Confessions of a Political Animal

November 27, 2008

A Western Democracy?

cc-signIt probably shouldn’t surprise anyone that Boris Johnson has today announced that he will be scrapping the Western Extension of the Congestion Charge. We noted before that there had been straws in the wind in the opposite direction and that Johnson had been modifying his language and moving towards the ‘third option’ of the modification of the charge – and indeed even as late as yesterday the Evening Standard, normally a good barometer of the mayoral climate, was bigging up the compromise option. But despite this, and blue Boris trying to present himself as green Boris as recently as Tuesday, the candidate’s hyperbole over the western extension had simply been too great for any kind of credible u-turn to be executed with any kind of credibility.

The Animal’s previous posts on this subject have pointed out that Johnson had been trying to play the great democrat on this issue, whilst sticking to a very limited definition of democracy. We quoted Johnson previously as having said

“The previous Mayor made the decision to introduce the western extension in the face of overwhelming opposition. Unlike my predecessor, I am going into this with an open mind and this will be a genuine consultation. It is high time that politicians listened to the people whom they represent and I am proud to keep the pledge made during my election (more…)

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November 10, 2008

The Silvertown Link: the answer to no-one’s problems

Thames Gateway Bridge

Scrapped: the Thames Gateway Bridge

Last week The Animal posted on the unambitious, short-sighted and generally depressing pair of strategy documents that emerged from the Mayor of London and Transport for London on the future direction of London’s transport networks. Today, at the risk of appearing a touch parochial and exposing myself to accusations of a conflict of interest, I wanted to look at the approach being taken to the issue of river crossings in east London, which demonstrate quite clearly the lack of coherence and strategic thought in these documents.

It should have come as no surprise to anyone that Boris Johnson announced last week that the plans for a road bridge in the Thames Gateway linking Thamesmead and Beckton were being scrapped. In his manifesto, Johnson had said

I support in principle the need for an extra river crossing upstream from Tower Bridge to ease congestion and aid economic growth. However, any scheme will have to deal with the issues on both sides of the river in terms of traffic management, safeguarding the (more…)

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