Route 53
Route 53 links a string of south-east London communities with the West End – but will be cut back from June

Greenwich Labour councillors criticised their own London mayor last night over cuts to south-east London’s bus services – with a senior councillor admitting getting into “a bit of trouble” for campaigning against the shortening of the key 53 routes.

Transport cabinet member Denise Scott-McDonald said that the mayor’s office objected to Greenwich launching a joint campaign with Lewisham and Southwark councils to keep the route running from Plumstead to Whitehall.

Made it to @LewishamCouncil #53AllTheWay

— Royal Borough of Greenwich (@Royal_Greenwich) November 2, 2018

TfL, which is chaired by Khan, ignored the three Labour councils’ objections and is pressing ahead with proposals to cut the route back to Lambeth North from 15 June.

Woolwich Riverside councillor John Fahy, questioning Scott-McDonald in a scrutiny panel session last night, expressed bafflement at how Khan could pursue policies aimed at cutting pollution while cutting bus services at the same time.

“It seems to me to be a total contradiction that the mayor on the one hand talks about the ULEZ charge in central London, while at the same time reducing bus services in areas that suffer from high levels of air pollution,” he said (26 minutes in the video above).

“There needs to be some joined-up thinking within TfL. Because if they don’t, then the air quality issue isn’t going to be resolved. I think they need to be kicked around a bit in that regard.”

Scott-McDonald said: “I worked with Lewisham, I worked with Southwark, and we got into a bit of trouble with City Hall even though we were campaigning about it … you know what, so many people who work in the centre of London need it, and I totally agree with you, John.

“We’ll keep up the pressure, and they’ll come back to us and say ‘we’ve got less money’ – that’s what always gets thrown back – but if the mayor is serious about this modal shift, for people to walk, cycle and take buses… then I’ll be more than happy to carry on with that.”

TfL’s plans to cut the 53 service were revealed by this website last August, and were confirmed after a consultation earlier this month.

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