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Mayoral candidate Dobson non-commital over LU plans


PRIVATE FINANCE plans for the London Underground have yet to win the backing of Frank Dobson, the latest entry in the race to become London Mayor.

Fielding questions during a press conference to announce he was quitting as Health Secretary to join the contest, he would not be drawn on whether he supported the Government's proposed public private partnership for the Underground network.

'The crucial thing is that everyone knows London Underground has been starved of investment,' said Dobson. 'No irrevocable decisions will be taken in the next year. There is no question of anyone making any changes that would make the Underground an unsafe network.'

But Dobson was immediately put on the spot when West Ham MP Tony Banks, arriving late to support the former Health Secretary's candidature, demanded: 'What are you going to do about signalling on the District and Circle Line?'

Dobson's campaign is to be run by housing and planning minister Nick Raynsford, who announced that he was running for Mayor himself just one week ago but is now standing down.

Speaking after the launch of Dobson's campaign, Raynsford denied that his recent flirtation with the mayoral campaign had damaged his political credibility. He added that Dobson's 'experience, values, commitment to London and ability to deliver' convinced him that 'Frank is the best man for the job, which is why I'm supporting him'.

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