One policy which really excited me during this year’s City Hall elections was Boris Johnson’s vow to look at a fairer funding settlement for London.
I set out at length here why I think London has to “move away from ‘grants’ from central Government for essential services such as fire and police.”
“To continue to grow and prosper, London needs a long-term and binding funding settlement which gives us the freedom to drive forward ambitious plans without first having to ask remote, unaccountable Ministers for their blessing.”
I also highlighted the extra VAT collected during the Olympics as a source of money London could have benefited from but which will instead be scooped up by central Government, so I’m pleased the Commission Boris announced today will focus on how London can keep a share of any extra tax receipts.
This addresses the oft-made criticism that more funding for London would come at the expense of other, poorer areas.
The tragedy is that by rejecting their own Mayors in May, those other areas have most likely condemned themselves to decades of slower economic growth than cities with champions will enjoy.
Businesses will flock to those areas with a strong leader who has the personal mandate to deliver the support and infrastructure needed to promote and sustain growth.
By listening to the vested interests of the councils and parties which have repeatedly failed them, the Mayoral refuseniks have ensured they’ll have to sit and watch as the investment goes elsewhere.
I hope they’ll have an opportunity to correct that mistake soon.
Returning to home, the appointment of the LSE’s Tony Travers as head of his Commission suggests Boris is actually serious about this cause.
Travers is rightly widely respected, recommendations with his name on them will be hard to dismiss or ignore.
Boris’s critics should prepare themselves for the possibility that he might yet leave London better off then he found it.