London mayor makes case for Tories to maintain spending on major infrastructure projects while cutting costs elsewhere
Boris Johnson renewed his call for Crossrail to be protected by the Tories this morning as he announced a further £2.6bn cuts in Transport for London expenditure.
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, the capital’s mayor set out a raft of efficiency measures, which take total savings to £5bn over three years.
The cuts, which focus on back-office functions such as IT and human resources, come amidst growing speculation that TfL’s financial constraints will affect capital projects such as the £695m Victoria Station upgrade.
But Johnson today called on his party’s leaders to maintain spending on major infrastructure schemes, particularly Crossrail.
He said: "Do not drop the investment that is essential to the UK economy. Cut the babysitting monitors but do not cut Crossrail. Cut the babysitting monitors' human resources department but do not cut the tube upgrades."
TfL has already brought in cost-saving initiatives following the collapse of the Metronet tube consortium in 2007. In June, it announced 1,000 job cuts and postponed 50 station upgrades and it is locked in a funding dispute with Tube Lines over the cost of its seven-year maintenance programme.
Speaking at a TfL fringe event after Johnson’s speech, the body’s commissioner, Peter Hendy, said: “Not only is there national pressure on finance but our budget and business plan is under pressure. And we are realistic. We have responded with a significant programme to take cuts out of TfL.” But he added that programmes remaining in TfL’s business plan such as tube line upgrades were “vital”.
The Tories have so far refused to rule out scrapping Crossrail, saying that all major projects will be subject to review.