The London Assembly is to investigate the implications of ending Ken Livingstone’s controversial ‘oil for advice’ deal with Venezuela. Under the deal London received a payment equivalent to 20 per cent of the price of fuel for the capital’s bus fleet. This saving was passed on to income support recipients – some of the poorest households in London – in the form of reduced bus fares.
The agreement was scrapped by Boris Johnson who expressed concerns over “one of the world’s financial powerhouses being funded by the people of a country where many people live in extreme poverty.”
However, in a move which attracted widespread criticism the announcement was sneaked out in a press release over a Bank Holiday weekend and for months the Mayor’s staff were unable to confirm whether subsidised travel for income support recipients would be continued.
One spokesman for the Mayor told the International Herald Tribune “there were no plans to offer low-income residents advantageous bus fares”.
In June this position was modified with Mayor Johnson telling Green Party Assembly Member Darren Johnson he had “asked TfL to investigate more suitable forms of fares concession for low income Londoners for consideration at the next fares revision.”
Only in September did Johnson and Transport for London confirm that there would continue to be half-price travel.
Tomorrow (6 November) the London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee will look at the implications of ending the ’ deal with Venezuela and question Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor’s Director of Transport Policy, and Shashi Verma, Head of Fares and Ticketing at Transport for London on details of the new scheme and how it will be marketed.
The meeting will also examine the budget for publicising the Mayor’s policies and will question key members of the Mayor’s communications team including Director of Communications Guto Harri and Dan Ritterband, Director of Marketing.
The meeting is open to the public and will take place on Thursday, 6 November from 10:30am in the Chamber at City Hall (The Queen’s Walk, London SE1).