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I am given the news that a consultant paid by Centro has said at the public enquiry into transport that Electroliners (aka Trolley Coaches, aka Trolley buses) are not cost effective.


This, of course, not news. News would be when a consultant paid by Centro said something that centro did not agree with. If someone is paid to write a report they generally write what they are asked to write. The payer of the piper may wave around the report saying "this report agrees with me", but that is generally meaningless.


The other substantial issue that arose at the Cabinet Meeting was the PFI scheme into roads. The PFI scheme is essentially getting the roads improved on Hire Purchase. The headlines look quite good. The City Council gets a "PFI credit" of £379 Million (over 25 years). Indeed it might be good for the city. However, the city loses £175 Million of Local Transport Plan funding and also has to commit to paying out around £50 million a year (index linked) to a private contractor. The figures for this have not been checked. £50 Million a year is about a fifth of the council tax revenues. The problem is that the whole story has not yet been told so it has not been checked. Hence the argument about scrutiny.


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Standards Board and Ken Livingstone

The link is to the case where Ken Livingstone appealed the decision of the Adjudication Panel for England. The Standards Board and associated Adjudication Panel have done a lot of damage to democracy in the UK. The courts are, however, bringing them into more sanity. The point about Ken Livingstone's case is that it was high profile and he also could afford to appeal. The Standard Board has a problem in that those subject to its enquiries face substantial costs that they cannot claim back. This is an issue that needs further work. In essence the Judge found that what he said brought him into disrepute, but not the office of Mayor. We do need the machinery of the SBE and APE to concentrate on things that matter rather than people being rude to each other.