Borough cries foul at funding axe

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham is to fight mayor Boris Johnson's decision not to back a Docklands Light Railway (DLR) extension to Dagenham Dock.

Last week, Johnson confirmed that Transport for London (TfL) will not fund the project, which is seen as vital to the 11,000-home Barking Riverside scheme identified by the DCLG and the London Plan as a priority Thames Gateway project.

Council leader Charles Fairbrass said: "Without the DLR, this regional economic change will not happen." He added that consent for Barking Riverside stipulates a maximum of 1,500 homes without the extension. The council will lobby government minister Liam Byrne.

Barking Riverside director Stephen Oakes said he is confident that a funding solution can be found. "This scheme is vital not just for Barking Riverside but for east London and the Thames Gateway," he added.

The decision was revealed in TfL's ten-year business plan last week. Other significant projects that will not be funded include the Thames Gateway Bridge, the cross-river tram and a Croydon Tramlink extension. A total of £60 million has been spent on the projects to date.

The mayor insisted that the projects still require more than £3 billion funding that London cannot afford. TfL said its programme of work will save £2.4 billion. This includes tube upgrades, Crossrail and London Overground extensions, smoothing traffic flows and cycling and walking initiatives.

But the London Assembly Labour group reacted furiously to the move. Transport committee chairwoman Val Shawcross said: "It seems that poorer areas of London and the outer boroughs most in need of public transport links just do not feature in the mayor's vision."

The news came as it was revealed that the mayor has asked Greenwich, Barking and Dagenham and Newham to raise affordable home building rates by 117, 130 and 197 per cent respectively.

Greenwich leader Chris Roberts commented: "The cancellation of transport projects makes it highly unlikely these targets can be reached. It suggests one part of City Hall does not know what the other is doing."

Responding to claims last month that he would drop the DLR extension, Johnson's spokesman declared that he was "incredulous about claims that he was pulling the plug on schemes in poorer areas" (Planning, 17 October, p6).

MAYOR SPARKS ROW BY DITCHING BRIDGE PLAN

London mayor Boris Johnson's move to scrap the proposed Thames Gateway Bridge has come under attack.

London Assembly Labour group deputy leader John Biggs said: "This is a stab in the back for residents whose transport needs far outweigh the minority opposition to the bridge."

London Borough of Greenwich leader Chris Roberts called it a "shocking position for a London mayor to take".

In May, Johnson said the current proposal will not be pursued. This was confirmed in Transport for London's (TfL) ten-year business plan last week. The move was welcomed by green groups.

TfL's plans for the six-lane road bridge were rejected following a public inquiry last year (Planning, 3 August 2007, p6). The DCLG aimed to reopen the inquiry next year.

PROJECT COSTS AND SPEND TO DATE

- Thames Gateway Bridge: - cost £500m; spend - £32m (£350m pledged in private finance credits)

- Cross-river tram: cost - £1.3bn; spend - £19m

- Croydon Tramlink extension: cost - £170m; spend - £4m

- DLR Dagenham Dock extension: cost - £750m; spend - £5m

Total spend to date: £60m.


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