Gvmt threatens to take direct control of Transport for London

21 Oct 2020

The UK government has told the Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn that it will take over the management of Transport for London (TfL) if he does not accept its demands as part of a new bailout deal.

According to the Financial Times on Wednesday, in return for a second rescue package, transport secretary Grant Shapps has set out a number of demands including a hike in council tax, an enlarged congestion charge zone and higher fares.

Mr Shapps wrote in a letter: “We will be taking reserve legislative powers allowing us if necessary to direct TfL. This would be combined with a further series of short-term funding settlements.” 

Earlier this year, the government “handed over £1.6bn to see TfL through an initial six month period, but with no sign of passenger numbers returning, the transport operator is seeking an additional package to fill the hole in its finances,” reported City AM.

In response to the letter, Mr Khan said on Wednesday morning: “The Government should be supporting Londoners through this difficult time – not making ill-advised and draconian proposals which will choke off our economic recovery.”

He continued: “Ministers already forced TfL to bring forward proposals to increase the cost and hours of the congestion charge in May – now they want to expand it to cover four million more Londoners.”

Meanwhile, Mick Cash, General Secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, said: “The speculation that the government are threatening to take direct control of TfL sounds like more bullying by this administration designed to impose their will on Londoners and ride roughshod over local democracy.”