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Would-be mayors slated for carping over Tube upgrade plan

NEWS

CONSTRUCTION MINISTER Nick Raynsford hit out at leading Mayor of London candidates this week over their criticism of the Government's £8bn public-private partnership plans for the Tube.

Speaking to NCE on Wednesday, Raynsford accused Conservative candidate Jeffrey Archer of generating 'cheap headlines' by knocking the plan. He added: 'No serious mayoral candidate would say they don't want anything to do with this upgrade.'

Archer, fellow Conservative candidate Steven Norris and Labour MP Ken Livingstone have all criticised the PPP, which will see the Tube split into three privately run infrastructure companies plus a public sector operator. Last month, Livingstone bet £1,000 that the Tube plan would not work and Norris described it as a 'wrong-headed proposition' (NCE June 17).

Under the plan, the mayor's powerful transport body, Transport for London, will have to wait at least a year for the PPP to be finalised before it has any input into running the Tube in 2001. Archer said this was a 'disastrous policy' which was 'the last thing that any Londoner wanted'.

There had been speculation that Raynsford himself would run for mayor. But sources close to the minister ruled this out. 'That is definitely not on the cards. He is enjoying being construction minister too much,' said the source.

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