London Assembly members have called for the capital’s tourism and promotions agency to be opened up to greater public scrutiny following an increase in its City Hall grant.
Although established as a private company, London & Partners enjoys the status of being the capital’s only official promotions agency and is reliant on public funding to carry out its work.
Under its 2017-18 business plan, UK public sector and EU grants accounted for more than half its expected £26m income, with just £6.6m of the overall sum expected to be raised through its own commercial activities.
In the coming year its City Hall grant will rise to £13.7m – up £1.8m on the previous year.
Despite being heavily dependent on taxpayers for so much of its funding, London & Partners is exempt from public sector transparency rules, including Freedom of Information laws.
Although the organisation did agree to publish details of its procurement and expenses policies, Assembly Members say it is still failing to provide enough information about how it uses taxpayer funds.
In a motion agreed today, they call on Mayor Sadiq Khan to use his position as L&P’s largest funder to secure greater accountability.
Dr Onkar Sahota AM, who proposed the motion said: “London & Partners plays a vital role in promoting the capital’s interests across the UK and across the Globe.
“It’s not just Londoners that will benefit from a strong, resilient London economy, but the whole country too.
“It’s essential that London & Partners carry out their role with greater transparency and accountability, and we’ll not let up until we’re sure that is happening.”
Caroline Pidgeon AM added: “London & Partners has a vital job to do in continuing to promote London in a highly competitive world.
“We should not be complacent over the number of tourists that choose to visit London.
“We also can’t afford to be complacent with the number of international students that decide to study in London, or the number of international businesses that decide to invest in London.”
“However, London & Partners’ important role is no excuse for secrecy as to how they operate. Public funding should lead to full public accountability.”
Conservative spokesperson Andrew Boff called for the “secretive” organisation to be abolished, questioning whether it added any value given London’s pre-existing global appeal.
"We are fooling ourselves in thinking London and Partners does ANYTHING useful!" @AndrewBoff delivers an animated and impassioned plea to scrap @LondonPartners, handed another £13.7m from City Hall this year to "promote a city that is already a world brand" #Budget pic.twitter.com/QM1omIi39l
— GLA Conservatives (@Assembly_Tories) 22 February 2018