Sunday, March 21, 2010

Newbury Gardens

[Click on graphic for the before]

Ron has sent in a photograph [above] of the newly refurbished Newbury Park Tube Station complete with grass, saplings and a patio. But no lifts, I’m afraid. Here is his full letter to the Ilford Recorder.
We are delighted to hear that three new passenger lifts are now operational at Hainault Station. Sadly, a similar project started a year ago at Newbury Park Station ground to a halt.

Since the announcement last November by Transport for London that they were unable to continue the work at Newbury Park because funding was not available, I have written three letters to Boris Johnson, Mayor of London and Chairman of Tfl, one of which I handed to him personally during his visit to the Borough on 2nd December. To date I have had no reply, not even an acknowledgement, which I am old-fashioned enough to believe is discourteous.

Richard Parry, Managing Director of London Underground, has had the courtesy to reply. In his first letter he claimed that the financial impact of Metronet's collapse meant that they had to defer a number of step-free schemes, including the one at Newbury Park. I pointed out that Metronet went into administration in 2007 and this was known when work commenced at Newbury Park some two years later in early 2009. In a second letter he has acknowledged that the collapse of Metronet did not alone lead to the stopping of work at Newbury Park.

The partially completed work at Newbury Park has been scrapped and replaced near the ticket office by saplings, grass and a patio. This leaves passengers to wonder who will cut the grass and pick up the litter that has already started to accumulate? Will deck chairs be provided for those who wish to sit on the grass and the patio, or is this area reserved for the enjoyment of the 160 or so members of Tfl staff who are each paid over six figure salaries to start expensive projects that they must surely know there is no money in the kitty to complete?

Let's hope that the cash does not run out before the revamp at Gants Hill is completed.

Ron Jeffries


  1. Well, as long as able-bodied people can take a walk in the new area and enjoy the saplings that's ok then isn't it!

    How much would it have cost to complete the works? does anyone know?

  2. How much would it have cost to complete the works? You must be joking if you think Tfl will reveal that kind of information! Nor will they tell us how much they spent doing the initial work nor how much it cost to undo it all and plant out the grass and patio!
    Hey Ho! What disasters will befall the poor Tax Payer next?

  3. What disasters will befall the poor Tax Payer next? How about the gross over-expenditure yet to be revealed on the unwanted fraud called the Olympic Games 2012?

  4. If my memory serves me right, I read recently that when the polluted soil was removed from the Olympic site in Stradford, they only dug a couple of feet and installed a membrane.
    So whoever would wish to build on the site after 2012 will have to remove the polluted subsoil, virtually from scratch.

  5. My word, what a lot we have to thank Ken Livingstone for!!!!!

  6. You can't blame the financial scam PPP on him. That was er......

  7. Oh! I thought it was his good friend and neighbour?

  8. The PPP on London Underground operated from January 2003 to May 2008. Google it and read the Wiki result. TB was PM from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007.

    HH isn't correct all the time - she only thinks she is!

  9. I am not disputing who was “sitting on the throne” at the time, but questioning who was the power behind it? The slip of the tongue by HH revealed a “correctness” that she was and is party to.

  10. I'm not convinced that GB would have been in any way eager about PPP. By its very nature it would be anathema to his particular brand of politics. He might have promoted it for only one reason - to demonstrate to KL who was boss.

  11. Hmmmm! My recollection of the time was that it was a battle between GB and KL. But I’m intrigued by your assertion that it was “an anathema to his [GBs] particular brand of politics”. I’m not sure what his [GBs] brand is but could you explain and enlighten me/us as to what you mean?

  12. Fundamentally GB is a man of the left. I doubt that he would favour instinctively the involvement of the private sector in the provision of public service.

    As it happens I think that history, and the way this particular fiasco developed, may have proved KL to be right in opposing it in the form that the government favoured, and imposed.

  13. On your latter point I agree.
    On the former I am not sure that GB is a "man of the left" as opposed to "a man for himself". The cynic might say there is no distinction, given history, but in this case there may well be a factor of being conned by a financial scam. Puts the mis-selling of mortgages into context dunnit?

  14. Wow! As my old Mum used to say: "I'll go to the foot of our stairs!"
    Who would have thought that a letter from little old me about Newbury Park Station would spark off an erudite discussion between two well-known and much respected worthies of the Borough?
    I can only sit here at my desk and smile.
    But I will not be here for long, for I am off on my next campaign - flytipping! Watch this space!
    Ron Jeffries

  15. Anyone wanting to read more about the PPP scheme for London Underground and what it costs us should read Christian Wolmar's excellent book The subterranean railway (Atlantic Books 2004) - on page 310 he says "The complexities of the scheme are such that it cost £500m to create the contracts." (I can't find the reference but I think the same author wrote more detail in "Down the tube")

    That's money for City Lawyers - and if they weren't rich before they are now. In June 2004 the National Audit Office published two reports which said there was only "limited assurance" that the price of the contracts was reasonable. Prophetic words.

    The man behind was indeed Gordon Brown, though inspired by John Prescott, naturally Tony Blair went along with it all.

    Ken Livingstone was right to oppose the PPP deal, it's a pity he didn't oppose the Olympic plan which is costing the average London Council tax payer £140 in extra Council tax. (See the Taxpayer's Alliance report on the Olympics - one report they got right.)

    Prestige projects and politicians are a recipe for disaster and the Olympics is one of the biggest. KL and TB in cahoots together wasn't good news.

    Roger Backhouse

  16. The only amendment I would make to Roger's comments above is a change from 'prestige projects' to 'VANITY projects'.

  17. Thanks for the clarification, Roger. "Tony Blair went along with it all"; so a bit like the Iraq war decision then.

    TB was PM at the time, and it is becoming increasingly clear that, in cabinet, he either agreed with things or vetoed them. This means for me, having served in the local cabinet, that he carries the can for the PPP. As for Prescot agreeing, that would be even more out of character than GB agreeing unless, of course, JP had been "well entertained" before the decision was taken in cabinet.

    Whatever the background the decision was a total disaster - and a very costly one at that. Far from mirroring the arrangement with London bus services (which some have claimed it does) the effect is the precise reverse. It would have been somewhat like the old London Transport Executive continuing to operate the buses whilst they contracted out the road network, bus stops and traffic lights. The government were simply desperate to put right the old GLC's failure under Livingstone to make significant capital investment in the system - and to have it all signed and sealed before KL could scupper it.

    What an expensive disaster. That, the Olympics, wars, all add up to incompetence in whelk-stall management.

  18. GB was practically the only person in favour of the form of PPP imposed on the tube. It was opposed by the Conservatives, LibDems and Livingstone. GB liked it for two reasons:

    The first was that it was off balance sheet financing i.e. it concealed the true and astronomical level of government borrowing, albeit at enormous cost (and not just in legal fees). This appealed to GB precisely because he is, as Morris says, a man of the left: it was a way of borrowing more which he could then spend on pet projects he could micro-manage and the exponential expansion of the state.

    The second was control freakery pure and simple - PPP tied the london mayoralty down over a very long period of time, thus making a mockery of any supposed localism or devolution of power. Given that the first london mayor looked like being Ken Livingstone (ie someone not run by the Blair-Brown pushmi-pullyu) or possibly an outside chance it might be a Tory there was never any chance that GB would be willing to allow the mayor to have any influence over decisions like that, let alone take them.