Boris Johnson confirmed this morning that he’s standing down as Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority despite previously vowing to lead the fight against crime in the capital.
Mayor Johnson promised during the 2008 election to take advantage of new powers allowing him to chair the body, saying he would “provide strong leadership” on policing.
In his manifesto the Mayor wrote: “It is important for the Mayor to take a public lead, so I will chair the Metropolitan Police Authority. I will take personal responsibility. No offence will be too trivial to demand my attention. No challenge will be so big that I shrug my shoulders and pass the buck.”
However a statement issued by City Hall this morning said Johnson had decided to step down as part of a package of changes which will “reorganise and refocus his team to concentrate on the delivery and implementation of plans, developed over the last two years, to improve London.”
Mr Johnson has proposed that the MPA Vice-Chair Kit Malthouse replace him subject to a scrutiny hearing by the London Assembly. MPA member Reshard Auladin OBE has been proposed to succeed Malthouse as Vice-Chair.
City Hall’s statement claimed that despite the Mayor stepping down from the MPA, “the direct line of accountability between the Metropolitan Police Service and the people of London will remain with the Mayor who was democratically elected with a mandate over policing.”
Officials say the Mayor will focus his efforts on “having fortnightly meetings with the Commissioner and his senior staff, as well as embarking on a systematic programme of visits to crime hotspots in the capital, speaking directly to the people affected and the officers working on the ground.”
It has also been announced that Assembly Member James Cleverly is to replace the Mayor as Chair of the Waste and Recycling Board which oversees a budget of £84m budget and a number of initiatives to increase recycling in the capital.
In a statement issued by his office Mayor Johnson said: “Two years into my job as Mayor, I am increasingly confident that I have the right structures and policies in place and the best people with the vision and drive to truly make London the best big city in the world. To enable us to crack crime, give our young people the opportunities they deserve, clean up the environment and improve quality of life in our capital, we need a relentless, single-minded focus to drive home our advantage.”
“I firmly believe Kit Malthouse, Reshard Auladin OBE and James Cleverly have the credentials, commitment and rigorous determination to meet these challenges head on.”
Green Party AM and MPA Member Jenny Jones has criticised the Mayor for “backing out” of a promise to voters. Speaking after the Mayor informed the London Assembly of the changes, Ms Jones said: “The Mayor made a clear commitment to Londoners in his election manifesto to personally take charge of the Police Authority. He has now gone back on his word, realising that being both Mayor and chair of the MPA is just too much for one person to do properly. It was an ill thought out promise, and one that showed his lack of experience.”
“The Met are facing difficult times ahead, with budgets being cut in all areas. The chair of the MPA needs to take the time to understand this complex organisation to provide effective leadership. Boris Johnson has not really been involved from the beginning and perhaps feels it is time to stop pretending”.
There was condemnation also from Joanne McCartney, Labour’s policing spokesperson on the Assembly, who said: “This is another key election promise broken. Boris said the Mayor should be directly accountable for crime but, just as he plans to slash police numbers and funding, he cuts and runs. If he’s too busy maybe he should spend more time on London and less earning £250,000 a year from the Telegraph.”
Audio: Boris Johnson informs the London Assembly that he’s standing down from the MPA