Farce as Assembly votes not to quiz Mayor over budget

city_hall_chamber_2013Scrutiny of Boris Johnson’s £14bn budget was curtailed this morning after London Assembly members voted not to question the Mayor over his plans for the coming financial year.

Assembly Members were set to quiz the Mayor on his 2013/14 budget, which includes cuts to police and fire budgets which will herald major reforms to both services.

However Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green AMs voted to scrap questions after Conservative Victoria Borwick was absent for the Mayor’s opening statement.

The groups had hoped to amend the budget to scrap a planned 7p per week cut in City Hall’s share of the council tax to provide extra funding for the fire service, avoiding the closure of stations and axing of fire engines.

Borwick’s continued absence would have given opposition groups the two-thirds majority needed to pass the amendment.

However she arrived in the chamber just minutes after AMs agreed not to question the Mayor and move on to vote on the budget and amendments. Her presence allowed the Mayor’s budget to pass unamended.

Earlier on Monday Johnson said the budget would support regeneration, deliver jobs and improve the quality of life for Londoners.

After the meeting the Mayor said: “It is vital that we boost economic growth and create the jobs that we need to help lift this city and country out of our current economic difficulties.

“Businesses will only want to invest here if they see us offering the best quality of life for a major world city. That means building more houses, making London safer and continuing with crucial infrastructure projects like the upgrade of the Tube and Crossrail.”

Stephen Knight, Liberal Democrat London Assembly budget spokesperson, said the failure to amend the budget was “a sad day for London’s emergency services.”

Labour’s Len Duvall accused Mr Johnson of “needlessly cutting frontline fire services and jeopardising the safety and security of people in our city.”

The Mayor did agree with include a proposal by the Conservative group on the Assembly to spend £300,000 on tackling homelessness among former UK armed forced personnel.

Gareth Bacon AM said he and his colleagues were “thrilled that the Mayor has taken on board this important issue and that action will be taken in the coming year to help some of the most vulnerable people in London”.

Comments

  1. Damian Hockney says

    Colin, surely it was simply tactical – if you are in opposition, it is far more effective for you to actually vote to amend the Budget than to ask questions which, in essence, are ignored by the Mayor (any Mayor, not just this one). They might have achieved it. They had the chance to do so because a Tory Am was not present and there is a requirement of a two thirds majority of those present to be able to amend. At that point those wishing to amend had a two thirds majority to am end in the room and it would have been irresponsible for them NOT to have tried. The Tories themselves have used those tactics in the past in other places (and there is nothing to say that anyone should not).