A complaint by the London Assembly to the Information Commissioner has secured the publication of Transport for London’s advice to Boris Johnson about the 2013 tube and bus fare rises.
Assembly Members have long argued that because fares make up a large part of the Mayor’s budget, the Assembly and voters should have automatic, routine access to TfL’s advice.
Both the Mayor’s office and Transport for London have repeatedly refused requests to publish the information, arguing that as advice to the Mayor, it is exempt from Freedom of Information laws.
However in a provisional assessment, the Information Commissioner ruled that the public interest in seeing how the annual fares decision was made outweighed the Mayor’s right to confidential advice.
The Commissioner’s letter says that while the Mayor was entitled to a “safe space” to consider his final fares decision, one the decision had been taken and published it was no longer “tenable or acceptable” to argue the information should be withheld.
As a result of the Commissioner’s intervention the Mayor’s office has provided the Assembly with TfL’s advice covering the 2013 fares increase.
The complaint was made by John Biggs, Chair of the Assembly Budget & Performance Committee, who said he hoped the Mayor would now publish “the advice and background information” he relied on for this year’s increase.
Mr Biggs added: “I am glad that the Mayor has finally agreed to publish his fares advice, albeit under pressure from the Information Commissioner’s Office. It’s just a shame this level of openness and transparency required many years of pressure from the Assembly.
“Fares make up such a substantial portion of the Mayor’s income, and have such an impact on Londoners finances, that it is impossible to properly understand how budget decisions have been reached without seeing the advice that informed them.”