Transport for London (TfL) has announced that commissioner Mike Brown is leaving to chair the delivery body running the £4 billion BDP-led revamp of the Houses of Parliament
Brown has headed TfL’s delivery of the London mayor’s transport strategy since July 2015 and will leave his role in May next year.
The commissioner has come under heavy fire from the London Assembly over both the Garden Bridge scandal and Crossrail, which is massively delayed and over budget. Yet he has always retained the confidence of mayor Sadiq Khan.
Crossrail had been estimated to cost £15.4 billion and open in December 2018. But last year, it was announced that the project would require a further £1.4 billion and open in late 2020 or early 2021.
Six months ago, Brown rejected calls by the London Assembly transport committee to consider his position after emails were released that appeared to show his staff playing down the prospect of Crossrail delays to Khan.
The committee saw messages in which TfL staff said they had consulted ‘Mike’ before removing elements that cast doubt on a December 2018 opening date for the line.
But Brown, whose salary package was worth more than £500,000 last year, insisted that his main focus had been to be ‘consistent and coherent’ regarding what was said in board meetings.
He told the assembly in April: ‘I’m not reflecting on whether I’m fit to be in position. I believe I am, I’ve got [the] full support of the mayor, and that’s the end of the issue for me.’
The commissioner also helped enable the signing of the Garden Bridge construction contract, a decision that contributed £21.4 million to the cancelled scheme’s £43 million cost to the public purse and led to further questions over his position.
The delivery authority for the revamp of Parliament will commission and execute the programme, working under the auspices of a shadow sponsor body, which will set the programme’s scope, budget and timescale.
Last week former HS2 and Crossrail executive Sarah Johnson was named as the shadow sponsor body’s chief executive.
Brown previously worked for London Underground, rising through the organisation to become chief operating officer in 2003 before moving to Heathrow Airport to run its passenger improvement programme. He later returned as managing director of the Underground.
He said: ‘I look forward to this new change of direction, and to bringing the experience I have gained throughout my career to the job of restoring and renewing the iconic architectural jewel that lies at the heart of London and at the heart of our country’s democracy.”
Chair of the shadow sponsor board, Liz Peace, said in a statement: ‘I’m delighted that a leader of Mike’s stature, and with such an impressive track record of delivery, is joining us to tackle this great challenge.
‘The sponsor board looks forward to drawing on his experience and working with him to make our most cherished historic listed building a safe, working home for our democracy.’