Firefighters propose £15m loan to rescue Transport for London

15 Feb 01
London's fire authority has agreed in principle to loan Transport for London £15m to help it meet a potential budget shortfall later this year.

16 February 2001

The money will come from the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority's general and pension reserves and would be repaid by TfL with full interest early next year.

According to the LFEPA, the loan would have no impact on the budget for the fire brigade's front-line operations or funds earmarked for pensions, and would only be made if it was fully satisfied that it was legally and financially protected.

Val Shawcross, chair of the LFEPA, said: 'We are not expecting a formal request from TfL until later in the year and will review our financial situation then. But it does seem likely that we will be in a position to assist and I see no reason why we should not help a sister body within the Greater London Authority.'

The plan was announced after talks with Mayor Ken Livingstone, who is concerned about cuts to TfL's budget.

London Assembly members have already proposed a £23.6m cut in TfL's £837.4m proposed budget, and this week Livingstone agreed to slash £13.5m from his original budget recommendation for the transport authority.

These cuts – along with an agreed reduction of £2.3m from the proposed core GLA budget of £38.4m, £9.2m from the police's proposed £1.99bn budget and £3m from the LFEPA's requirement of £322m – will reduce the increase in the precept from 73p a week for council tax payers to 54p.

TfL has refused to comment on the possible loan until funding is agreed by GLA members. But Livingstone said the LFEPA's proposals were 'a prudent and sensible piece of financial management'.

Assembly members, who decide the entire budget on February 15, have welcomed Livingstone's cut in the transport budget, but believe more can be done.

Baroness Sally Hamwee, chair of the Assembly's budget committee, said: 'We welcome the news that the mayor has backed down to less than three-quarters of what he was putting forward. If we can see a way to shave a little more off the budget without prejudicing basic services so much the better.'


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