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TSSA issues notice of ticket office ballot as transport watchdog reports ‘mixed picture’

The TSSA has announced it is balloting members over the closure of ticket offices on the Underground, while the deputy chair of London TravelWatch told the London Assembly’s transport committee that a review of the changes has found a “mixed picture”.

Manuel Cortes, the union’s general secretary, wrote to London Underground (LU) giving it notice of the ballot, which opens on 18 November and runs until 29 November.

The ballot will be issued to 540 TSSA members, who will vote on whether to take industrial action over the impact of ticket office closures on station staffing levels and staff safety.

Separately, John Stewart, deputy chair and policy committee chair at London TravelWatch, appeared before the London Assembly transport committee to answer questions about an ongoing review of ticket office closures that is being carried out.

Stewart said: “We’ve seen a bit of a mixed picture.

“While there is a lot of satisfaction with the changes, I think there are particular stations across the network where some things are not working as well as they should do.”

The review is due to be submitted to London mayor Sadiq Khan, who commissioned it, by 30 November. Khan then has six months to publish the report, or it will be published automatically by transport watchdog.

Stewart argued that the review would be “a useful contribution to pushing things forward” but had raised particular areas of concern, such as the possibility that there weren’t enough staff to carry out security checks.

Steve Griffiths, chief operating officer of LU, told the committee that he was “monitoring” the impact of the closures on security.

He added that the closures, introduced as part of TfL’s Fit for the Future strategy, would “take some time to really embed”.

Griffiths said LU would need to “invest heavily” with its staff to help them cope with the “big change” of the closures, and that the operator was being “absolutely relentless” in reviewing the impact of the changes.

He said the closures would ultimately deliver the benefits of more “front-facing” services and £50m savings a year.

Stewart also defended the London TravelWatch report from committee members’ concerns that it would not be objective because TfL is providing £33,000 of funding.

“We’re very clear when we discussed with TfL and the mayor that although they’re funding it, and although we agreed an outline brief, from then on it’s our report – and at the end of the day, they don’t have the final day on what we’ve found on our report or our recommendations,” he said.

Mark Evers, director of customer strategy at LU, also noted that mystery shopper exercises looking at the closures had produced “overall quite positive” results.

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