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
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links