The comments by Labour councillor Jagtar Dhindsa about the Metropolitan Line Extension (MLX) (Opinion, December 23, 2017) show he is both ill-informed and hopelessly out of his depth on one of the most important projects facing the town, which is shocking for a Mayoral candidate.
The council’s contribution to the MLX is nothing like the £160 million he states. In fact, for a project that will cost around £300 million overall, the council’s contribution is just £10.9 million, mostly coming from developer contributions to improved public transport, achieved through the planning process. While one of the positive things about this scheme is that we have succeeded in attracting outside funding for the project, no major rail scheme like this happens without some financial contribution from the local authority.
Every penny the council has spent on this project has been properly accounted for and audited. In suggesting otherwise, Cllr Dhindsa is getting confused with when he and his party were in charge at the town hall. Back then the council had its accounts disowned by the external auditor for three years running and was damned by official inspectors as one of the worst in the country.
Cllr Dhindsa is more than welcome to get a briefing from officers on the council’s role in the MLX. It is probably the most important public transport improvement the town has had in several decades. It significantly benefits the West Watford area that he represents. Yet while our mayor and the projects supporters have been actively trying to make this happen, Cllr Dhindsa and his Labour colleagues have offered nothing but ill-informed sniping from the sidelines.
Cllr Iain Sharpe (Liberal Democrat)
Portfolio holder for regeneration and development