8am: meet key local campaigners over the Highgate Tube Control Centre. Tubelines want to improve the service on the Northern Line (good thing) but are doing this by putting a big ugly building in at the edge of Highgate Woods (bad thing).
We are meeting with Catherine McGuinness of the Corporation of London for a photo op and discussion. Tubelines has listened a bit to the campaign from residents living next to the site about their side of the site, but they have not taken, seemingly, a blind bit of notice of the damaging aspect towards the Highgate Woods side.
I assume this is because trees and squirrels can’t complain? However, Cllr Bob Hare (Lib Dem, Highgate ward), the Highgate Society, the Corporation of London and me are speaking out on behalf of all those who use the woods, the trees, the squirrels and indeed the bats.
We release a joint statement for the press.
Then at 10am my last Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall. I am sad to go – but as ever have a bit of a spat with Ken. Basically a skirmish over his failure since re-entering the Labour womb to deal effectively with the Tube PPP. The performance is abysmal and the private companies, in my view, unlikely to deliver even what was in their original bid. We are a Capital City – get us out of it! Ken has got to threaten more – and/or get us out of the contract at the Government’s cost. Spending too much time fixing for us to use mobile phones on the tube – and none on getting the infracos to deliver the basic services!
Anyway – still sad to be leaving. I have just so enjoyed it all.
A couple of hours later I pop up to see Ken because I have promised residents campaigning on another issue to raise the issue with him. Ken and I chat for a while – and then he says – have you come to say goodbye? And I say no. I have come to request a deputation on the Highgate Tube station fence issue.
Ken has actually seen the fence and seems to totally agree and says he doesn’t need a deputation – let’s just deal with it. He drags me through to Redmond (right hand man’s) office and we run through it. Redmond says he will contact Tim O’Toole (Transport for London) and ask him to take down the fence and see what he says.
Glad I won’t be there to hear the expletives! – but this is Ken at his finest, actually standing up for what matters. I wait with baited breath.
In the evening, after my first three line whip vote in which melee I find myself next to Boris (my new best friend from Question Time) Johnson and ask him which is the ‘ayes’ and which is the ‘noes’ lobby? I clearly don’t want to go the wrong way. Boris claims not to know … Very charming – but I don’t believe a word.