Last week was budget week for the London Mayor and Assembly. The budget was discussed at Mayor’s Question Time on Tuesday and the Mayor had a go at the Conservatives’ proposals to curtail young persons bus concessions in particular, see previous posting. The final vote will take place on 14th February but is a foregone conclusion as the Greens have already been bought for £47 million, see previous posting.
The debate was covered well by the London Salmon blog so I won’t try to repeat that work. Having seen the alternative Tory budget talked about I looked for it online and failed to find it. On Friday the Tory group chief of staff, Darren Bryant, e-mailed it over and said it would be OK to publish it – here it is.
It is a very well worked through document and deserves a wider readership than it will get. It shows how easy it would be to deliver a standstill budget this year while still increasing police numbers as planned. It also made provision for 600 more transport police.
I was pleased to see the Tory group making use of figures I had extracted from the Mayor on how the Londoner was funded – the alternative budget returned all of the Londoner tax back to the GLA bodies so that there could be more police, cheaper fares and more useful economic development rather than wasting £3 million per annum on telling Londoners how great Livingstone is.
The budget clearly points out how the Mayor has increased his impost by 147.1% since he came to power and shows how the low paid need to toil for two weeks to pay this bill. The budget astutely points out that the real increase in the precept is 5.7% not the headline 5.3% as the £20 Olympic levy should not be included in the base. Rather than trying to give a point by point commentary I would recommend a quick read yourself – it really is quite digestible.
As I said earlier the Mayor has had a go at the Tory proposal to take away the current young persons’ concessions on the busses. The other line of attack from the Mayor was his defence of his typically self-aggrandising plans for a London celebration of the abolition of slavery. I don’t suppose that the celebration will dwell on the facts of how the largest military power in the world, spurred on by a Christian religious revival, used its naval might to destroy an obvious evil. Maybe the US Neo-Conservatives are simply not ambitious enough! The Mayor’s hysterical press release is just designed to please the overpaid Lee Jasper and no-one else. The silliest line is:
The headlines in every national newspaper and TV news report this week have shown that there is a major attack on the Muslim communities in this country.
Funny, I thought that the police were attacking Islamic terrorists who were plotting to kill a British soldier on video. The Mayor thinks that black is white but if he spends enough of our money on broadcasting his upside down views, £100 million a year, then we will all lose our reason. The actual, unspun Conservative proposal was:
This year the Mayor has also included £275,000 to commemorate the bicentenary of the slave trade abolition. Whilst we view this as a valuable commemoration to be undertaken, we view it as more appropriate that this event should have been provided and paid for by central Government as a national commemoration rather than by regional Government, especially in light of the £500,000 capital grant from DCMS and the £1.65m award from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool. We also rather recognise that the funding should preferably have been spent on combating the modern day slave trade and note that had this money been provided to the MPS it would pay for an additional four specialist anti-trafficking Officers – a 50% increase on the current number.
Rather than puffing himself the Mayor might want to spend any spare cash on real people in distress right now. I guess young eastern European women being trafficked for prostitution is not a “left-wing” issue so the Mayor does not give a toss.