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TfL reverses firm £100m commitment to extending tram network from Wimbledon to Sutton, Sutton Guardian 8th December

Transport for London (TfL) has pulled the plug on its firm commitment to spending £100m for the proposed Sutton tram extension.

TfL's draft 2016/17 budget and business plan said it had earmarked the cash to extend the network from South Wimbledon to Sutton town centre.

But Mayor of London Sadiq Khan today said the cash would now be reallocated, and suggested money could now only be available through a central TfL Growth Fund.

The fund was made available by TfL to support small-scale transport infrastructure schemes in London boroughs.

Money could be allocated from the £200m fund should agreement on an acceptable business case be reached with the borough.

But TfL’s business plan, revealed today, made clear that there is no longer a firm commitment to extend the tram to Sutton.

Steve O’Connell, Greater London Authority (GLA) member for Sutton and Croydon, said the commitment reversal is “slap in the face” for the borough’s commuters.

He said: “This is devastating news for commuters and a disgraceful reversal of the commitment made by Boris less than 12 months ago.

“From having guaranteed funding we will now be forced to join the queue and compete with dozens of other projects across London. It is a slap in the face for the people of Croydon and Sutton.

“Sutton is the only London borough to have no tube station, no Crossrail station, no London Overground station, no proposed Crossrail 2 station, and now the Mayor has all but killed off hopes of a tram network.”

The business plan, unveiled today, reads: “It [the TfL Growth Fund] could possibly make a contribution towards an extension of the tram network from Wimbledon to Sutton, should agreement on an acceptable business case and funding package be reached with the borough."

When the draft business plans was published, and the £100m was earmarked, TfL made clear that even with the funding there would be a shortfall to be addressed.

The report said the extension would only go ahead if further funding could be found for the long-awaited project, estimated to cost about £240m.

The report read: "We are working closely with the boroughs to develop an understanding of the case for extending the tram to Sutton, how this could be funded and delivered, and in what timescale."

The GLA has previously demanded authorities commit to building 10,000 homes in return for the tram extension.

Mr O’Connell added: "I will not be giving up the fight for this important infrastructure and I intend to pursue the Mayor on this and get a full explanation for this extremely disappointing decision."

Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member, also raised concerns about the project.

She said: “There is much in this new business plan that is very welcome, such as the commitment to continued upgrades to the Tube, the extension of the Bakerloo Line.

She added: "However, not every aspect of today’s announcement is clear cut. There appears to be no firm commitment to extending the tram to Sutton for example."

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