Crystal Palace Tramlink extension not backed by Boris Johnson despite manifesto
BORIS Johnson has failed to back plans to extend the Tramlink to Crystal Palace – despite including a pledge to do so in his election manifesto.
The Mayor of London, who has also twice appeared in the borough posing next to a tram with the words "Crystal Palace" in the destination board, this week stands accused of going back on his word, by failing to deliver on commitments made before and after May's mayoral vote.
Even supporters within his own Conservative party, including Croydon Council leader Mike Fisher and Croydon's London Assembly member Steve O'Connell, have admitted the mayor has not come up trumps on what they believed were firm commitments.
Cllr Fisher this week expressed his disappointment in a letter to Mr Johnson, which said: "Based on earlier statements we had expected the inclusion of a tram extension to Crystal Palace within the TfL business plan."
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Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the Labour opposition on Croydon Council, attacked the mayor for his tram U-turn.
He said: "To stand in front of a tram once and pledge support for something that is not going to be delivered is bad enough, but to do it twice is outrageous.
"He is taking the people of Croydon for granted."
Shortly after May's elections, Mr Johnson was pictured with Mr O'Connell in front of a new Croydon tram with "Crystal Palace" clearly emblazoned on its front.
The previous year he had done the same thing, as he announced the extension was back on his agenda.
His enthusiasm for the extension had led many people to believe the scheme he dropped in 2008, after being elected for the first time, was firmly back on track. But when the draft Transport for London (TfL) business plan covering the next ten years was published on Tuesday, there was no mention of the extension, though the plan does indicate funding being made available by 2015 to double the track between Croydon and Wimbledon and buy four new trams.
Traders and residents in Crystal Palace, who felt the Tramlink would bring a much-needed boost to the area, have been left angered.
Tim Sharville, chairman of Crystal Palace Chamber of Commerce, said: "We are very disappointed. We really did feel that the scheme would be in there this time."
Robert Gibson, a leading community activist in Upper Norwood, added: "Everyone will be bitterly disappointed.
"There could not have been more clear an indication of support than standing in front a brand new purple tram with 'Crystal Palace' on it."
Mr O'Connell told the Advertiser the business plan was "refreshed" annually and he would press the mayor to look at ways of helping finance an extension.
The mayor's office did not respond to requests for a comment as we went to press.