Business chiefs warn part privatisation of Tube may be on line

LONDON BUSINESS leaders warned yesterday that the pounds 7bn part privatisation of the Underground system may not happen.

The warning came as a coalition of business groups representing more than 6,000 firms in London urged the mayoral candidates in next May's elections to make transport their top priority.

John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, has pledged to get contracts signed by next April allowing private consortia to take over responsibility for maintenance and upgrading of the Underground system, although the operation of services will remain with London Underground.

But Lord Sheppard, the chairman of London First and former chairman of Grand Metropolitan, said he shared the views of those who doubted that the public-private partnership (PPP) for the Tube would happen.

Simon Sperryn of the London Chamber of Commerce added: "Many of us are sceptical about whether the proposals the Government has made will come off."

The Government has struck a deal with Railtrack to take over the Underground's sub-surface lines and last month London Transport announced a short list of five bidders for the deep Tube lines.

But there are doubts about whether the timetable can be met. Both Lord Archer, the Conservative candidate for mayor, and Ken Livingstone who is seeking to become Labour's candidate, are opposed to the PPP.

Publishing a "Business Manifesto" for the mayoral elections, Lord Sheppard said the most important issue facing the successful candidate would be to get London's transport system working. "If you scratch most members of the business community then you find that transport is right up there as the top priority," he said. He called for public funding of pounds 200m to pounds 300m a year for transport but he said this should not necessarily be used to cut charges as Mr Livingstone did with his "fair's fair" policy in the 1980s.

"Slashing prices is not necessarily the best way of giving people what they want," said Lord Sheppard. "Customers would rather have better busses than cheaper buses."

The manifesto drawn up by London First, the Confederation of British Industry and the London Chamber of Commerce, calls on the mayoral candidates to set achievable targets in seven key areas ranging from economic development and transport to policing and the environment.

It does not contain targets itself but the chairman of the London Business Board, Michael Frye, said that if necessary business would do so and hold the mayor and the newly elected Greater London Authority to account.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - City, London

£50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence