Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bob Kiley's Television Blues

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bob Kiley's Television Blues

Article excerpt

LAST NIGHT'S Channel 4 documentary by the former head of Transport for London, New Yorker Bob Kiley, was illuminating. Memorably, during the course of an indictment of the capital's transport system, he remarked: "What amazes me is how you British put up with this. You seem to have got used to being herded like cattle." To which the obvious response is, what choice is there?

London's public transport users might also retort that they paid him [pounds sterling]2.4 million over four years to sort out this mess, and he failed - though in fairness, resolving the underlying problems was probably beyond even Mr Kiley's powers. He feels that there is a more deserving target for London commuters' grievances - the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown. And in this he is correct. Mr Kiley makes the astonishing, but credible, claim that during his five-year tenure as head of Transport for London, "I must have tried 50 times to talk to Gordon Brown. I didn't get so much as a phone conversation".

The former transport supremo is referring to the Chancellor's insistence that the financing of the Tube should be through his Public Private Partnership scheme, rather than funded up-front by the Treasury, or through the Mayor's alternative of issuing bonds. The PPP scheme has produced the hideously complex and one-sided contracts between London Underground and the two companies responsible for maintaining the Tube that underlie so many of the problems commuters now face.

Mr Kiley's chutzpah is galling. But he usefully reminds us of the Chancellor's indifference to the transport problems of the capital - something we should not forget as Mr Brown repackages himself as a prime-minister-in-waiting.

Housing creep

LONDON and the South-East is already one of the most densely populated areas of Europe. So, few people already living here are likely to welcome today's recommendation from the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank, that the Government should double the amount of housing already planned for the region: it calls for more than 200,000 new homes by 2016, and for extra investment in the infrastructure needed to serve them. …

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