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Transport for London Declares War on the London Assembly. Is Boris Johnson Losing Control of London?

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Questions about the involvement of Boris Johnson in the biggest media scandal of the decade were inevitably going to capture the nation's attention. Already a contentious figure, the question of whether Boris was iniquitous, or simply in the dark, could not fail to fill column inches. The press has delightedly seized on Mr Johnson's description of phone hacking allegations as "patently politically motivated", "spurious" and of course, "codswallop".

Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) Member Jenny Jones said today that, if it transpires Boris was aware of the police's phone hacking probe at the time of these remarks, he would have been "perverting the course of justice".

Boris has dexterously defended these charges, both in front of the MPA and in the press. He has also managed to continue writing his £250,000 a year column for The Telegraph, commenting on national tax policies which he has no powers to change, and (rather endearingly) riding a BMX bike.

Meanwhile, London's rather more prosaic politics have continued to rumble on - with some subtle differences. While everyone is looking the other way, Transport for London (which Mr Johnson chairs) seem to have sensed an opportunity to flex their muscles.

TfL have recently suffered much criticism for their stated priority of "smoothing traffic flow" in London, which means pushing as much traffic as possible through the city, at the expense of its air quality, noise pollution, and of course the safety of people using the streets.

The focal point of attention about this has, in recent weeks, been TfL's Blackfriars Bridge plans. The plans use the station's reopening as a pretext for raising the bridge's speed limit, removing a pedestrian crossing and purging the bridge of cycle lanes.

Last week, the London Assembly passed a unanimous motion against Transport for London's plans. Conservative Andrew Boff called the plans "too dangerous" and Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon demanded that the Mayor "use the facts".

The motion, submitted by Green Party member Jenny Jones, passed with support from all parties, calling on Mayor Boris Johnson to "revisit" the plans for the bridge.

Boris Johnson claims to agree that TfL have got it wrong at least in part, saying in response to questioning by the London Assembly that, "More work needs to be done on cycling over Blackfriars Bridge... I am working with TfL to try to work it out."

Transport for London seem unfettered by this criticism.

On Tuesday, they published an extraordinary press release, ignoring the Mayor and Assembly, saying that they will begin work on the junction this Friday evening - and will work through the night to finish by 5am the following Monday.

The last time that TfL worked through the night at Blackfriars Bridge was in 2004, to scrap a dangerous road design that had been the subject of much campaigning. Sadly, they did not act until 37 year old physiotherapist Vicki McCreery was killed by a bus.

To the surprise of many campaigners, TfL's contravention of a London Assembly motion is legal. The Assembly may be the democratically elected body representing London's residents, but TfL has no statutory duty to heed its motions. The Mayor has the power to instruct TfL not to proceed before the plans are revisited, but despite "working with TfL", he does not appear to have done so.

The recent stain of the Met's activities has the public concerned about Boris's management of the police.

Blackfriars is just the latest in a string of events at Transport for London which suggest that they Mayor can't quite grasp this brief, either. TfL are currently blocking plans for regeneration at Elephant and Castle because it would "interfere with traffic flow too greatly". They are also systemically taking time away from pedestrians at London's busiest crossings, including at Holborn and Oxford Circus.

This latest Blackfriars blunder comes straight off the back of the news that, despite claiming poverty to justify hiking fares last year, TfL's budget shows a £1.3 billion underspend.

Transport for London's prioritising of cars, vans and HGVs in London is regressive. Far more people will use Blackfriars bridge each day as pedestrians and cyclists than they will as drivers.

All London's political parties, including Boris's own Conservatives, understand this. They have all explicitly stated they are against TfL's proposed Blackfriars redesign.

That TfL is still designing streets for cars rather than people makes them look increasingly out of touch and out of control. That Boris Johnson is unwilling or unable to stop TfL's bulldozers rolling in on Friday begs the question: is Boris out of his depth?

On Friday evening, London cyclists are protesting against TfL's action. They are meeting at the south end of Blackfriars Bridge at 6pm for a "flash ride". I'll be joining them.