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December 17, 2003



I would question your choice of the congestion charge as a success for Livingstone: it has had a substantial, negative, impact on business whilst failing to make any profit for public transport improvements as it was supposed to. If you must find him a gold star, the increase in the numbers of buses must be the one - as a London resident, it is rare to be able to notice a positive change in a public service, and this has been one. It's almost worth all of the other nonsense.

Jackie D

James, I'd love to get some of that in my neck of London -- buses are few and far between, and are routinely in excess of 40 minutes late. It's pretty bad when one must leave a cushion of an hour or so in one's timetable in order to plan around the perpetually tardy buses.

I'm also not a fan of how Livingstone is paying for his bus programmes, or how some of the money is being spent. I was reading a newspaper for Londoners of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi descent recently, and there was a huge colour spread about the new bus depot facilities at a location in East London -- complete with a prayer room, a relaxation room with a TV, games and DVDs, an internet café and beds for taking naps. Perhaps the reason I can't catch a bus within a half hour of its scheduled arrival is because the drivers and mechanics are too busy having a kip or playing Crash Bandicoot to do their jobs.

Peter Bocking

It would be interesting to see how the congestion charge has impacted on business,are there any figures?

Barry Meislin

"Through an inexplicable infatuation with property developers allied to – and this is the bizarre point for a man supposedly of the Left – a laissez-faire approach to planning, Livingstone is doing a lot of harm to the character of London’s skyline."

I find your surprise utterly surprising.

Andy Richards

Livingstone is doing no harm to London's skyline. It was a mess already. Tall buildings may improve the skyline. As for the 'developer infatuation' Livingstone understands that London has no choice but to develop higher density buildings if it wants to stay competitive.


Is Ken the BBC's favourite politician? It certainly appears so.

Jonathan Hoffman

Tony Blair's decision was a purely pragmatic one -he does not want London to not be run by a Labour Mayor for another 5 years. In any case Ken's ban was I think for 5 years and the presumption was always that he would be let back in. This way (doing it a yr early) Labour gets a full term of the Mayoralty instead of having to wait another 5 years. As well as Neil Kinnock, Charles Clarke was strongly opposed, and I think Patricia Hewitt. Personally I think there was no alternative to a congestion charge. Before it the only way to get across London other than at a snail's pace was by motor bike taxi. What one can legitimately object to is the absence of a 'joined-up policy' with the outer London boroughs. It makes no sense to be initiating new control zones in outer London (eg Barnet where I am) at the same time as introducing a congestion charge in the centre.

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