When a Tory politician, whose greatest achievement to date is beating Ken Livingstone in the most recent London Mayoral election, starts getting attacked by Maily Telegraph London Editor Andrew Gilligan, you know that he’s dropped the baton.
Because today, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, occasional Mayor of London and regular collector of “chicken feed” from that same Maily Telegraph, has effectively directed Transport for London (TfL) to spray over 50 million notes up the wall on another vanity project, the cable car linking somewhere near the O2 Arena with somewhere near the ExCeL centre.
And, with the scales dropping from his eyes, Gilligan has realised that, for all these years, he’s championed Bozza faithfully – even holding his tongue on the shortcomings of the BorisBus, the original exercise in mayoral vanity – and that he’s been had.
Despite all the talk of the private sector coming forward and putting up the money for the cable car, no company or consortium wanted to touch it. So the bill will be borne by the capital’s council tax payers, with the promise that the naming rights and other sponsorship deals will bring the prospect of “jam tomorrow”.
Moreover, the cost has now risen yet again. Even if the 50.5 million total has had three years’ operating costs factored in (at a total of 4.5 million), the construction cost has increased by six million since last December, when I noted that the original cost estimate of 25 million had already been exceeded by 15 million.
The capacity of the link, as I also discussed in December, is nowhere near the figures being touted (likely to be 1,200 one way per hour, not 2,500), the journey can be done within one Zone right now by Tube and DLR (so punters are likely to be put off by premium fares), and when there are no events on the go at O2 or ExCeL, there will be little demand that the existing links can’t handle.And while Bozza has been busy with his vanity projects, Londoners could for instance have had the Cross River Tram, which would have brought benefits to the whole community, not just a few tourists. Plus, now that even Gilligan realises he’s been taken for a fool, things might start to get a little bumpy for Boris. Crikey chaps!