Mayor of London Boris Johnson has named businessman Tim Parker as his new Chief of Staff and ‘Chief Executive’ of the GLA Group, City Hall announced earlier today.
Mr Parker is a successful businessman credited with turning around the fortunes of companies as diverse as the AA, Kwik-Fit, Clarks and Kenwood and has also served as a board member of the Audit Commission and a Regional Development Agency and as chairman of the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund.
Although Mr Parker’s position is one of ten posts open to the Mayor to appoint the London Assembly is entitled to hold a non-binding confirmation hearing.
City Hall officials have been keen to stress that Mr Parker, who takes up his new post on July 7th, has agreed to take only a nominal salary of £1 per year.
Mayor Johnson has also indicated that he will nominate Parker to be Chairman of Transport for London from 1st September 2008 when the Mayor will step down from that position.
In a statement issued by the Mayor’s office Mr Parker said: “I relish this opportunity to bring out the best in the GLA Group. I’ve spent my career taking over struggling companies and making them strong. I see wonderful opportunities to transform the infrastructure of London and deliver better services to Londoners.”
”Throughout my business career, I have been accountable to exacting shareholders. In my new role, my shareholders will be the taxpayers of London. Throughout my career I have tried to focus companies on the core product demanded by consumers. My core products now will be the key services vital to Londoners. I feel honoured to be offered the opportunity and look forward to taking up my post in July.”
Although an unelected employee of the Greater London Authority Mr Parker has also been granted the title of ‘First Deputy Mayor’.
By law the constitutional Deputy Mayor of London must be an elected member of the London Assembly and the post is currently filled by Richard Barnes. Appearing before the London Assembly yesterday Mr Johnson was forced to admit that all other deputy mayor titles he’s granted are merely honourific.
Trade Unions and politicians have reacted negatively to the announcement.
Labour’s leader on the London Assembly Len Duvall: “Londoners need to know who is actually running their city. Is it Boris Johnson, who yesterday did not know that one of his deputies has been making major planning decisions on his behalf? Or is it his coterie of unelected appointees? The Mayor should be doing the job he was elected to do, not leaving it to his unelected backroom advisers while he writes his £250,000 a year Daily Telegraph column and looks after his constituents in Oxfordshire.”
“The whole appointment process is becoming more and more bizarre by the day. We now have a First Deputy Mayor, three notional deputy mayors and a statutory Deputy Mayor whose responsibilities seem extremely vague to say the least. There is a genuine lack of clarity about their respective remits. Londoners need to know who is running this show as it’s looking less and less like Boris Johnson.”
“The chair of the London Assembly is already considering taking legal counsel as to the propriety of Mr Parker’s appointment and it is rumoured that a number of other people were approached for this position before him but turned it down. At the very best it looks farcical.”
Former Mayor Ken Livingstone: “The appointment of Tim Parker as first deputy Mayor shows clearly the path of decline of London represented by Boris Johnson’s administration. Mr Parker’s record as a downsizing cost-cutter is the exact reverse of the management of large-scale investment projects London requires.”
”His record of brutality and heartlessness towards workers in his own companies is totally unsuitable for dealing with the complex communities of London. With this appointment Boris Johnson admits his inability to run London and simultaneously his inability to chose anyone suitable to do so.”
RMT general secretary Bob Crow: “Tim Parker has a reputation as a private-equity asset-stripper and has been dubbed the Prince of Darkness by unions that have encountered his methods in the past. We are well aware of his track record, and Mr Parker has the opportunity to leave that reputation behind him when he starts work for the Mayor of London.”
“The world’s finest metro system does not need an asset-stripper or a Prince of Darkness, but it does need its modernisation programme put back on track if it is to be ready for the 2012 Olympics.”
“Tube users and workers have already had more than a bellyful of privatisation with the huge waste and failure of the PPP and the collapse of Metronet. The Tube needs public investment to improve it for Londoners and the restoration of Metronet’s contracts to public control will be a massive step along the right road.”
“RMT exists to improve its members’ living standards and to defend their jobs and conditions, and it will continue to do so.”