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Poor management skills 'to blame for chaos' says mayor

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Major British building and transport projects have been mired in chaos and delays through a lack of management skills, London mayor Ken Livingstone told a conference this week.

Livingstone, giving his approval to a new traffic-busting blueprint for London, said the capital desperately needed to recruit project managers from abroad to see through schemes such as Crossrail. 'The problem has always been trying to persuade central government to respond in time, ' he said. 'We now have a city that is intolerably congested and polluted. There's a huge backlog of work but we haven't been developing the people with the skills to project manage, whether for small public projects or the Channel Tunnel.'

Livingstone was speaking at the unveiling of an integrated transport and environment strategy from the Central London Partnership - a publicprivate group chaired by Sir John Egan involving businesses, the police, the Tate Gallery and the London Institute.

The strategy calls for traffic charges and lowemission zones, improvements to stations and a crackdown on aggressive street begging and antisocial behaviour. The mayor committed himself to the proposals and said his transport strategy would be published in July. He threw open the possibility for a tramline running along Oxford Street and said his chief architectural advisor, Lord Rogers, was looking at sweeping away pavement clutter and introducing new street design.

Sir John, author of Rethinking Construction, said building teams were too often broken up after the completion of large projects. They should be kept together on a series of ongoing schemes, he said.

John Edgcumbe, chair of Central London Partnership's transport steering group, said the transport scheme had to be linked to the mayor's draft spatial development strategy, the London Plan.

'What we want out of this strategy is practical lobbying, ' he said. 'We must keep pressing local and central government and the mayor. I want to find champions, people who are passionate, because if this is led by people who really believe it can happen, it will.'

Livingstone told the conference that road charges would reduce London traffic by between 10 and 15 per cent by 2003.

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