Here’s an election pledge that Boris now dare not break

Boris Johnson, who four years ago scrapped a costed and funded scheme to build a Tramlink extension to Crystal Palace, this morning paid a flying visit to East Croydon station to have his picture taken alongside a tram with “Crystal Palace” showing on its destination board.

The part-time Mayor of London, who far prefers photo stunts to answering questions on policy at press conferences, swerved a previous picture opportunity earlier this month with Mike Fisher, the leader of Croydon Conservatives. But around 10 this morning, Boris blustered his way around and alongside one of the shiny new Stadler trams (too long for the original platforms on the Tramlink network) to make the point that, after a needless delay of four years, work might begin, some time, on building the first extension of tracks in 20 years.

The Crystal Palace extension was a Johnson election pledge made earlier this year, shortly after he heard his opponent for London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, had promised to reinstate the scheme which Boris had canned in 2008 and which had also been rejected on ground of cost as recently as November last year.

Boris Johnson, centre, does what he does best, smiles for the cameras, with Croydon Council leader Mike Fisher, left, and London Assembly Member, Steve O’Connell (second from right)

Having your picture taken with £2.5-million worth of tram with “Crystal Palace” on its front will be pretty difficult, even for Boris, to wriggle out of if he fails to deliver on this promise, which is estimated to cost at least £170 million to build.

In barely a month in office in his second term – with nearly half that time spent in America flogging his new book – Johnson has already back-pedalled faster than Lance Armstrong on steroids on two key promises contained within his nine-point plan “for a greater London”: he is now saying that he will not have 1,000 more police on the beat; and it turns out that his promised 10,000 new jobs for London involves counting the same jobs four times over, once for each year of his term.

The £200,000-a-year Daily Telegraph columnist’s somewhat cavalier attitude to his work as London Mayor seems to have been passed on to his new deputy, Stephen Greenhalgh, if this video of last week’s scheduled question session with the mayor’s right-hand man is anything to go by.

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1 Response to Here’s an election pledge that Boris now dare not break

  1. Jamie R says:

    “Having your picture taken with £2.5-million worth of tram with “Crystal Palace” on its front will be pretty difficult, even for Boris, to wriggle out of if he fails to deliver on this promise”

    True, although I expect the skeleton key that is “austerity” will unlock that little conundrum.

    During the election campaign I recall both Boris and Ken coming to Croydon and talking about the town’s status as London’s “third most important” location after the City and the Isle of Dogs. Both had plans to invest in the borough to help Croydon fully realise its potential. The difference was that Ken said to really have an impact and turn Croydon into an important, successful business district, the cost would be astronomical – half a billion or a billion. He talked about things like working hard in overseas economies to generate business and job creation in Croydon. Talking about such enormous sums isn’t easy because people will immediately be sceptical, but at least he was looking at it realistically and acknowledging what is really needed, then talking about things that can be done to move in the right direction.

    Boris pledged to invest £23 million into the borough, which is obviously not going to turn Croydon into Canary Wharf. It’s a figure that doesn’t really correlate with the theme of making Croydon a successful business district. Almost as if he hadn’t thought it through, and was just saying things people wanted to hear. I’m sure that wasn’t the case, of course.

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