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A reality check on Ken Livingstone's Labour Conference speech

Ken Livingstone spoke at the Labour Party Conference this morning.

How do his mean points measure up against reality?

1. LIVINGSTONE'S CLAIM: Boris has gone back on his promise to protect ticket office hours

THE REALITY: Ken Livingstone planned to close 40 ticket offices across London. Boris is not closing one a single one as he promised. All stations which currently have a ticket office will continue to have one. However, ticket office opening hours are being reduced as in many fewer than seven tickets an hour are sold at a window. Their opening hours will be at times of peak demand. Stations will always be staffed when trains are running and staff will be out from behind the glass screens to help passengers.

2. LIVINGSTONE'S CLAIM: Boris should be meeting the Tube unions, who striked a fortnight ago and are threatening to strike next week.

THE REALITY: Livingstone NEVER met the unions when they were threatening a strike or on strike. There has been almost no time since Boris was elected that the unions have not been balloting or threatening strikes.

3.  LIVINGSTONE'S CLAIM. He criticised the plan to reduce the bus subsidy by 40 percent over the time of the TfL's business plan to 2017/18. He said it will affect the service and lead to "a race to the bottom" in drivers' terms and conditions. However, isn't the Mayor just implenting his stated policy of bearing down on bus operators to get a better deal for fare and taxpayers?

Also here is what Livingstone says a contradictory message in his own recently published Transport Manifesto:

One of the Tories’ election slogans was ‘We’re all in this together’. A real manifestation of this would be if, in this time of recession, the privatised bus companies (most of which are actually now run by European state-owned companies in France, Germany, and Holland) reduced their profit margins, so that we could maintain more bus services for Londoners. On average they make 7% a year, and with interest rates so low the real profit margin is probably higher at present. It shouldn’t just have to be the fare-payer and the tax-payer who take the strain of economic pressure. Cutting profit margins by just one or two per cent would release tens of millions of pounds for investment in bus services. I will press the bus companies for a fairer rate of profit so that bus services can be maintained and the burden can fall more equally.

4. LIVINGSTONE'S CLAIM. He has promised that fares will be lower under him than they would be if Boris wins.

THE REALITY: How can anyone prove that?


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