London Mayor's road tolls plan to pay for Hammersmith Bridge

London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s road tolls plan to pay for £141m Hammersmith Bridge repairs comes after he wasted £10BILLION on ‘wasteful TfL spending’ says Tory rival

  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan accused of planning road tolls to claw back millions
  • Shaun Bailey, says the Mayor has chalked up nearly £10bn of ‘wasteful spending’
  • Hammersmith Bridge closed to traffic in April last year after cracks were found 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has been accused of planning road tolls to claw back millions ‘wasted’ on fat cat transport managers’ salaries and gold-plated pensions.

His Tory rival in the Mayoral election next May, Shaun Bailey, says the Mayor has chalked up nearly £10bn of ‘wasteful spending’ at Transport for London (TfL) and is looking to motorists to help meet the deficit.

Mr Bailey’s comments were sparked after Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor for transport floated the idea of tolls when discussing the hugely expensive repairs to Hammersmith Bridge.

The 1887 structure, closed to traffic in April last year after cracks were discovered in its cast-iron plinths, will cost £141million to fix and will be closed for six years – even though it took the Victorians only half that time to build.

Hammersmith Bridge (pictured) was closed to traffic in April last year after cracks were discovered in its cast-iron plinths

Ms Alexander said ‘some form of toll may be required’ to make the bridge financially viable.

‘I recognise that if we’re going to find a solution to funding this bridge then we need to look at all options,’ she said.

Conservative candidate Mr Bailey said: ‘Sadiq Khan racked up £9.56 billion of wasteful spending at TfL, forcing the government to bail him out twice in the space of a few months.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan (pictured) has been accused of planning road tolls to claw back millions ‘wasted’ on fat cat transport managers’ salaries and gold-plated pensions

‘Now his transport czar is talking about putting tolls on London’s roads. This is an attempt to make Londoners pay for Sadiq Khan’s mismanagement.

‘Tolls on our roads would destroy businesses and lead to an exodus of people. Sadiq Khan should cut waste and take on his union buddies — not punish Londoners for his failures.’

It comes after Mr Bailey has also hit out at Mr Khan in an interview with David Walliams for GQ Magazine.

His Tory rival in the Mayoral election next May, Shaun Bailey (pictured in Stoke Newington, London) says the Mayor has chalked up nearly £10bn of ‘wasteful spending’ at Transport for London (TfL) and is looking to motorists to help meet the deficit

Asked by the Britain’s Got Talent judge if he thought Mr Khan was ‘taking crime seriously enough’, he said: ‘I think he has a blind spot about it. 

‘He’ll talk about the causes of crime, but he won’t talk about how it’s cool, often, to be a criminal. He won’t talk about the trauma of knife crime.’  

Mr Bailey also described how he would tackle knife crime on a bigger scale, adding: ‘You make people who carry knives have the impression that they could get caught. Scan and search. 

‘Imagine you got off the train at King’s Cross… the police could scan that whole crowd.’ 

Mr Bailey also hit out at London Mayor Sadiq Khan in an interview with David Walliams for GQ Magazine

TfL has twice received government bailouts totalling around £3.4bn since the pandemic began to replace lost revenue and keep London moving – and TfL from effectively going bankrupt.

There has already been speculation from observers that airport and road tolls might be inevitable to plug the gap in TfL’s finances.

Mr Bailey has estimated that putting tolls on Hammersmith Bridge would cost residents who depend on the crossing around £24.1m a year. His £3.00 estimated charge for crossing was based on the proposed TfL toll for a controversial new tunnel under the Thames at Silvertown, east London.

The 1887 structure will cost £141million to fix and will be closed for six years – even though it took the Victorians only half that time to build

Mr Bailey criticised the Mayor for allowing a ‘gold-plated’ pension scheme to continue at TfL, under which the employer contributes 31 per cent of their salary into the pot – far more than staff receive under the Local Government Pensions scheme, which includes police and City Hall employees.

Bridge timeline – why will it take so long? 

Stage one: Start ferry contract – 66 working days (three months) after funding is released. It won’t start until spring next year

Then: Four months to ‘understand’ condition of the bridge’s pedestals at a cost of £13.9m

Then: Emergency stabilisation work fir seven months at a cost of £13.9m

Then: Permanent stabilisation work, taking 21 months at a cost of £32m

Then: Bridge strengthening, taking 30 months, for £80m.

Total: 65 months, or five years and five months

This still falls short of the projected six and a half year timeline 

Mr Bailey also claimed that contrary to Mr Khan’s claims to a Parliamentary committee, the number of TfL staff being paid more than £100,000 had increased under his tenure by 99 people to 557 in the latest financial year.

Added Mr Bailey: ‘Sadiq Khan promised to “cut the flab” from TfL. But since he became Mayor, executive pay has increased by £10m.

‘He told Parliament that he cut the number of TfL staff earning over £100,000 – when in reality it increased by nearly 100 people.

‘Whether he lied to Parliament or whether he just can’t manage TfL efficiently, Londoners deserve better.’

The TfL annual report shows that although the number of people earning ‘base salaries’ of more than £100,000 has dropped from 188 to 156 since the Mayor took over in 2016, a total of 557 people were paid more than that figure last year when overtime and one-off severance payments were included.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: ‘The sole cause of the financial challenge facing TfL and every other transport provider in the UK is the COVID-19 crisis.

‘Despite his predecessor leaving him a legacy of £9bn of TfL debt, Sadiq has dramatically slowed TfL’s rate of borrowing and hugely improved its finances during his Mayoralty, reducing its operating deficit by 71 per cent and increasing cash balances by 13 per cent.

‘Since Sadiq took office, the number of TfL staff on £100k+ salaries has dropped, and TfL has tightly controlled pay over this term.

‘Going after the employment conditions of those people who heroically kept London moving throughout the pandemic now would be nothing short of cruel.’ 

Read the full feature in the December issue of GQ, available via digital download and on newsstands now https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/politics/article/shaun-bailey-interview-david-walliams. 

Buildings that took less time to construct than the Hammersmith Bridge repairs

The Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai, UAE

A high speed bullet train crosses the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge 

Empire State Building, New York: One year and 45 days

Eiffel Tower, Paris: Two years, two months and five days

Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge (the world’s longest bridge), on the Beijing-Shangahi high-speed railway: Four years

Burj Khalifa, Dubai: Six years

Buildings that took MORE time:

Great Pyramid of Giza: 20 years 

Stonehenge, UK: 1500 years 

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