Why won’t Boris make London & Partners open its books?

London_PartnersJust opposite City Hall, also located on the More London estate, are the offices of London & Partners, the capital’s tourist agency which was established by Mayor Boris Johnson in 2011.

The Mayor provides the majority of L&P’s funding – last year he gave it £13.7m, almost three times the £5m received from commercial income – and earlier this week put his name to a document guaranteeing another £11.18m of public funding.

But if Londoners ask how that cash is used, specifically how much of it is claimed in expenses and hospitality by senior management and board members, L&P politely tell them to go away.

In March I was told: “as a private company limited by guarantee we are not required to divulge details of our board and senior management expenses and hospitality.”

But it’s not just journalists who get the brush-off.

In May, London Assembly Member Darren Johnson asked Boris is he would “order” L&P to make the expenses available.

In response Boris said: “I am committed to running a transparent administration and I encourage London & Partners to follow best practice. As London & Partners is set up as a company with its own Board, it will be up to the Board how they do that.”

But Boris can’t get shed his responsibilities to Londoners so easily.

While it’s true that the botched establishment of L&P left him only able to send an observer to board meetings, Boris’s status as L&P’s chief bankroller gives him enormous control over it.

In order to get its hands on the buckets of cash it needs to keep operating, L&P must get the Mayor to approve its business plan each and every year that it wants funding.

That plan not only “builds from the L&P three-year strategy, which was signed off by the Mayor in March 2012” but is “discussed…with senior GLA staff to ensure alignment with mayoral priorities and plans.”

As Boris told Darren, one of his priorities is “running a transparent administration”, so why won’t he insist L&P adopt a new transparency code as part of that alignment and show Londoners how their cash is being used?