Sadiq Khan’s always been keen to claim credit for the Night Tube’s launch, telling London Assembly Members last summer:
“Under my predecessor the implementation date for Night Tube was delayed and delayed again. I am delighted to have been able to deliver this important service for London before the end of my first summer in office.”
and, boasting that the service would launch “in the week of my hundred day anniversary” claimed in an interview with the Guardian that he’d been told “it couldn’t be done”.
These comments have encouraged many to believe that Mayor Khan was uniquely able to launch the service, but internal Transport for London documents prove it would’ve gone ahead within 100 days of the election regardless of who won.
Last summer journalists acquired a copy of Transport for London’s briefing document showing their new boss what they would help him achieve in his first few months in charge:
Among the offered successes is a commitment to “starting the Night Tube on two lines from this summer,” a promise to start delivery “on 10,000 homes” and an assurance that Sadiq would be able to announce “the doubling of Taxi and Private Hire enforcement officers” in his “first weeks”.
The last of these was hailed in a press release announcing an “unprecedented programme of far-reaching improvements” for the Taxi and minicab trades and at the following month’s Mayor’s Question Time Khan boasted that he was “boosting the number of on-street compliance resources”.
But, as with the Night Tube, these extra officers aren’t really the work of the new Mayor. Nor, as it happens are the 10,000 homes. All of these were also going to happen whether Sadiq or Zac Goldsmith won.
And to prove that – here’s the document (recently passed to me) which TfL drew up to tell Goldsmith how they’d help make his first 100 days at City Hall look like a whirlwind of successful activity:
You’ll note that the Night Tube, 10,000 homes and additional compliance officers appear in both versions.
So too does a promise to launch an “ambitious” consultation on air quality – something else Khan has hailed as a personal achievement.
From the Khan briefing:
“Launching a consultation on air quality strategy. It will be the most ambitious in London’s history, with nothing left off the table”
and from the Goldsmith version:
“Launching the most ambitious consultation on air quality in London’s history, with nothing left off the table”
Both were also going to get to announce improved cycling training schemes.
From the Khan briefing:
“Setting a new course for cycling in London which is inclusive and open to all, we’ll deliver strengthened training schemes”
and, again, from the Goldsmith version:
“You can announce a bid to host the Women’s Tour of Britain 2017, and a commitment to cycle training”
How about Sadiq’s war on Transport for London’s epic levels of waste?
To meet Sadiq’s commitment to slash costs and freeze fares, the agency promised to “deliver a fundamental change in how we are structured and how we operate” yet, though he had no fares freeze policy, Mayor Goldsmith would also have been promised “a fundamental change to how we are run, with substantial efficiency savings”.
We already knew that the clean, single-decker buses announced by Sadiq in September had been ordered by Boris Johnson but we also now know that the commitment of “all 300 central London single deck buses becoming zero emission” would also have been made whoever was Mayor –
“By 2020, 3,500 buses will by hybrid (including all buses in Central London) and all single decker buses will be electric or hydrogen “
“By 2020, 3,500 buses will by hybrid (including all buses in Central London) and all single decker buses will be electric or hydrogen”
We know Sadiq was proud of his first 100 days in office because he made a round of celebratory media appearances and even made his own video to mark the event.
But having read both briefing documents it’s clear that many of ‘his’ announcements had been sitting on TfL and City Hall’s computers waiting for the election result to come in so that the victor’s name could be dropped into the blank spaces.
And how fortunate for TfL that both of their prospective bosses had manifestos so similar that they could spin doing what they were always going to do as delivering on the new Mayor’s agenda.