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Cross River Tram is "vital" for Southwark say councillors

Southwark councillors of all parties last week voted unanimously for a motion reaffirming its commitment to the Cross River Tram, currently being reviewed by new Mayor Boris Johnson.

The Cross River Tram would link Camden Town with Brixton and Peckham via Elephant & Castle and would cross the Thames at Waterloo Bridge.

The motion was passed at Council Assembly (a meeting of the borough's 63 councillors) last Wednesday.

"The tram is a vital part of the schemes at the Elephant and at Aylesbury [Estate]," says Cllr Paul Noblet, executive member for regeneration.

"When I and colleagues visit City Hall in September we will be making the strongest possible case to make sure the Mayor gives this project the go-ahead."

Scheme "under review"

Soon after taking office new Mayor of London Boris Johnson confirmed that he intended to "review the transport, economic and environmental implications of CRT and form a view on the best way to proceed".

Last month the Mayor of London's new director for transport policy, Kulveer Ranger, was quizzed by the London Assembly Transport Committee about the status of the tram scheme:

"Is the cost equivalent to what benefit is going to be achieved? How can we potentially do it a different way? Or yes, should we progress with them? All these questions are being asked of ... the Cross River Tram at the moment," said Mr Ranger.

Under further questioning from Lambeth and Southwark London Assembly member Val Shawcross, he added: "I'm not saying that there's not a good case for trams and there's not a good case for Cross River Tram. I'm saying we are going to look at it in terms of where we are."

At the same meeting the committee heard from Transport for London commissioner Peter Hendy who said: "I was concerned [last year] that we were spending time, money, effort and particularly consultancy fees on projects that were not funded for implementation and are still not funded for implementation".

Last year former Mayor Ken Livingstone revealed that expenditure on the Cross River Tram to October 2007 "has been in the order of 11.6 million".

Will Boris shelve the CRT?

Southwark's Labour leader Cllr Peter John is pessimistic about the prospects for the tram: "There is a general fear that Boris Johnson will shelve the proposals for the Cross River Tram," he wrote on his blog.

"So last [week]'s debate re-affirming the commitment of every councillor in Southwark to the proposal was welcome, and should hopefully have some impact on the Mayor when he comes to prioritise his transport policies for his administration.

He added: "Although the capital costs for the CRT will be large and are not presently available, it would be bad news for Southwark if the Mayor decided to shelve the proposal at the moment. Once a major capital project loses its place in the queue it can be years before that project finds its way back onto any agenda."

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