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In Passing

12 June 2020

 LTT editorial director Peter Stonham has been keen to get participation from the DfT at our fortnightly online discussions. It’s been a tough job, and even a direct approach to the secretary of state, Grant Shapps, inviting him to speak about street space reallocation in response to Covid-19 went unanswered. So for last week’s discussion on buses, Peter was delighted to see no less than four senior DfT officials present. The only problem was they were all no longer DfT people! Two former director generals responsible for local transport were there – Steve Gooding (now at the RAC Foundation) and John Dowie (now at FirstGroup). Plus Nic Cary, former head of digital transformation (now running his own consultancy Waysphere) and Richard Walker, former transport planning & strategy advisor, North & devolution, who is currently on a sabbatical working at the University of Leeds on decarbonisation, and on a project to support civic activism. 

Steve Gooding even brought his chauffeur to the meeting. Or at least that’s what it seemed from the screen background image of the Bentley and liveried flunkey that appeared behind him in his Zoom picture… Until he explained it was a shot of the foyer of the Royal Automobile Club, where he’s fortunate to work when not locked down at home! But he did make us wonder if he might be in a position to send round a car to pick up the secretary of state to take part next time. 

What’s the best word to describe relations between the Government and London mayor Sadiq Khan? Cool? Frosty? Icy? Polar? Siberian? The recent correspondence between transport secretary Grant Shapps and Khan over the TfL bailout and the suspension of youth travel, certainly suggest things are ‘below zero’. And so too does communities secretary Robert Jenrick’s letter to the mayor about the London Plan. Was it therefore a freudian slip that prompted TfL officials to report the following to the board last week: “On 14 May 2020, TfL reached an agreement with the Government on a funding and financing package of £1.6bn to cover the period 1 April 2020 to 17 October 2020, comprising: (i) an extraordinary support rant of £1.095bn...” 

Lancashire County Council has reported a delay in issuing invitation to tender documents for road maintenance works “due to the developing situation with CORVID”. Which, as every twitcher knows, is the name for birds belonging to the crow family. Many of them like nothing better than a tasty piece of roadkill. Which begs the question, how have the scavengers been faring with less traffic on the roads? And, come to think of it, will 2020 mark an upturn in fortunes for the beleaguered hedgehog? 

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