Friday, June 22, 2007

GLC Fares Fair

The newly elected Labour controlled Greater London Council (GLC) of 1981 under leader Ken Livingstone, and his transport chair Dave Wetzel's introduced a new travel scheme called "Fares Fair", starting on the 4th of October 1981,

This scheme divided the GLC area into four zones. The "Fare Deal" flat fare area became the Outer Zone, the Inner Zone was a ring (approximately 3 miles wide) between the Outer and Central areas, and the Central area was divided into the West End Zone and the City Zone. "Fairs Fare" introduced very low fares, as all child fares were reduced from 10p to 5p, a 10p short hop fare returned and a journey all in was zone was down to 20p.

Unfortunately, the increase in the rates to fund "Fares Fair" was disliked by Conservative especially Bromley Council (leader Dennis Barkway), which resulted in the GLC being taken to court.

In the meantime, Conservative Minister Michael Hesletine at the Department of the Environment immediately clawed back £119million of the GLC's transport grant and Norman Fowler at the Department of Transport creamed £20million off the GLC's train subsidy

The GLC won but the court of appeal overturned the decision on the 10th of November. On the 17th of November 1981 the Law Lords upheld the decision of the court of appeal that the fares policy was illegal.

It put a stop to Fares Fair, the success of which, Livingstone maintains, was the primary reason for Margaret Thatcher's subsequent abolition of the GLC.

In March 1982 as a result of the cour ruling fares were increased by 96% and London's experiment with affordable public transport destroyed

John McDonnell (then a GLC councillor for Hayes) and other local Hayes people did attempt to emulate the Italian Communists, who faced with bus fare rises refused to pay. known as the "The Can't pay won't pay campaign" While the campaign secured good press coverage few opted to go through the tiresome process of taking bus journeys and refusing to pay the increased fare or chaining yourself to the bus and then having to give name and address to a usually unsympathetic Metropolitan Police officer. However, the Fares Fair scheme did win popular support and on Ken Livingstone election as Mayor of London, he re introduced similar schemes including the popular free travel for Children (once again under threat from the Capitals Conservatives)