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Article from BTNews 12 SEPTEMBER 2016

COMMENT: Transport for who?

The following paragraph contains words that will probably set alarm bells ringing in the heads of seasoned observers. It reads: “London (Labour) mayor Sadiq Khan has announced his appointments to a new slimmed-down Transport for London (TfL) board which the news release says “better represents the diversity of the capital”.

We are told seven women and five men are to join the mayor and the deputy mayor for transport, Val Shawcross, on the board, with a further member to represent workers to be nominated by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

According to the release, the previous TfL board included 13 men and four women, “with no BAME representative”.

BAME is the latest trendy acronym to fall across our desks. For those who have been elsewhere, it stands for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and refers to members of non-white communities in the UK. 

Nothing wrong with that, except possibly they could just have said “members of non-white communities in the UK”. In any event, BTN thought we were all one community.

All that aside, the release notes the mayor’s new board “by contrast” to the old will be 57% female, 29% BAME and 13% with a disability – with the final position, as noted, to fill.

We have reviewed the list. We can find no mention of air transport. Transport for who, exactly? Keith Williams, the recently-retired CEO of British Airways, was on the previous board. He has not been replaced. BTN would suggest Alex Cruz, his successor, very much a Londoner.

If statistics produced by the Heathrow vs Gatwick debate have achieved nothing else, they ought to have brought home to most people the economic importance of aviation not just to the capital but to the entire UK. 

The idea of the august body that is TfL being devoid of any voice available to speak up on behalf of, or indeed in defence of, the world of airlines and airports and the impact they have on the men and women in the streets of London beggars belief.

Transport for who, exactly?

For the record, the new members announced by the mayor include “existing transport board members, champions of social-inclusion and disability rights, and finance, energy and infrastructure experts”.

They are as follows. Generally we have highlighted only those parts of their backgrounds that have some transport relevance. Do look them up. There are no serious train or car people on the board either.

  • Greg Clark CBE (member of the Crossrail 2 Growth Commission)
  • Ron Kalifa (no tranport, but former e-commerce director Natwest)
  • Dr Alice Maynard CBE (the current chair of the Independent Disability Advisory group for TfL)
  • Anne McMeel (worked in the Greater London Assembly (GLA) as the executive director of finance and performance 2001-2007; again, no transport)
  • Dr Mee Ling Ng OBE (board member of a housing association providing accessible housing to people with disabilities, and a board member of South Bank University)
  • Nelson Ogunshakin OBE (currently the CEO, president and company secretary of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering. Also chair of a Private Equity Investment Board)
  • Nina Skorupska CBE (chief executive of Renewable Energy Association)
  • Ben Story (previously the managing director of CitiBank)
  • Kay Carberry CBE (assistant general secretary of the TUC 2003-2016)
  • Lynn Sloman (represents cycling)
  • Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson (life member Disabled Motoring UK, continuing role on TfL board for a further two years)
  • Michael Liebreich (other than an engineering degree no transport interests on his CV. Two more years on the TfL Board)

Meanwhile, we are happy to give the final word to the mayor, who said: “I promised to reshape TfL’s board and make it reflect London’s diversity, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. 

“I’m delighted to be able to announce a board that brings together a huge range of talent, experiences and backgrounds, while being more efficient. 

“There are still not enough women in senior positions across London, and I’m proud that we have brought gender parity to the TfL board and increased BAME and disability representation. 

“Together we will ensure that TfL delivers the world-class transport system that Londoners deserve.”

Full details of the TfL board can be found on its website.


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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

David Starkie, United Kingdom

To guide the issue of fairness one needs to operate a selection process according to a criterion. It would be appropriate to have disabilities and ethnic peoples represented on the Board in proportion to their representation in the community. It is far from evident that this is the case here. Possible under-representation has been replaced by over-representation which does not achieve a fairer society. As the Editor has pointed out, aviation is not represented; neither is the a lobby representing the pedestrian who account for an overwhelming proportion of trips in London. And what about someone from the City, which provides the wealth to fund provision for the less-abled, etc. London is the capital of the UK and therefore should there not be a voice from other regions, including Scotland, Wales and NI? Still, when there is a future stuff-up in London's transport system we know who to blame.