Southwark Council’s leader has accused the government of “playing politics” over the extension of the Bakerloo Line.
In a joint article with Lewisham’s Mayor Damien Egan, Cllr Peter John raised the alarm that the capital could be entering a deep recession without funding for “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects.
The Bakerloo extension from Elephant and Castle to the Old Kent Road and onto Lewisham is a key part of the council’s ambitions to build 20,000 new homes in the area surrounding the Old Kent Road.
Writing for the website, OnLondon, Cllr John said central government failing to fund the ambitions project would scupper Southwark’s and Lewisham’s economic recovery from Covid.
“Boxed in by a lack of government funding and powers to raise finance itself, London is currently charting an unenviable course, set to enter a major recession with plenty of shovel-ready projects yet unable to get digging,” he said.
“In taking this approach to London, the government is playing with fire … The Bakerloo Line extension is a perfect example of the sort of shovel-ready scheme that government should be engaging with TfL on getting built.”
A joint campaign by Southwark and Lewisham councils urging residents to back the extension of the line has been signed by thousands.
TfL’s finances have been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, and its emergency budget released last week have thrown a number of projects into doubt over a lack of funding.
Among them are an upgraded ferry crossing between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf. The plan was itself a cheaper option, after a cycling and walking bridge was junked over its massive £600m estimated cost.