Labour members on the London Assembly have been criticised for failing to offer an alternative to Boris Johnson’s final City Hall budget despite repeatedly voicing opposition to the mayor’s policies.
On Wednesday the Assembly held a vote on Mr Johnson’s final 2016/17 spending plans which sets the budgets for the Met, Transport for London, fire brigade and other City Hall agencies.
Traditionally each party on the Assembly brings forward a costed alternative budget which they hope to persuade other groups to back in place of the mayor’s.
Although the requirement to achieve the backing of two-thirds of Assembly Members makes it almost impossible to amend the mayor’s spending plans, the debate around each group’s alternative allows them to set out their own priorities for the capital.
Despite the proximity of this year’s mayoral election the Labour group failed to bring forward an alternative budget, a decision opponents say was made on the orders of their mayoral candidate, Sadiq Khan.
Mr Khan was seen meeting with Assembly colleagues at City Hall last night and later issued a press release claiming that Mr Johnson’s tabled budget “will not deliver for Londoners”.
Yet it’s claimed that Labour’s staff at City Hall had spent “weeks” drawing up fully costed alternative spending plans which were abandoned following the meeting where Khan and colleagues found themselves unable to agree common positions on a number of key issues.
With no agreement in place, it’s been suggested that Khan insisted his colleagues drop their planned amendments.
Stephen Knight, a Lib Dem AM, claimed Labour’s plans had been torn up & shredded “on the orders of” Mr Khan and said the party’s position was “financially illiterate”, accusing them of accepting the mayor’s spending plans in an “attempt to out-Tory Tories.”
Party colleague and Lib Dem mayoral candidate Caroline Pidgeon claimed her Labour opponents had “let down London by not amending mayor’s budget.”
Tory AM Gareth Bacon said: ”It is shameful that after 8 years of sniping and criticising Boris Johnson and the Conservative administration, the Labour Group have absolutely no alternative policies to put forward.
“This shows that London Labour are full of empty rhetoric and completely devoid of any solution to make Londoners’ lives better.”
“With the election imminent, could it be that they don’t want to admit to putting up tax, are in a muddle on fares policy and are clueless on police? If they cannot get their act together at this crucial time, they are not capable of running London”.