View from the chamber: Troubled TfL’s finances

Cllr Michael Maurice says TfL was in trouble before Covid.

Cllr Michael Maurice says TfL was in trouble before Covid. - Credit: Archant

As I write this another young life has been taken, this time in Brent, because of the scourge of knife crime.

Under Mayor Sadiq Khan, fatal stabbings in London hit an 11-year high in 2019. Last year alone there were 160,000 knife crimes, assaults and violent offences in London.

I don’t have any further details, but my heart and condolences go out to his parents, family and friends.

We are now in the middle of the second lockdown, however some people seem to think it doesn’t apply to them going about their business, and apart from the entertainment and hospitality industries, everything else appears business as usual.

May I remind you all that the virus is still with us, the infection rate is growing, as is the number of people dying from it. We all have our part to play in minimising the spread of this disease.

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Covid-19 has dramatically changed our lives, possibly forever. The way we work, the way we play, the way we learn has all changed quite dramatically over the past eight months or so.

Many people who worked in offices can now do the same work from home due to apps like Zoom and Teams. This is a double edged sword - on the one hand, it means an end to commuting, being squashed in trains, waiting in inclement weather for buses, and of course the not-insubstantial costs involved.

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Companies too could save a lot of money by downsizing their offices or even not having offices at all.

But there is also a downside to this - people’s mental health and reality.

For people working from home, the distinction between work life and home life is often blurred because few people are able to switch off completely at the end of their day, especially if their work space is the same as their living space.

Another thing is that we miss the face-to-face contact with our colleagues, the office banter, even just saying good morning to your friends and colleagues as you get your coffee. Life is no longer reality, it is virtual.

As the days grow shorter, this can only worsen people’s mental health. Employers have a responsibility towards the health and safety of their staff and this includes their mental health.

I do hope that bosses take this into account when deciding the future of their premises.

Sadiq Khan blames Covid for the huge deficit TfL has and why he needs a second bailout.

The fact is, TfL were in financial trouble before the first lockdown, to nearly £12 billion. That the government has now given TfL £3.3 billion to compensate for the reduction in revenue seems to have conveniently slipped his mind. The government will cover the cost of Covid, not the cost of Khan.

Sorry to say Mr Khan, but this new way of working will probably mean less income from passengers for some time to come, possibly even forever.

TfL has wasted billions, including over £5 billion on Crossrail delays and hundreds of TfL staff with salaries over £100,000.

He claims that he’s seen off the governments’ demands for extending the Congestion Charge to the North and South Circular Roads, but I predict that if Mr Khan is re-elected as mayor next year, the Congestion Charge will be extended to the suburbs of London and that will affect millions of people, including the very poorest in our society.

I sign off wishing a happy and healthy Diwali to all the Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist communities.

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