Thursday, 15 April 2010

David Cameron may scrap Crossrail: Greening

The Conservatives may scrap Crossrail if they win the election, their Shadow London Minister admitted today:

Speaking this morning, Justine Greening said that it was "possible" the project would be canned before adding that she "can’t give a guarantee that it will continue."

The comments came during an LBC debate between the London representatives of the three main parties:

LBC Debate: Thursday, April 15th 2010 09.25

Speakers: Nick Ferrari, Justine Greening

NF: Let’s go the Conservatives first. Your stance on Crossrail? Justine Greening.

JG: We’ve always been very supportive of Crossrail. We recognise how important it is for London as well but what we can’t do before the election is finished is write a budget when we’re not in government. And so we, we can, we’ve said that we know it’s important, we know that the tube infrastructure and investing in, that’s important, but we can’t do a line by line budget because we are in such a parlous state with public finances.

NF: So Crossrail will continue but you don’t know how?

JG: What, all I….

NF: So it won’t continue?

JG: We, we can’t, we can’t give a line by line budget on projects across government, including Crossrail. Everything’s up for review but we think it’s important.

NF: I’m sure this is my stupidity. Will it continue or won’t it continue?

JG: I can’t give a guarantee that it will continue.

NF: So it might not, it can go the other way? The Conservatives could scrap Crossrail?

JG: It’s possible but at the end of the day we’ve always said that we think it’s important project and, and actually the reason this is important is we, we want to be responsible so we can’t pretend that we can write an entire budget outside of government. We’ve said we’ll do one within 50 days of getting into government if we get elected and we will then provide some clarity and certainty.

Greening's comments come within two days of a Tory manifesto commitment to "support" the project.

Labour's London Minister Tessa Jowell who took part in the debate with Justine said today:

"It is now clear that Conservatives will not commit to the construction of Crossrail, which is vital for business, jobs and economic growth in London. This in stark contrast to Labour's clear and unequivocal commitment to Crossrail which will add ten per cent to London's transport capacity, create 14,000 jobs in the construction period alone and add an estimated £20billion to London's economy."

Liberal Democrat London Transport spokesperson Caroline Pidgeon said:

"The Conservatives are all over the place when it comes to Crossrail. The Conservative Mayor of London never tires of boasting about his support for the project and Conservative run Kensington and Chelsea Council are even demanding a further new station which will add to the cost of the project. Yet at the same time a London Conservative MP, speaking on behalf of the national party, is simply unable to provide a clear assurance that this much needed project will be completed."

Boris Johnson has repeatedly failed to get Cameron to commit to the project, even pushing Cameron live on air last week.

Until recently I had assumed that there was no way they would can it, not least because of the huge embarrassment it would cause Boris.

However, it now seems more and more likely that they will at the very least scale back the size of the project.

David Cameron should now spell out exactly where he stands before London goes to the polls.


Anonymous said...

Much may depend on whether Milton becomes Lord Milton as has been widely rumoured. He would be able to put a good argument for keeping it, or at least most of it. The 'Southern' spur - ie from CW into greenwich and SE London has always been expensive and likely to be cut, whoever wins.

AdamB said...

SE London missing out on a major transport project? Surely not!

It's may be the case, although the Labour party have committed to "complete" the project in their manifesto.

Ken Livingstone (Press release) said...

"The Conservatives' manifesto failed to give a clear commitment on Crossrail and now Shadow London Minister Justine Greening has confirmed it – it is possible that under Cameron and Osborne Crossrail will be axed, and they definitely will not guarantee the scheme will go ahead. This project is about London’s future, with ten per cent more transport capacity linking up all the main centres of jobs in London . It is a measure of how badly wrong the Tories are on securing economic recovery that they cannot give a clear and unequivocal commitment to complete Crossrail. No Londoner, no one from the London business community who wants a secure economic future for the capital, and no one who wants a modernised transport system for London should vote Tory."

Solomon Grundy said...

Solomon Grundy is prepared to go out on a limb and say that they won't scrap Crossrail.

Then again, Solomon Grundy has been wrong before.

AdamB said...

Before today I would have agreed with you but I'm not so sure now. Remember all the TfL projects Boris scrapped after his election. Why not Crossrail as well?

Mayor's Transport Adviser Kulveer Ranger (press statement) said...

“The Mayor’s passion and support for Crossrail is unquenched and he has expressed this very clearly to colleagues and the conservative leadership who understand his view that this is not a want but a must for the capital. Every inch of London will benefit from the jobs, increase in capacity and easing of congestion that Crossrail will bring.”

Anonymous said...

If labour / lib-dems give an assurance it will go ahead, then that's a whole heap of money they'll have to find; either borrow or take from another project.

While it's fair enough to point out this project's good for London and the conservatives aren't guaranteeing it, it might not be good for the deficit / tax burden / hospitals / or god knows what other budget, so the argument shouldn't surround whether they're promising it or not, that's actually a reasonable stance to take until they've done a full budget review, it's more a case of do you want the winning government to spend its way out of the economic mess or deal with the deficit head on. I for one don't know; it's not as simple as most people ideologically like to think (on both sides of the argument), but I'll not bash their decision in favour of blindly spending money we might be better off using else-where or not spending at all.

Hopefully it'll be able to go ahead as planned no matter who gets in.

Steve Hart, Unite (press release) said...

"It is extremely worrying for London that the Tories are refusing to commit to support Crossrail. This project is vital for London's future prosperity. It will enable poorer communities to access work and provide the necessary infrastructure to sustain London as a great world city. It has overwhelming support from trade unions and across the political parties in London. And the business community sees Crossrail as central to improving London's transport system.

"In the construction phase, which coincides with this period of recession, it will provide 14,000 jobs for construction workers who would otherwise face unemployment. To scrap a project this large would have a major recessionary impact.

"It is astonishing that Justine Greening, shadow transport secretary, should say she will not guarantee that a project of such strategic and economic importance to the capital like Crossrail will continue. Does she not know that work is already well advanced, for example at Tottenham Court Road?

"Not only does this show a worrying lack of knowledge about the needs of London, the Tories are also showing their true face as job slashers."

Solomon Grundy said...

I'm sort of hoping that Cameron is learning the lessons of Boris' balls-ups. Boris got an awful kicking cross-London over those scrappages from business and boroughs(including from Tory councillors).

Actually, to be fair, Kulveer did. He was a bit hung out to dry with the awful line 'there was no money to pay for these projects in the first place'. Imagine Ken saying that!

As far as I'm concerned, only an absolute fool would scrap Crossrail now. Although that might just be lending weight to your concerns!

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

You have got to be kidding me! They can't bloody scrap it?!?

Not that the Tories were ever getting my vote but this may energise non-Tory voters in the LDN.

Anonymous said...

Their manifesto says they support it and now they say they have supported it and might not continue to. Isn't it traditional for parties to get elected before breaking manifesto promises? Poor show.

Anothertom said...

i thought the point all along was to get crossrail as far advanced as possible ahead of the election so that it became unscrappable come the time for cuts?

AdamB said...

Yes and that is the biggest factor that would stop them from scrapping it altogether - it's too far advanced.

However, it wouldn't stop them from taking chunks out of it and from delaying it, which is perhaps the most likely scenario. Who knows, all bets appear to be off right now.

Karl said...

They seem to have seen the books for everything else, why not this? Is Boris stopping them or something?

Anonymous said...

"only an absolute fool would scrap Crossrail"

Unfortunately we have one running London at the moment.

Anonymous said...

The whole crossrail project was a gravy train, no doubt being a premium service to the existing services and infrastructure already in place, hence only for those that are willing to pay the extra will travel on it. so will all this public money be used for the lucky individuals who have there expences picked up by there employers?