While I, like many thousands of Londoners, have been greatly inconvenienced by the Tube strikes,
I must speak up for the Mayor, Sadiq Khan [“Khan rejects claims that he’s ‘given’ in to union after reducing Tube staff cuts’, February 1]. It is simply not right that stations should have had their staffing levels reduced by Transport for London (allowed under Boris Johnson’s tenure at City Hall) to the extent than many passengers now feel unsafe using stations late at night, and you have to wait ages for assistance if there is a problem with your Oyster card, or a malfunctioning gate when you are trying to exit. We should be glad that we have a mayor trying to broker a solution between a TfL desperate to cut costs and unions standing up for their members.
So London Underground has now said it is going to hire 325 new workers, after making 900 jobs redundant when it closed ticket offices throughout the network. Therefore it has admitted that it reduced staffing at stations to an unacceptable level.
It is absolutely right that Sadiq Khan should be available to both sides to find a way out of this long-running Tube staffing dispute — which is costly both in personal terms to commuters trying to go about their daily lives, and to businesses severely disrupted by ongoing industrial action.
But while it is right that Mr Khan tries to hammer out a fair deal for all concerned, I share some cynicism expressed by his political opponents — whose side is a Labour Mayor on?
Sadiq Khan appears to be taking life far too easily regarding his duties as London Mayor. His main activity seems to be swanning around giving his views on his political hobby-horses to the press and on social media, in particular on international matters (such as Donald Trump’s presidency) that really do not concern him. He is supposed to be a Mayor in charge of transport — but has been unable to do anything to stop the disruption caused by the recent Tube strikes.
Although people are justifiably concerned about the cost to London on the Tube strike days, I don’t think their full impact has been taken into account. From my own experience,
I have observed that once people eventually drag themselves into the office, they then spend the remainder of the morning relating the story of their inward journey to every other member of staff, in increasing detail, and then consume the majority of their afternoons discussing alternative transport options for the homeward journey before leaving early “to beat the rush”.
Edwardians also had great artwork
I note the piece about the Eduardo Paolozzi murals at Tottenham Court Road station [“Restored mosaic goes back on display”, February 1].
They were put up as part of London Underground’s extensive Station Modernization Programme, which though undoubtedly needed, caused the destruction and loss of a much larger and more impressive Edwardian tiling project at many central London stations.
In the early 1900s Leslie Green designed 46 new stations. Until then all stations below ground used white glazed tiles to cover the platform walls but he used 9in x3in coloured tiles and these formed a unique pattern at each station. Passengers would be able to recognise their station by the coloured patterns.
Of the 46 stations he decorated only two now survive — at Holloway Road and Caledonian Road. Hyde Park Corner has some original tiling but a lot of it is not original. Any others you spot are (mostly inaccurate) replicas. It is good that the Paolozzi murals have been reinstated, though we should not lose sight of what came before them.
Douglas Rose, author of Tiles of the Unexpected
Deutsche Bank fine is a clear message
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has begun 2017 with a bang [“Deutsche pays £500 million for Russian money-laundering scam”, January 31]. The Deutsche Bank fine of £163 million (plus $425 million by US authorities) is in marked contrast to the FCA’s highest total fine last year of £8.2 million, in respect of Aviva’s failure to protect clients’ money.
Those who are responsibile for anti-money laundering systems and controls may want to think about checking the efficacy of these and to reacquaint themselves with the risks to their firms. The Deutsche fine contradicts any suspicions that Andrew Bailey’s leadership of the FCA would usher in a softly, softly approach to enforcement. Ignore it at your risk.
Claire Cross, Corker Binning lawyers
Phoning at wheel deserves a ban
I agree with Richard Bevan [Letters, January 30] that stronger penalties are needed for drivers using mobile phones at the wheel. The current fine of a mere £200 and points on a licence are not strong enough deterrents. I propose the introduction of immediate driving bans of six weeks.
Employers can also play a part in encouraging more responsibility behind the wheel. Anyone found guilty of using a mobile phone while driving a company vehicle should face losing their job.
Nicola Sturgeon is so hypocritical
When she was asked for her views on the result of the US presidential election, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said that while Donald Trump’s victory was not what she was hoping for, we have to accept the democratically expressed will of the American people.
However, she displays no such magnanimity when it comes to accepting the will of the people who voted to leave the EU in last year’s referendum — in fact she is doing everything she can to thwart the democratically expressed will of the people of this country. The hypocrisy of the woman is astonishing.