Boris Johnson went "ballistically" over the ax of a controversial cycle lane – and his The cycling tsar promised to send the prime minister if the council presidents agreed not to remove him.
The bike path on Kensington High Street has become the unlikely battleground between cyclists and angry riders.
The series took a bizarre turn last night when it was revealed that Mr. Johnson's £ 95,000-a-year cycling tsar told the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea not to tear up the bike path – and even promised to send his boss along, as pictured you drive it down.
Andrew Gilligan made the fancy offer when he desperately asked the chiefs of transportation to use the Kensington route in nationwide anger on the new £ 250 million cycle lanes that have created major traffic jams and blocked emergency vehicles in traffic.
His move came when London Mayor of Labor Sadiq Khan threatened last week to take control of the road from the Tory-controlled local authority, reinstate the lane and force Council Chairs to repay £ 300,000 in public money that were used to bring them to town there in first place.
Mr Khan is now expected to request that the busy road in West London be converted into a "red route" that the management of the local Tory Authority wrestles and hands over to Transport for London, which he operates from City Hall.
Section 14B of the Highways Act 1980 allows the Mayor to instruct Transport for London to take control of any road "where appropriate".
However, in an open letter today, Councilor Johnny Thalassites warned: "If we are threatened with legal action or financial sanctions, it will not affect our decision. The London boroughs are not here to be bullied into submission by sanctions."
If Kensington Council objects, the final decision will be made by Secretary of Transportation Grant Shapps, who previously beat up Mr Khan for his use of cycle lane policy in the capital
In another twist, ex-BBC journalist Gilligan claimed in an extraordinary phone call that the Prime Minister had gone "ballistic" after Kensington and the Chelsea Council closed the trial after seven weeks after a petition signed by 3,000 residents.
During an extraordinary phone conversation, former BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan alleged the Prime Minister (pictured in July) had gone "ballistic" after Kensington and Chelsea Council closed the trial after seven weeks after a petition signed by 3,000 residents
Extinction Rebellion supporters attempted to prevent contractors from removing bollards in High Street Kensington that marked the pop-up bike lane during the Covid-19 lockdown
Cyclists ride down Kensington High Street to protest the closure of the cycle path on December 1st
A source said: & # 39; He said the Prime Minister was personally interested in the program and was taking a ballistic approach. He said if we kept on track he would get Boris to go for a bike ride.
"We thought that couldn't be true, we thought the Prime Minister was busy, but that's what Gilligan said."
Extinction Rebellion activists blocked council workers last week when they tried to remove bollards between the traffic and the bike path.
Policy Advisor Andrew Gilligan in January
Meanwhile, Mr Khan warned that Transport for London, which is under his control, is considering "all other options" and reclaiming the cost of the bollards.
The council said it canceled the £ 300,000 bike path after numerous complaints from residents, businesses and disabled groups. Havers, one of the district's most famous residents, wrote in The Mail on Sunday last month that the blocked road was clogged with traffic fumes after the two-lane freeway was reduced to one.
Council insiders said they did not want to install the bike path at all but were forced to do so by Mr Gilligan. A source said, “We have been forced to do things for which we were obliterated by our own residents because No. 10 said we'd get something worse if we didn't. We did it because we felt a little intimidated and a little bit bullied. & # 39;
Last night, Mr. Gilligan denied bullying or intimidating anyone.
Steve McNamara of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association said: “We have come to realize that some government ministers do not even know the extent to which Gilligan is involved in these new cycle lanes and that no one is holding him accountable.
As the Prime Minister's Special Advisor on Transport, however, there are only two options: either the Prime Minister is aware of and approves of Gilligan's manipulation, or he does not know what has happened. Which one is it? & # 39;
The council said it canceled the £ 300,000 bike path after numerous complaints from residents, businesses and disabled groups
Gilligan, a former colleague of Mr Johnson at The Spectator Magazine, served as a bicycle inspector for London between 2013 and 2016 despite allegations of "cronyism". He was instrumental in the introduction of the so-called "Boris bikes", which could be rented all over London.
In 2004 he resigned as a reporter for the BBC, along with its director general and chairman, after reporting that then Prime Minister Tony Blair had "sexed" a dossier alleging that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein could fire Missiles in Britain in 45 minutes.
Mr Gilligan resigned after the Hutton investigation said his claims were "unfounded".
Last night, Labor MP Rupa Huq said: “It's okay for Boris to ride a bike, but he has other more pressing issues on his tray right now, like Brexit and the pandemic. As a normal cyclist, I'm ready for bike lanes, but these pop-up lanes can be a little arbitrary and disjointed. London needs a permanent, dedicated and completely separate lane network that covers all major arterial roads. & # 39;
Robert Goodwill, a Conservative MP and former Bicycle Secretary, said: “These are decisions that need to be made by the local population, not by Mr Gilligan at No. 10. When some of these systems were put in place, they were due to becoming temporary measures viewed lockdown and the fact that people didn't use public transport. & # 39;
A spokesman for No. 10 said he would not comment on whether there was an offer to let the Prime Minister drive down Kensington High Street and that Mr Gilligan had "no recollection" of it.
He said: "Mr Gilligan had a brief and civil interview with a councilor in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea last week asking him to provide evidence that the council responded to, which he did."
He added that there was "no threat to funding, nor was the tone of the conversation" bullying "or" intimidation ".
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