Johnson defies snow on Boston visit


Published: Monday 9th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Boris Johnson has decided to press ahead with a trade visit to Boston in the face of treacherous weather warnings.

London’s mayor has arrived in Boston for the start of a tour of America’s East Coast as the city announced a parking ban and advised people to stay at home while preparations were made to cope with a predicted extra two foot of snow.

The city has already been hit by record levels of snowfall over a seven-day period and parked cars have been completely covered.

Mr Johnson’s team had been busy putting in place contingency plans to cut the Boston leg – due to run until Tuesday – of his US tour short to prevent the mayor and his trade delegation being stranded.

But, after a conference call with officials in Boston, the mayor decided yesterday that he wanted to stick to the planned schedule where possible.

Mr Johnson kicked-off his six-day visit with a walkabout in sub-zero temperatures around Boston’s “big dig” regeneration project, which saw major highways diverted underground, and announced proposals to redesign key London road networks.

Intensive work will now begin at five locations in the capital that could have stretches of tunnels or so-called fly-unders developed to allow regeneration in the city, including at the A4 in Hammersmith, the A13 in Barking Riverside, the A3 in Tolworth, the A316 at Chalkers Corner and the A406 in New Southgate.

Mr Johnson said the Boston scheme had helped improve air quality and speed up traffic but raised the prospect of imposing tolls on some of the proposed London schemes to help fund them.

“It’s the sort of thing we can do in Hammersmith where the A4 is a very old mouldering flyover, which we could take underground, releasing a huge amount of land that could be turned into a park, several parks, and other amenities, plus releasing a lot of land for housing,” he said.

“You could use some of the proceeds from that housing to pay for it and you would probably also have to look at tolling as well.”

The mayor’s focus will turn to the terror threat posed by Islamic State (IS, also known as Isis and Isil) during the planned New York City stretch of the tour.

Mr Johnson will discuss the impact the jihadists have had on security with former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and New York City police chief Bill Bratton, once floated as a possible Metropolitan Police commissioner.

He said: “Hillary Clinton is a very distinguished American leader and we’ll be discussing with her issues of common interest, such as how you handle terrorism, how a great city like London has to face up to the returnees from the Isil area in the Middle East and basically how we can ensure that people like Hillary Clinton, who are going to be leading America for a long time to come, continue to regard London as their number one ally and partner and the place to come and invest.”

Published: Monday 9th February 2015 by The News Editor

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