Monday, February 19, 2007

Livingstone to gain control of rail outside London?

Commuters in the towns surrounding London may end up having their rail fares into the city dictated by the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, under plans drawn up by the Department of Transport (DfT). The plan would see the Mayor take control of rail pricing in the Home Counties, which could result in people who have no say over the election of the Mayor in London being forced to pay for transport programmes inside the capital.

The obvious concern is that Livingstone, in the guise of Transport for London (TfL) could hike up fares for commuters who live outside London to pay for programmes in the capital. Livingstone could make use of this to benefit London taxpayers in the hope of enhancing his own electoral chances - at the expense of people who have no democratic ability to oppose any plans he makes. The whole idea flies in the face of democracy could hold non-Londoners to ransom. Unsurprisingly London TravelWatch backs the idea because of its vested interest in the capital's transport system.

I wonder what the reaction of Livingstone would be if the DfT handed control of transport pricing in London to Northamptonshire County Council, so the interests of commuters who go to London could be looked after from outside the capital? As long as the Mayor is Labour the flow of power seems to be one way into the Mayor's office. I wonder if the same would be true if a Tory controlled the city while a Labour PM sat in Downing Street?

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