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MPs seats at risk over privatised Tube plan warns Livingstone

LONDON MAYOR Ken Livingstone last week warned Prime Minister Tony Blair that continued Government support for the partial privatisation of the Underground could cost Labour marginal seats at next year's General Election.

He warned that Labour MPs could be voted out if they supported the public private partnership in the face of strong local opposition. Last week Livingstone was applauded for his stance on the Tube during his first public question time as Mayor.

Livingstone this week again put pressure on the government to scrap the Underground PPP as he launched his 10 year transport plan for the capital.

He said that key obstacles to a publicly funded project had now been removed and added that he had beefed up Underground's management team to counter its poor record of delivering major projects on time and to budget.

The new team is led by former chief executive of New York City Partnership Bob Kiley, who is widely credited with rebuilding New York's Subway.

Livingstone also claimed the PPP plan was driven by public spending constraints but said there was now a big enough Budget surplus to underwrite a public bond issue for the upgrade.

He added that he was still prepared to mount a legal challenge to the PPP, despite the uncertainty of the outcome, but pointed out: 'I don't want to do a legal challenge, I'd rather resolve it at a political level.'

Livingstone's 10 year transport plan confirms his backing for rail projects including the East London Line, CrossRail and the Wimbledon to Hackney Line.

He also announced plans to introduce a 70p flat tube fare and a £5 congestion charge for motorists travelling through the city centre.

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