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Transport to bear the brunt of London's £67m budget cuts

Investment in the Crossrail link, Thames river crossings and flagship town centre schemes may be shelved following the decision by the London Assembly to block mayor Ken Livingstone's full budget.

The Assembly's decision to limit the mayor's 2002/3 budget has forced him to find swingeing cuts. Livingstone has decided that his Transport for London body will bear the brunt of the £67.5 million of savings that must be made.

Londoners' council tax bills will climb by 15.2 per cent this year, instead of the mayor's proposed 35 per cent hike. The revised budget will total more than £4 billion. Sally Hamwee, chairwoman of the London Assembly, said: 'The mayor's spending has had a brake put on it. It's a victory for common sense. There will still be considerable investment.'

A list of the potential cuts seen by the AJ includes the delay of development work for Thames road crossings between Barking and Thamesmead and between North Greenwich and Silvertown. Funding for the modernisation of Victoria bus station is also threatened.

The suggested cuts also include an option for a 'delay by one year and reduced funding for flagship walking, cycling, town centre and area-based schemes.'

Crossrail is also understood to be on the list.

However, David Taylor, project manager for Crossrail line 1, told the AJ he was optimistic:

'Obviously we rely on government money, but I don't think we will be affected. I believe most of our funding is ring fenced, so I don't see how they could now cut it.'

A mayoral spokesperson told the AJ: 'Ken Livingstone and Bob Kiley are now looking at which projects can be deferred or reigned in. The list of projects is clearly one that includes many desirable proposals. It'll be a difficult choice.' A decision on which projects are jettisoned is due by the end of the month.

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