Economic competence was cemented as a key factor in May’s elections today as Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson swapped accusations over Transport for London’s budget.
Livingstone’s campaign accused Johnson of misleading Londoners over a claimed £20 million “financial hole” in his transport manifesto. Mr Johnson has said he will cut spending on advertising and press officers at TfL to fund additional Safer Transport Teams.
Speaking to the Home Affairs Select Committee on 11 March Johsnon said: “the Mayor’s publicity budget is going to go up from £64m to £84m next year. I think some of that money could be spent here on another 440 transport PSCOs on some of the rowdier routes where there aren’t enough transport PCSOs.”
Livingstone’s campaign claim Johnson has based his calculations on “a preliminary draft TfL budget” and that the final budget published on 22nd January allowed for only £71 million to to be spent on publicity – leaving less scope for cuts.
Mr Livingstones campaign claimed Johnson’s transport manifesto was “in financial meltdown.”
“Boris Johnson’s transport manifesto is unravelling every day. It has been shown to be completely uncosted, and must therefore be withdrawn. A new document with honest and accurate costs document must be issued so Londoners can know what policies the Conservative candidate for Mayor is presenting to them.”
Mr Johnson has rejected Labour’s claims, accusing his rival of “a cynical ploy” and playing politics with the TfL budget.
Mr Johnson said “a month after I produced my fully costed Crime Manifesto, he reduces the TfL budget so that he can criticise my figures.”
“At the end of the day I care about public safety more than publicity. I am committed to delivering more police for London to make public transport safer, and if I need to swap press officers for police officers, I will.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to ‘£20bn’, the disputed figure is £20 million and we apologise to readers for this unfortunate typing error.