Current Affairs

Mayor defends project that dooms Astoria

Tony Grew March 20, 2008
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Ken Livingstone has claimed there would be “thirty per cent increases in fares and doubling of supplementary business rates” in the capital unless the Crossrail project goes ahead.

The £5.5 billion scheme will see a new cross-London rail connection built. However, one of London’s best-known gay venues will be demolished.

Crossrail will connect Heathrow directly to the City of London and Canary Wharf and link planned new areas of housing development in the Thames Gateway to central London.

The Astoria will be torn down as part of the redevelopment of Tottenham Court Road station.

It is best known as a live music venue and the home of popular club night G-A-Y.

Promoted by Jeremy Joseph, the G-A-Y night has played host to Kylie Minogue, Madonna, Christina Aguilera, the Spice Girls, Girls Aloud, Suga Babes and with X-Factor winner Shayne Ward.

It is expected to move into a new home before the demolition, which could happen as early as next year.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone faces re-election on May 1st and his main opponent, Conservative candidate Boris Johnson, opposes the Crossrail scheme.

Speaking today at a rare appearance with the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has historically not been the Mayor’s most effusive supporter, Mr Livingstone said:

“If I had to choose between the Olympic Games and Crossrail I would have chosen Crossrail – although even better to have both.

“Delivering Crossrail, the largest transport project in Europe, is the single most important issue facing the incoming Mayor, because it is the key not only to London’s transport but to its finances.

“If Crossrail is got right it will add ten per cent to London’s public transport capacity.

“I am not being in the slightest alarmist when I say that if Crossrail were to go wrong you are looking at thirty per cent increases in fares and doubling of supplementary business rates.

“Nothing therefore more clearly illustrates the difference in my approach to London to Boris Johnson’s than Crossrail.”

Mr Livingstone, standing again as the Labour candidate, faces Tory Boris Johnson, Lib Dem Brian Paddick and Green candidate Sian Berry.

Gay equality organisation Stonewall is hosting a hustings event with the candidates for Mayor of London on Saturday 19th April, the last such event before Londoners go to the polls on May 1st.

Mr Livingstone, Mr Paddick, Mr Johnson and Ms Berry will be taking part.

The Stonewall hustings will be held on Saturday 19th April between 11am and 12.30pm at the BFI Southbank, London. is proud to be a media sponsor for this event, which is open to everyone.

In order to ensure a seat you must register here.

For a full list of candidates for Mayor of London click here.

Nominations close on 28th March.

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