Zac Goldsmith hits out at Sadiq Khan’s ‘£2billion black hole’ London transport fare freeze proposal

Conservative mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith has labelled his rival Sadiq Khan’s proposal to freeze travel fares as ‘complete and utter nonsense’.

His comments were in response to his Labour counterpart who said the Richmond Park MP has a plan to hit commuters in the back pocket by hiking up travel costs for Londoners if elected.

Mr Khan proposed a four-year travel fare freeze but Mr Goldsmith claims this would leave a £2billion black hole in the TfL budget.

Mr Goldsmith said: “He’s denied it relentlessly in broadcast interviews but TfL have been very strong, saying there is a black hole.

“If you take this money out of the investment budget there’s no way you could then have the night tube, there’s no way you could guarantee to protect the freedom passes, there’s no way you could upgrade the Circle, Metropolitan or District line.”

Mr Goldsmith said these ideas would have to be binned or the only alternative would be to hack away at the police budget or massively ramp up council tax.

He continued: “Clearly the cost of travel is high and my job as mayor will be to bear down on costs at every opportunity to find every inefficiency and weed it out.

“I’ve been very clear my overwhelming priority has to be growing the transport infrastructure and I wouldn’t do anything that jeopardises that. If we don’t commit to this London will come to a standstill.”

Mr Goldsmith also said planning is a political issue where the only real barrier is land, and the only way it is accessible is by expanding the transport network.

He said: “That has to be priority, you can’t take £2billion out of the TfL and at the same time promise to solve the housing crisis.”

Mr Goldsmith also said while the issue of transport cannot be ignored, he recognised that it was synonymous with the lack of affordable housing for Londoners, especially first time buyers.

Despite London booming against all the odds during the recession, on Boris Johnson’s 2012 election Mr Goldsmith said there is an overriding feeling of anger that success has not translated into everyone’s lives.

He said: “People can see success but they don’t feel they are part of it. The job of the next mayor, very broadly speaking, is to protect that success but also make it work for everyone.

“We have a situation where the gap between supply and demand is way too wide. Prices are unsustainably high.

“You could be earning a decent wage in London, well over the average wage which is roughly £34,000, and still have no chance at all of buying a home.

“And that’s a problem. It’s a real problem – it’s a recipe for unhappiness. If we don’t solve this issue London will cease to be the most important and successful city on earth.”

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