Livingstone Has Lost the Plot over the Tube, Says LU Chief; MAYOR ACCUSED OF USING NETWORK AS A 'POLITICAL FOOTBALL'

By Blackhurst, Chris | The Evening Standard (London, England), July 8, 2003 | Go to article overview

Livingstone Has Lost the Plot over the Tube, Says LU Chief; MAYOR ACCUSED OF USING NETWORK AS A 'POLITICAL FOOTBALL'


Blackhurst, Chris, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: CHRIS BLACKHURST

KEN LIVINGSTONE has "lost the plot" in his dealings with London Underground and held up Tube improvements, according to the network's outgoing chief, Paul Godier.

Mr Godier marked his departure from his job as LU managing director by hitting back for the first time at the Mayor, who has repeatedly blamed senior officials for the system's failings.

He said Mr Livingstone's criticism of management was "unfair", adding: "To denigrate loyal public servants who can't fight back isn't on." The Tube was "a political football which the Mayor has chosen to kick. He's lost the plot".

Mr Godier's remarks highlight the difficulties he has had running the Tube for two years, and raise questions about Mr Livingstone's ability to manage effectively when Transport for London and Mr Godier's successor, US freight train boss Tim O'Toole, take command next week.

Mr Livingstone has labelled those in charge at LU "knuckleheads" for failing to improve the network. As well as Mr Godier and Bob Mason the human resources director, who have announced their departures, Mr Livingstone has revealed he is firing 10 LU executives and putting "on probation" 10 more.

"It's regrettable the Mayor should be denigrating one of London's crown jewels," said Mr Godier. "He should be talking up the things that are good - like the Tube."

Mr Godier is quitting his [pounds sterling]200,000a-year post for the job of chief executive at Bournemouth council and a large pay cut. He said of the staff he leaves behind: "They regard remarks the Mayor has made as unfair. They have pride - in some respects it's easier to take unfair criticism because you know the situation is not as bad as he claims."

Legal arguments from Mr Livingstone over the Public-Private Partnership, claimed Mr Godier, prevented investment reaching the service. "My regret about the last two years wrangling with the Mayor is the delay in getting cash into the system," he said. "His legal actions held up [pounds sterling]1billion that would have gone into the Tube by now. We could have been two years down the line of fixing the Tube."

In 1998, the Tube was running an operating surplus of more than [pounds sterling]250 million. This year, it is on course to make a deficit of [pounds sterling]250 million. Mr Godier said: "We choose to run at a loss to provide the service we provide."

The profit in 1998 was "at a time when accounting rules were different and we've embarked on a higher level of investment. We've not put fares up to pay for those costs".

He said customer surveys showed the Tube was improving. The last quarterly survey of 2,000 passengers showed a 78 per cent satisfaction rating, "our highest for 10 years". …

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