Via London Reconnections, I note that the answers to the last Mayor’s Questions are now up on the GLA website.  Rather quicker than before, I think, which bodes well.  Let’s pick out a few of the ones we highlighted before they were asked:

1. Valerie Shawcross asked about the retendering of bus routes 38, 507 and 521 – the first three bendy bus routes to debendify.  Boris confirms that the usual retendering consultation process will be followed.  It’ll be interesting if this results in the views of passenger Dave Cole being taken into account.  It’ll be even more interesting if debendification happens contrary to the views of passengers, as this will set a precedent for other consultations, like the Western Extension.

2. Navin Shah asked about Brian Coleman – did Boris share his opinion of the ‘bigoted old farts’ at the LGA?  Simple answer – ‘No’.  Good.  Now why was he promoted to chair the LFEPA then?

3. Nicky Gavron on the thorny subject of reconciling sharing power with the boroughs with the central plans for 50,000 units of social housing.  There was an oral answer, which means I’ll have to dig out the webcast or wait until it’s transcribed.

4. Murad Qureshi on the Chinese Culture Question – Red Boris now claims he was taken out of context from, er, his own book.  In truth this often happens because Boris chooses a rhetorical style that spends most of the time arguing the opposite of what he believes.

5. Jenny Jones breaching the thorny subject of gyratory replacement.  Bad for the motorist, good for London  – which way will Boris jump?  We get a regulation nothing-given-away answer, but at least it’s not ‘I’ve binned the feasibility study to reduce the pressure on the poor motorist’.  See the Parliament Square answer below for where this leads to an inconsistency.

6. Jenny Jones again on the 100 public spaces programme – how many of the ten scheduled for this year have been cancelled?  Answer – none, they’re all going ahead.  So that wasn’t particularly cancelled then, was it, just reduced in size rather.

7. Mike Tuffrey probing around the fractured Boris/LBHF interface.  The answer is interesting.

I do not wish to see untreated sewage going in to our city’s proud and normally clean river and I cannot think that anyone would really wish to see such a situation continue.

This reads very much as a smackdown to LBHF – Boris is backing the tunnel and the EU water quality directive it’s intended to meet, and on which LBHF are apparently attacking the need for the project.  Not listening to the boroughs now and going for the best environmental option regardless of cost, Red Boris?

8. Caroline Pidgeon asks about the East London Line Extension.  The project is still on time and on budget, which is great news for TfL, as it’s one fewer black holes.  London Reconnections report the first train is moving, albeit on a test track, and should enter service early in the new year, which answers my ‘where the hell is it’ question.

9. Caroline asks about the Supplementary Business Rate for Crossrail, which needs Parliamentary approval.  Red Boris answers that he is committed to taxing businessmen to pay for public transport.  The old leftie.

10. Caroline asks about the supposed ‘Emergency Rail Summit’ that was going to happen in the summer, but hasn’t.  Clear case of Boris not sticking to his announcements, and there’s no explanation of why, just:

My Transport Advisor has met with the Chair of ATOC to discuss the summit and it is still my intention to convene a meeting later in the year.

Leaving it to Kulveer, Boris?  Stop delegating already.  I think we can declare this as officially an unmet, dead promise.  I want my PAYG on SWT and I want it now.  Give me a date.

11. Caroline springs the Red Arrow question – how do you replace bendy buses on routes 507 and 521.  The answer confirms everything we’ve said here – the retrograde step of going back to rigid single deckers of smaller capacity, like the ones that operated on the routes before usage went through the roof.

TfL has reviewed routes 507 and 521 and is consulting stakeholders on a proposal to operate each route with 12m long single deck buses. TfL also propose that the frequency of each route be reviewed so that sufficient passenger capacity continues to be provided.

The next question, if any LAs are reading, is to find out the rate of increase in bus usage on those routes post-congestion charge and bendy introduction, in order that we can estimate just how many replacement buses will be required.  The frequency is every five minutes on the 507 and every three minutes on the 521, which means something absurd like a bus every 150-180 seconds on the latter in peak periods when it debendifies.

12. East London Line Phase 2 – the funding for this still hasn’t been sorted out over the summer and it’s getting silly.  Three separate questions were asked on this and the answer’s the same as the one we got in July and June.  Thought – is Kulveer Ranger doing the negotiations based on his published record of negotiating with the Secretary of State?

13. Parliament Square – why does Boris want to keep it as a busy roundabout instead of an important world heritage site?  For the oppressed minority of motorists, apparently:

My principal concerns were around traffic impacts, the overall cost of the scheme and funding, and loss of green space in the design. We are looking at ways of improving the square without affecting traffic flow and thereby improving the setting for the Westminster World Heritage Site.

Utterly pathetic.  You can’t improve the square without taking measure to reduce the traffic, the green space is pointless if its unreachable inside a roundabout and his attitude sucks.  Get a grip.

Overall, I make that four questions answered satisfactorily, four answered unsatisfactorily, one isn’t published yet and the rest are so-so, neither good nor bad.  Hardly the triumph some were trumpeting, even if he is getting better at it.

 
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