London Cycling Campaign (LCC) has joined one of the capital's leading cycling bloggers in calling on a director of Canary Wharf Group who also sits on the board of Transport for London (TfL) to rule himself out of discussions relating to planned Cycle Superhighways due to what it terms "a clear conflict of interest.”
Last week, Canary Wharf Group, which owns and manages the estate in Docklands that constitutes the capital’s second business district after the City of London, confirmed that it was behind an anonymous briefing note circulated to businesses and press in the capital opposing TfL’s plans.
A spokesman for the group, quoted by Peter Williams in the Guardian last Friday, confirmed that it was responsible for the document and said that the business was “extremely concerned about the design and traffic impact of the current proposals.”
Danny Williams of the blog Cyclists in the City, who first identified Canary Wharf Group as being behind the briefing note, is now calling on its finance director, Peter Anderson, to rule himself ineligible from being involved in decisions relating to the planned cross-London Cycle Superhighways, currently in consultation phase.
He says that Mr Anderson’s positions with TfL and Canary Wharf Group represent a conflict of interests under the Greater London Authority Act 1999, which requires that in such circumstances “the member shall not take part in any deliberation or decision of Transport for London, or any of its committees or sub-committees, with respect to that matter.”
The blogger also points out that besides being on TfL’s board, Mr Anderson also chairs its Finance & Policy Committee, which will decide on 25 November whether or not to approve funding for the routes.
He urges that he immediately make a full disclosure of his interest in the matter resulting from his position with Canary Wharf Group, as well as the lobbying the company has undertaken relating to its opposition to the Cycle Superhighways.
Mr Anderson’s current declaration of interests on the TfL website, dated May this year – four months before the consultation into the Cycle Superhighways, scheduled to run until 9 November, began – makes no mention of them.
That’s possibly because the schemes had not yet been formally announced, but many would argue that now they have, and Canary Wharf Group has gone public in its opposition, that declaration of interests should be brought up to date.
LCC’s campaigns manager, Rosie Downes, said: “There is a very clear conflict of interest here. Thousands of Londoners have responded in support of the superhighway proposals; the Mayor of London has said himself that it’s time to reallocate road space; companies like RBS, Orange and Unilever have publicly supported the plans.
“Yet despite the overwhelming support for the plans, they’re at risk because of one extremely powerful individual who sits on the Transport for London board – whose vision of London does not reflect in any way what the rest of us want to see.”
She continued: “[TfL commissioner] Sir Peter Hendy has said himself that London will face overwhelming overcrowding. Promoting cycling is essential to keeping London moving. At the same time Canary Wharf Group will be putting countless HGVs on our roads to facilitate the £1.3 billion redevelopment of the Shell Centre [on the South Bank close to the London Eye – ed].
“Without protected space for cycling - space that Londoners were promised when they elected the Mayor of London – we will see more deaths on London’s roads. And if that protected space doesn’t materialise due to the vested interests of one board member whose employer is proactively making our roads more dangerous, Transport for London will have some very difficult questions to answer,” she concluded.
More than 70 organisations spanning the public and private sectors in fields such as construction, healthcare, the law, media and professional services and together employing tens of thousands of people have now publicly supported the Cycle Superhighways through the Cycling Works website.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.