I gave Mayor Johnson the benefit of the doubt over Monday’s chaos in snow-bound London. However, if the expected snowfall promised for tomorrow/Saturday materialises AND there is chaos again, it will be harder for him to escape the blame this time.
Some suggested that Mayor Johnson had been too busy writing his Daily Telegraph article last Sunday to check that the London borough councils had the appropriate number of gritting lorries ready to roll and at least ensure that the major routes were open so that the bus network could operate. Maybe he did or maybe he didn’t. If he did, no doubt he was assured that it was all going to be alright. Even if he didn’t, he might reasonably have assumed that with the amount of warning that had been given of the bad weather, the various councils would have got their act together.
This time, those excuses will not be sufficient.
There is ample evidence from last Monday that the London Boroughs hadn’t got proper plans in place and, if they gave Mayor Johnson assurances that they had (assuming he asked), he now knows that those assurances aren’t worth very much.
What is more we have been warned all week that a second wave of heavy snow is likely, if not certain.
London Councils have now said that they have sufficient grit supplies to last the next few days, and that grit supplies will continue to be replenished – but, given the record of last Monday, is that enough reassurance?
By Tuesday of this week, Mayor Johnson was so confident that the situation was under control that he turned up unexpectedly at the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee. (He originally had been let off attending because he would be too busy keeping London functioning during the snow, but even after the Committee Chairman had announced at the beginning of the meeting that the Mayor would not be attending he showed up 90 minutes later. It may be that his appearance was intended to deflect attention from what had been happening on the streets of London because he started a few other hares running …….)
So on the basis of all that can we assume it is all going to be OK, if the snow comes again in heavy quantities?
I hear, in fact, that the Councils are running short of grit and that it is at least possible that chaos will occur again. If it does, the Mayor will look at best complacent and gullible and at worst incompetent.