Sadiq Khan has been criticised after blaming non-political City Hall civil servants for failures in a consultation on police station closures.
As reported earlier this week, the consultation by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime was severely criticised by the independent Consultation Institute.
Challenged during Mayor’s Question Time over the body’s report, Mr Khan said he disagreed with its conclusions but added he’s asked policing deputy mayor Sophie Linden to meet with its staff “to see if there are lessons we can learn going forward”.
Pushing the Mayor on the detail of the criticisms, Conservative London Assembly Member Steve O’Connell said they go into “perhaps more detail than some of your officers maybe brief you on” and highlighted concerns relating to failures of transparency and the posing of leading questions to respondents.
In response Mr Khan replied: “one of the problems when you use the same officers as Boris Johnson uses they use the same tactics, I suppose.”
While each Mayor is allowed to appoint a small number of political advisers, the overwhelming majority of staff at City Hall are non-political civil servants whose service often spans Mayoralties and whose employment status means they lack any public right of reply.
Today’s comments are the latest attempt by Mr Khan to distance himself from the consultation.
In September he tried ducking responsibility for a series of public meetings held so Londoners could have their say on the closures, telling Assembly Members they were “organised locally” by councils and individual Met borough commanders, despite the closures forming part of his own Police and Crime Plan.
Speaking after today’s meeting, Mr O’Connell said: “It’s extremely disappointing that Sadiq Khan today chose to cast blame on his own staff rather than take responsibility for the failings of his police station consultation.
“It was a display of poor leadership from a Mayor who has refused to listen to the public on this issue. An independent body labelled the consultation ‘one of the worst of 2017’ – that is the Mayor’s responsibility and one he must accept.
“Today he was given a chance to reflect on his shortcomings. Having exhausted every excuse, he eventually hid behind voiceless civil servants. His staff, and Londoners, deserve better.”