Boris Johnson this morning told London Assembly Members that he’s changed his mind and no longer supports local council chiefs who want to see the Mayor give up his reserve powers which allow him to protect the Freedom Pass.
Under current rules, if the local councils who fund the Freedom pass cannot reach agreement with Transport for London on the level of funding for the scheme, the Mayor can impose a funding figure on the boroughs. Local councils say this ‘reserve scheme’ is unfair as there is no mechanism to appeal against TfLs decison.
In February 2009 we revealed that the Mayor had given an undertaking via Transport for London “to support London Councils attempts to amend the ‘Reserve Scheme’” and move to a system of arbitration.
That undertaking was subsequently confirmed to us by a CIty Hall spokesman who said: “The Mayor has long championed a closer relationship with London’s Boroughs as he believes putting an end to the conflict that characterised their relationship with his predecessor will be the best way of improving the quality of life for Londoners.”
“The Boroughs agreement to guarantee the Freedom Pass for another five years and TfL’s support for an amendment of the Reserve scheme is clear evidence of the productiveness of that approach”.
However questioned by Labour AM Val Shawcross at this morning’s Mayor’s Question Time session, Mayor Johnson said he was no longer in favour of giving up the powers and indicated he would not be supporting a draft bill sponsored by London Councils, the umbrella body representing local authorities in the capital, and declared that the Freedom Pass “is safe”.
City Hall have yet to respond to requests for a statement on today’s comments.