London Assembly proposals to abolish passenger watchdog London TravelWatch are unlikely to proceed after the House of Lords failed to support an amendment to the Government’s Localism Bill.
TravelWatch was established by the 1999 Greater London Authority Act and is appointed and funded by the London Assembly. Changes to it’s legal powers or status require primary legislation to be passed by Parliament.
The Assembly had suggested abolishing the independent watchdog and taking on its responsibility for TfL services while passing the oversight of rail services to Passenger Focus.
An amendment to the Localism Bill proposed by Liberal Democrat Peer and former Assembly Member Lord Tope would have allowed those plans to proceed.
The watchdog has been engaged in what several City Hall insiders describe as “intensive lobbying” to see off the threat of abolition.
Yesterday TravelWatch Chair Sharon Grant warned the amendment, if passed, would “effectively end independent passenger representation in London.”
Lord Tope dismissed fears that moving the watchdog’s role to the Assembly would result in the politicisation of passenger complaints.
Tope told Peers that AMs receive a “substantial” amount of transport related casework from constituents and the proposal to abolish TravelWatch would “enhance” their role.
The amendment was withdrawn after it failed to receive the support of the House.
Speaking after the amendment was withdrawn, Grant said: “We are of course very pleased that peers spoke so passionately about our importance as a truly independent champion for the travelling public – and delighted that we will remain so.
“However, we understand the need for financial constraint at this time, and will continue our efforts to become as efficient as possible as an organisation”.