Labour Candidate Slams Tories on Crossrail

After Shadow London Minister says it could be scrapped


Bassam Mahfouz canvassing outside Acton Main Line with Patricia Walker, Labour Acton Central Council candidate
Bassam Mahfouz canvassing outside Acton Main Line

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Labour's Parliamentary Candidate for Ealing Central & Acton (ECA) has roundly condemned the Conservatives for failing to back Crossrail.

Bassam Mahfouz says he believes the Conservatives would try and scrap the £16bn east-to-west rail link across the capital.

He made his views known after the Shadow London Minister, Justine Greening, told London's LBC radio that she "cannot guarantee" that the scheme would continue under the Conservatives.

Asked if this meant it could be scrapped altogether, Greening said:

"It's possible, but at the end of the day we've always said that we think it's an important project and actually the reason this is important is we want to be responsible, so we can't pretend that we can write an entire budget outside of government. We've said we'll do one within 50 days of getting into government if we get elected and we will then provide some clarity and certainty."

Greening's comments are likely to alarm Boris Johnson, the Tory mayor of London, who has repeatedly hailed Crossrail as a scheme which will create thousands of jobs and boost the capital's economy.

ECA Labour candidate Bassam Mahfouz has seized on the confusion. He said:

"Crossrail is an example of a project that not only maintains public investment but will reap huge rewards for our economy. It will add 10% to London's transport capacity, create 14,000 jobs in the construction period alone and add an estimated £20billion to London's economy. This in turn will bring huge benefits to the British economy and to the public finances.

"The benefits to Ealing and Acton of a successfully completed Crossrail are self-evident.

"Despite this, the Tories have failed to support the funding stream that took years for a Labour government to put together. The Shadow London Minister has confirmed in a radio interview with LBC’s Nick Ferrari that for the Conservatives, Crossrail is not a priority.

“ What we now know is a vote for Angie Bray and the Conservatives will be a vote to scrap Crossrail and to forget about improvements to Ealing Broadway, West Ealing and Acton Main Line stations for the foreseeable future.”

However Angie Bray, Conservative Parliamentary candidate for ECA said:

"Our policy has not changed. Crossrail remains a Conservative manifesto commitment and we fully support it because we know how important Crossrail is to London and to everyone in Ealing and Acton.

"If elected Crossrail will remain one of my top priorities as indeed it is for our Mayor, Boris Johnson.''

Meanwhile Jon Ball, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for ECA, said his party completely supported the scheme.

"Crossrail is vital for both residents and the economy of both Ealing and Acton and the Liberal Democrats locally and nationally entirely support the completion of the Crossrail project. We should be working to improve what Crossrail is offering, by ensuring that it integrates better with buses rather than questioning its funding.

"All too often politicians renege on manifesto commitments, but it is unusual that in this case the Tories are distancing themselves from their own manifesto commitment before the election!"

John Beeston, Chair of Ealing Passenger Transport Users Group says it would now cost more to cancel the Crossrail project than to go ahead with it.


April 21, 2010