London underground has told London mayor Ken Livingstone that he has no legal right to stop the part-privatisation of the Tube, even though he was elected on a manifesto opposed to it.
The warning comes as Livingstone has appointed political pundit Will Hutton head of a panel to examine whether the public-private partnership offers better value for money than traditional procurement.
Hutton, chief executive of the Industrial Society, is strongly opposed to the use of the private finance initiative in the NHS.
However, a senior LU insider said: “What Livingstone promised the public during his election campaign cannot be delivered. He has no legal grounds to seek a judicial review, even if his panel decides that PPP does not offer better value.”
He added that, under the terms of last year’s Government of London Act, Livingstone has no option but to co-operate with John Prescott’s department on the PPP.
“The fact that Livingstone believes he can claim legitimacy for his view of PPP from his election is based on the assumption that he has legal grounds to change it. Unfortunately, he has not,” he said.
Livingstone had threatened to ask for a judicial review in an attempt to stop the part-privatisation of the Tube. But he has since modified that stance and says he will listen to the findings of Hutton’s committee before acting.
The Government of London Office declined to comment but said the panel would report its findings by September. A spokesperson was unable say how the panel would gather evidence.
A spokesperson for bidding consortium Metronet, which had earlier refused to take part in a select committee inquiry into LU funding, said it would co-operate with the panel if requested.
“We believe in PPP and we have nothing to hide,” he said.
A spokesperson for the DETR added: “The GLA and mayor are under a duty to co-operate with the government on PPP. It is up to the mayor who he seeks advice from, but it is the government that will make the decision, not the mayor.”
He added that the government was examining the viability of PPP through its public sector comparator.