A board member of Transport for London (TfL) must step aside from discussions to prevent a conflict of interest with the proposed cross-city cycle superhighways, says the London Cycling Campaign.
Peter Anderson, Finance Director of Canary Wharf Group PLC, which has produced reports condemning the cycle superhighways’ effects on traffic and the city’s economy, is also on TfL’s board. Anderson is Chair of TfL’s Finance and Policy Committee, which will decide in November whether the segregated cycle routes get the funding to proceed.
Andrew Gilligan, London’s Cycling Commissioner said this morning, during a scheduled transport committee meeting in City Hall, legal advice is being sought on Anderson’s position.
Gilligan said: “TfL does have processes in place under the statutory requirements of the GLA Act, where there is a conflict at board a member can be [excluded] from discussion.”
Rosie Downes, Campaigns Manager at London Cycling Campaign, said: “There is a very clear conflict of interest here. Thousands of Londoners have responded in support of the superhighway proposals; the Mayor of London has said himself that it’s time to reallocate road space; companies like RBS, Orange and Unilever have publicly supported the plans.
“Yet despite the overwhelming support for the plans, they’re at risk because of one extremely powerful individual who sits on the Transport for London board – whose vision of London does not reflect in any way what the rest of us want to see.”
At this morning’s meeting Val Shawcross, Deputy Chair of the Transport Committee, said the Space for Cycling campaign has received cross-party support in the capital and it is a shame to see opposition, adding it is important the routes are done right first time to avoid them being removed or changed at a later date. She said of Anderson’s conduct in discussions about the cycle routes: “To be fair to Mr. Anderson, he did behave absolutely properly.”
The influential Cyclists in the City blogger, Danny Williams, ran stories on this conflict of interest, after the Canary Wharf Group admitted to the latter it was behind a previously anonymous briefing against the cycle routes.
The Canary Wharf report asserts the routes would “take up large amounts of road space,” and that “the current four lane highway will be reduced to two lanes” when this was only the case for a few hundred metres of the 18 mile route. It adds the E-W route would “seriously impact the view of London as a place to do business”, a point contested by the sheer support of the routes from business giants via the website cyclingworks.london.
TfL’s Transport Commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy, has told the Guardian the capital faces riots if the city’s transport capacity can’t match growth. With a cyclist taking up one fifth of the space of a car on the road, and with the relatively low cost of cycle infrastructure, the LCC says the bicycle is key to London’s future.
The Mayor’s Official Spokesman said: “The interests of Transport for London Board members are set out in the Declarations of Interest section on the TfL website. In addition board members are asked to declare an interest at the beginning of every meeting and TfL has processes in place in accordance with the statutory requirements in the GLA Act for dealing with potential conflicts of interest at those meetings.
“Where appropriate, this will include Board members taking no part in the decision on an item being considered by the Board.”