being axed completely or drastically scaled back.
“The idea that TfL will spend money repairing red routes only when they become dangerous is as short-sighted as it is foolhardy and bad news for cyclists in particular.
“And his proposal to slash funding for taxicards for disabled people threatens to take away the only link to the outside world that some vulnerable Londoners have.
“The Mayor was repeatedly warned when he announced his fares freeze that it would leave a big hole in his transport budget, and we are now beginning to see those chickens coming home to roost. He needs to get a grip on his finances, draw up some sensible business plans and stop short changing London’s transport network.”