Sadiq Khan ‘absolutely regrets’ hikes in transport fares and council tax

By Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said he “absolutely regrets” his planned hikes in transport fares and council tax – which are both set to be the highest in at least a decade.

Mr Khan added, however, that failing to raise the charges would mean cuts to public services – and that the Government was “effectively forcing” him to make the increases.

The mayor announced in January that from March 5, Tube and bus fares would be going up by 5.9 per cent – the same as regulated rail fare rises across England, which will also take effect on that date.

It will be the highest rise in more than a decade.

Mr Khan is also expected to increase City Hall’s share of council tax bills by 9.7 per cent, the biggest rise for 20 years.

Asked about the planned increases yesterday, Mr Khan said: “I absolutely regret having to raise fares, because the Government’s forcing us to do so.

“I absolutely regret having to increase council tax because the Government’s effectively forcing us to do so.

“If we didn’t raise fares by the amount mandated by the government, we’d be losing money, which means buses being cut and public services being cut.

“If we didn’t increase council tax by the amount the Government’s making us do, it would mean fewer police officers, it would mean our fire services not being able to make the changes that Grenfell requires them to do so – but also it would mean that we’d be punished in future years as well.

“One of the conditions of the deal with the Government was [that] we raise council tax to pay for Transport for London (TfL).

“So my political opponents may criticise us having to increase fares and council tax.

“What they’ve got to accept, though, is it’s the Government that’s forcing us to do this.”

A spokesman at the Department for Transport said: “TfL fare increases remain, as always, a decision for the Mayor, and it is incorrect to say otherwise.”

Pictured top: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (Picture: PA)

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