Senior staff at London’s tourism and promotions agency could be forced to declare their salary, gifts and hospitality received, as well details of how decisions are made.
London Assembly members have recently expressed concern at the secrecy surrounding London & Partners which was set-up as a private business by Mayor Boris Johnson in 2011.
Its status means it’s exempt from local government transparency rules and freedom of information laws which the rest of the Mayor’s empire must adhere to.
Fresh questions have been raised about London & Partners’ accountability following recent media questions about its involvement in a £1bn deal to redevelop the Royal Albert Docks.
Last month the organisation refused to co-operate with an Assembly investigation into high pay within the Greater London Authority and its agencies.
Appearing before Assembly members, the Mayor said he was unaware the organisation had refused to provide the information and re-iterated past commitments to ensuring transparency around the use of public money.
Earlier this month the entire Assembly agreed a motion calling for the agency to be opened up to public scrutiny.
In addition to the motion, Labour Assembly member Fiona Twycross wrote to the Mayor to express concern at the lack of information surrounding London & Partners’ use of its public grant.
Mr Johnson has previously refused to attach transparency requirements to his funding, but his most senior aide has now suggested that such commitments could be made a condition of London & Partners’ 2015/16 allocation.
Responding to Dr Twycross’s letter, Sir Eddie Lister, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, says “consideration is currently being given to the possibility of London & Partners publishing further details in relation to:
- Board decision-making;
- Businesses planning and key performance indicator data; and
- Senior staff remuneration and declarations of gifts and hospitality.”
Sir Edward says if agreement can be reached the changes would come into effect at the start of the next financial year.
Commenting on his letter, Dr Twycross said: “London and Partners does an important job promoting the capital’s interests but whilst it takes taxpayer money it cannot be exempt from democratic scrutiny.
“Given it is the Assembly, not the Mayor, who approves London and Partners’ budget, the idea Assembly Members are expected to sign that off without any idea how London and Partners will spend it is bizarre.”