The Guardian’s Dave Hill and Dan Milmo today bring news that Transport for London is likely to be forced “to make multimillion-pound spending cuts, raise fares or cut back on network upgrades to plug a £400m funding gap in the troubled contract with Tube Lines.”
The issue of Tube Lines and the sums it wants for the upgrade work has been brewing for some time and Boris Johnson is right to expect Government to make good on any funding gaps given the undemocratic way in which the whole PPP regime was forced through in defiance of the wishes of Londoners.
However the issue has wider implications, as revealed by this site last year, Boris has given London Councils an undertaking to give away his reserve power to set the level of funding provided by the boroughs for the Freedom Pass where TfL and the boroughs cannot agree on the sums involved. The undertaking makes provision for any disputes to be “determined by independent arbitration”.
It’s a policy City Hall hasn’t announced any reversal of so we must presume it’s still ‘live’.
As I argued at the time, the Tube PPP system offers a handy warning on the dangers of any independent arbiter deciding funding levels where the Mayor is reliant on external money to make good on electoral and policy promises.