A new report from the House of Commons Transport Committee into February’s snowfalls which resulted in the capital’s bus services being suspended accuses Mayor of London Boris Johnson of a “lack of leadership” in his handling of the issue.
The report finds that: “There are ways in which the response to heavy snow and its impact on traffic can be improved. However, these are to do with planning and co-ordination, not increased spending. Our witnesses were very clear that extra money, increased salt stocks or more snow ploughs are not the solution to dealing with snow and ice on UK roads. “
Today’s report follows an earlier investigation by the London Assembly which found the capital could have recovered faster from last month’s snow storms had coordination between boroughs, Transport for London and the emergency services been better,
During his appearance before the committee Mayor Johnson rebutted claims that he had let Londoners down and said it wasn’t “within my competence to stop the biggest downfall of snow we have had over the skies of this city for 20 years.”
At one stage Louise Ellman, the chairman of the committee, ordered the Mayor to remain seated as he appeared to consider walking out. At the time Ellman said the Mayor’s behaviour was “unacceptable,”
In their report MPs accuse Johnson of being “reluctant to appear before this committee”and say they’re “disappointed at the Mayor’s apparent disregard for scrutiny work”, calling on him “to adopt a more open and constructive approach” to scrutiny.
Responding to the report a spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “The Mayor feels that the committee have taken a partisan and wholly opportunistic approach.”
In their recommendations the Committee say: “We hope that, upon reflection, the Mayor will acknowledge that the transport situation in the capital on 1 and 2 February was unsatisfactory. While many of the factors leading to the transport disruption were unavoidable, more active strategic leadership and preparation could have given more confidence and may have enabled more public transport services to be restored more quickly.”
The Mayor’s spokesperson said: “With the benefit of hindsight it is even clearer to the Mayor that putting buses on icy roads, which could not be cleared, would have been irresponsible, dangerous and potentially lethal. The Mayor is pleased that today we are arguing over a select committee report, rather than giving evidence at an inquest into why Londoners have been injured unnecessarily on the icy roads.”