Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mayor's Budget Approved

I've just come out of this morning's meeting of the Assembly which saw the mayor take questions on his budget for an hour, followed by a debate around the alternatives proposed by the four parties. To amend the budget a majority of two thirds of the members is required.

Conservative Amendment

We support the mayor's budget which achieves an unprecedented council tax freeze for the second year running. However we suggested that in a year when many councils are cutting their costs, a similar gesture from the Assembly would be timely - in this case a 10% reduction in each group's political support budget. Unfortunately no support from the other groups, particularly the Greens who overspent this year...

Labour Amendment

In ten years this is the first time that Labour have moved a budget amendment. Highlights included:

£85,000 for an 'Uprise' anti racist music festival.
£40,000 for a London Rail Board.
£2,800,000 for speed cameras.

Funded by a raid on the Fire Brigade reserves and £15,000,000 income from retaining the Western Extension to the Congestion Charge Zone.

Labour support and Green abstention was insufficient to get this proposal adopted.

Lib Dem Amendment

The Lib Dems took an unusual tack by proposing to cut the council tax, largely by raiding the Fire Brigade reserves and saving £18,000,000 by retaining bendy buses on routes 18 and 149.

Spending proposals included £450,000 to embroider numerals and name badges on police officers' uniforms and £300,000 to develop a recycling scheme for bicycles.

Lib Dem support and Green abstention was also insufficient to get this approved.

Green Amendment

The small Green group proposed a more familiar budget:

£2,800,000 for speed cameras.
£3,000,000 for 20mph zones.
£4,000,000 for low carbon zones.

With savings achieved by retaining bendy buses, keeping the Congestion Charge Western Extension, cancelling work to improve traffic flow and cutting police overtime.

Nobody but the Greens supported this alternative.


For the most important vote of the year, the one occasion when the Assembly can actually wield its power, Richard Barnbrook was..........................................................ABSENT.

So the second 'Boris Budget' passes unamended and council tax is frozen for another year. We are urging the Mayor to commit to freezes for the rest of his term of office - or better still, reductions.


Peter Hulme Cross said...

It seems quite surprising that the "Rainbow Alliance" of Labour, Lib Dem, and Greens couldn't find a common position between them to propose an amendment to the Budget. It's not much of an "Alliance" if they can't get that far. In 2004 the Conservatives, Lib Dems, Greens and UKIP managed to agree on a proposal to challenge Ken Livingstone's draft Budget which resulted in him making a deal with the Greens that lasted as long as he was Mayor, as you probably remember.

Also I'm surprised they all think it is fine to raid the Fire Authority Reserves after the the difficulties faced by the Fire Authority to pay for new Appliances and equipment in the aftermath of the bombings in July 2005. They must have short memories!!

Roger Evans said...

Peter, thank you for the reminder about the first budget of Ken's last term - I had forgotten that all four parties reached an agreed alternative. It seems a prodigeous achievement in hindsight.

morris hickey said...

It would be unwise, in my view, to commit to "freezing" council tax (or, more accurately, the precept) for more than a year at a time. There is no certainty, especially in the days of a financial crisis, what revenue support grant will come in the future from central government. To commit beyond the next year could well become a hostage to fortune.