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Livingstone slashes Crossrail construction budget

The construction budget for new stations on the multibillion-pound Crossrail project has been slashed to safeguard the future of the scheme, London mayor Ken Livingstone has claimed.

Speaking at the MIPIM property fair yesterday, Livingstone said that the bosses of the cross-capital rail link had decided to dramatically reduce the pot of cash for station building to keep costs down.

In a no-holds-barred outburst the mayor pointed the finger of blame directly at the architects for the cost overruns.

He said: 'Architects have been told to build stations rather than cathedrals. Now the costs seem to be coming down.'

The news will come as a blow to architects earmarked to do design work associated with Crossrail, including Hawkins\Brown and John McAslan.

McAslan said: 'I think what everyone wants to avoid is another Jubilee Line.'

But the architect hinted that the mayor's comments might be premature. He said: 'As far as I know nothing is happening on Crossrail, and engineering-led consortia will be appointed over the next couple of months.'

The overall budget for Crossrail is £10 billion, although the specific budget for the stations is unknown.

It was the second time in a day that the Mayor had criticised the architecture profession.

Earlier, at the launch of the London stand, Livingstone said that anyone failing to get work in the capital only had themselves to blame.

He said: 'Any architects who are not doing very well in London are pretty poor either in terms of inspiration or courage.'

And the controversial politician repeated his call for his planning powers to be ramped up.

He said: 'The present planning system is geared up for delayers and prevaricators.'

He went on to ask developers at MIPIM to 'beat a path to David Miliband's door' to demand that the mayor's office be given greater authority.

This would allow Livingstone to green-light his favoured schemes, and not just veto them, as his current powers allow.

by Richard Waite

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