London news: Sadiq Khan accuses Boris Johnson of ‘lying’ over new TfL bailout | UK | News (Reports)

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A bitter blame-game broke out when Mr Khan condemned the Government for “ill-advised and draconian” plans for TfL in return for a second multi-billion pound bailout. The Mayor said ministers want TfL to expand the £15 Congestion Charge Zone to the North and South Circular roads in 12 months’ time, which would see the zone cover around four million more Londoners.

But Mr Johnson blamed Mr Khan for the price hikes and insisted any proposals to increase travel charges for Londoners were “entirely the responsibility” of the mayor.

The Government was also said to want to increase TfL fares by well above the inflation rate and remove free travel for under-18s.

Mr Johnson told the Commons: “The current Mayor of London had effectively bankrupted TfL before coronavirus had even hit and left a massive black hole in its finances.

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“Any need to make up that deficit is entirely down to him, it is entirely his responsibility.

“Any expansion of the congestion charge or any other measure taken to improve the finances of TfL are entirely the responsibility of the bankrupt current Labour Mayor of London.”

A furious Mr Khan responded by claiming the Prime Minister had misled Parliament.

The Mayor, who succeeded Mr Johnson in the position in May 2016, said: “The Prime Minister has lied to the House of Commons.

“Before COVID I was fixing his mess at TfL- reducing the deficit by 71 percent since 2016.

“COVID-19 is the sole cause of TfL’s challenges.”

READ MORE: Sadiq Khan sparks stand-off with Boris after rejecting No10 bailout

Mr Khan earlier told a meeting of TfL’s board that he intends to “stand firm and fight for a fair deal for Londoners”.

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He said: “TfL is being offered only another six months’ financial support, but with ill-advised and draconian conditions that are unfair to London, fall disproportionately on those least able to afford them, would undermine the economic recovery of our city, and contrast starkly with the support provided to the private train operating companies.

“This global pandemic will be with us for some time. We requested an 18-month support package to see TfL through the immediate crisis and the aftermath, as it is uncertain how quickly fare revenue will recover.”

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: “It’s extremely worrying that despite repeated requests, the Government is offering only a papering-over-the-cracks funding package for Transport for London, with such punitive conditions.”

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A London Labour Party spokesman said: “Sadiq Khan has spent four years cleaning up the financial mess that Boris Johnson created at TfL.

“While Boris Johnson was Mayor, fares increased by 42 percent, but TfL’s operating costs went up every year, its debt increased by £7billion, millions were wasted on vanity projects like the Garden Bridge and TfL’s Government grant was given away with no plan to replace it.

“In stark contrast, Sadiq brought TfL’s net deficit down by 71 percent over four years and increased its cash balances by 13 percent – all while freezing fares.

“The pandemic is the sole cause of the financial difficulties facing TfL and other transport providers across the world and anyone claiming otherwise simply does not understand the facts.”

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