Cuts to budgets are forcing City Hall’s agencies to reassess how they deliver public services and, in some cases, improving co-operation between them as they seek to squeeze every penny of value from the taxpayers’ money.
Last week London Assembly Members heard how the Met Police and London Fire Brigade are exploring ways to avoid duplication in their river services and share costs.
And the Met is working with Transport for London to merge Safer Transport Command, which polices the bus & transport network and which is part-funded (£89.67 in 2013/14) by TfL, and the Met’s Traffic Command.
By the end of the year the two will have been reformed into a new Roads and Transport Policing Command which will be responsible for investigating fatal or serious road collisions, reducing crime and anti-social behaviour on the capital’s road and bus networks and enforcing HGV regulations.
It will also be tasked with making roads safer by identifying dangerous drivers and vehicles and reducing cycling-related road collisions and improving cycle safety.
A Met spokesperson tells me the new team will work “in partnership” with TfL, which will continue to provide funding, to deliver the Mayor’s priorities and manifesto commitments.
However it’s been suggested that the two organisations are yet to agree what each will receive in return for their money and that project managers are still working to identify the mix of resources needed to oversee the new Command’s responsibilities.
The Met’s official line is that “work has already begun to ensure the correct resources are in place, ready for it to be launched at the end of 2014.”
But with the Mayor understood to be officially announcing the merger next month, the partners are working to an immovable deadline – never good for complex negotiations.
Scotland Yard claim the merger will create a “more efficient and cost-effective service”.
Greens on the London Assembly tell me that although the potential for savings should be explored, they want assurances that the merger won’t lead to significantly less funding or resources at a time when the number of vulnerable road users being killed or seriously injured is on the rise.
A broadly supportive Jenny Jones AM tells me: “Operation Safeway showed that the merger of the road traffic police with the much larger Transport police is an opportunity to launch big, targeted enforcement actions against people breaking the rules of the road.”
But the ever watchful Peer wants Boris to “pay attention” to the discussions between TfL and the Met and ensure the right priorities are reflected in the contract between his two outposts.
She says: “The Mayor should be insisting that action on road crime and the enforcement of 20mph areas is part of the contract agreed between the Met Police and Transport for London.
“If the Mayor doesn’t pay attention to what priorities emerge from this merger, then we could find that there are even fewer police officers enforcing the rules of the road as other things again take priority.”
Expect a flurry of questions to Boris, his policing deputy and TfL on this subject.