The Sun : Govt force Sadiq Khan to agree ‘string of demands’ to seal £1.6bn TFL bailout – after blackmail threat to cut trains

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LONDON Mayor Sadiq Khan crumbled after he agreed to hand significant control of TFL over to the Government in exchange for a billion pound bailout.

Ministers have agreed a multi-billion rescue package for Transport for London tonight after the Mayor threatened to cut vital train services in the capital.

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People crammed into Tubes this morning and struggled to keep safe distances between each other
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Sadiq Khan crumbled tonight
PA:Press Association

Downing Street revealed a long list of conditions the Mayor will have to abide by today to get access to vast amounts of Government cash.

The Mayor was forced to roll over in order to secure the deal – which includes £1.1billion of bailout cash and a £505million loan.

It will guarantee the return of all transport services, back to pre-Covid-19 levels, after earlier today the Mayor had said he was only planning to take it up to 75 per cent capacity next week.

The Government has also forced the Mayor to take down any confusing signs which tell Londoners to stay at home, and replace it with "stay alert" messaging.

People in the capital were left battled by the conflated messages earlier today as they went back to work for the first time since the lockdown began.


It comes as:


Under the conditions for the £1.6billion bailout deal, there will be a review of TFL's finances and structures.

The organisation has been struggling for years to stay afloat and has long had a black hole in its finances.

Government officials will now sit on TFL's board too and provide greater scrutiny of how they operate.

The mayor had been accused by No10 and Tory MPs of "playing politics" during the Covid crisis to try and up the amount of money handed to the network.

A senior Government source said tonight: "We were always prepared to consider putting more money into keeping tube and buses services running in London and to help the travelling public stay safe from coronavirus.

"But we were not prepared to accept ludicrous demands from a profligate mayor and this money comes with many strings attached."

But Londoners will have to pay more for trips, with ticket prices expected to rise at the same rate as the Retail Price Index, plus one percent, according to those close to the deal.

The Metropolitan Line was very busy this morning
Twitter/@ca104

w8media
People were unable to keep a seat free between them as they travelled to work today[/caption]

w8media
Brits have begun to head back to work – using public transport more this week[/caption]

@IPledgeToThee
Many have reported finding it hard to keep properly distanced while on the Tube[/caption]

Government data shows transport use is on the rise

With London seeing the lowest R rate of infection in the nation, at just 0.4, the Mayor's cuts could potentially force up cases in the capital.

Speaking on LBC radio, Mr Khan said that TFL was losing £600 million a month and had lost 90 percent of income through lost fares, advertising and congestion charges.

He said: "We've been involved in weeks and weeks of negotiation with the government and it's really hard in getting support from them.

"Being blunt… Unless the government today gives us confirmation of the grant that we need then the consequences could be quite severe and ramifications for all of us will be huge."

Former Tory Transport Minister Theresa Villiers, the MP for Chipping Barnet told The Sun that he Mayor's negotiation strategy had been akin to "blackmail."

She said: "The Government has come to the rescue of the Mayor.

"I welcome this bail-out for the transport system in London but it's vital that the Mayor now restores a full level of service for my constituents.

"He must also get a grip on the TfL budget.

"If he hadn't disastrously mismanaged TfL finances London would have better prepared for this pandemic shock.

"He failed to 'fix the roof while the sun was shining' and taxpayers have had to foot the bill as a result.

"He needs to focus more on delivering services efficiently and less on sound bites and press conferences blaming the Government for every problem in London."

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  • People living in England can now spend an unlimited time outside exercising and sunbathing. While it is still encouraged to stay at home as much as possible, you can lie in a park and go for a longer run or bike ride while remaining safely distanced from others.
  • Households can now play certain sports together – such as tennis or golf or go angling. But for now you must still only play them with people you have been living with.
  • You can meet up with one other family member or friend you don't live with at a time. You can sit outside together but must not have contact and keep two metres between you at all times.
  • You are allowed to view a house but again, must take precautions and keep a safe distance from anyone you don't live with.
  • People are allowed to take day trips to get to the countryside, national parks and beaches in England – but have been urged to respect the local communities, keep a safe distance and avoid hotspots.

 

  • You are still not allowed to visit relatives or friends at home, or host them at your house.
  • If you can work from home, you should. Only those who absolutely cannot perform their job from home should be leaving the house to work.
  • Advice on avoiding public transport aside from essential journeys remains in place, and staying overnight at a holiday or second home is also not allowed.
  • Fines for those who break the rules will now start at £100 in England, and will double on each further repeat offence up to £3,200. Stricter rules remain in place in the rest of the UK.

 

Former Tory minister Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon added: "The mayor should concentrate on running as big a service as possible so people can travel socially distanced and in as responsible a way as possible."

And Tory MP for Romford Andrew Rosindell said: "The mayor seems to want the best of all worlds and I don't think in these circumstances that's possible.

"He's been accused of playing politics at a time when it's not really a time for playing these sorts of games.

"Every time he opens his mouth he plays politics and I don't get the impression that he is genuinely concerned about the provision of services."

But a source close to the Mayor denied he had played any politics during the negotiations, adding: "It's hardly playing politics when the simple fact is TFL has lost 90 percent of its revenue that it needs to operate."

Today, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said people had a "civic duty" to avoid public transport if at all possible during the coronavirus crisis.

At the Downing Street press conference, he said the lockdown had been used to carry out a range of maintenance projects on the road and rail networks, and set out plans for nearly £2 billion of extra spending.

However, he said "bureaucratic bindweed" meant British infrastructure was some of the most expensive and slowest to build in the world.

He said: "If building a new hospital takes just two weeks, why should building a new road still take as long as 20 years?

"If GPs' surgeries can move online, why are most rail passengers still travelling on cardboard tickets?

"We must exploit our new-found capacity to respond at pace and apply it to rapidly improving our infrastructure."

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Rick Findler
Vehicles on the roads have gone up this week after lockdown restrictions were eased[/caption]

w8media
Canning Town station was full of people commuting to work this morning[/caption]

w8media
People waited in the designated spots on the platform but were often unable to keep distanced in the carriages[/caption]

PA:Press Association
Brits packed onto buses and train after being told they can if they cannot work from home[/caption]



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