Boris Johnson’s 2011/12 budget was approved this morning at an ill-tempered meeting of the London Assembly during which one Assembly Member was expelled from the meeting having ignored warnings about his conduct.
The budget sets out spending plans for the Greater London Authority and its functional bodies, including Transport for London and the capital’s fire authority, as well as the Met Police.
Today’s public meeting saw the Mayor and Labour AM John Biggs engage in a bad-tempered exchange over police numbers which culminated in Mr Biggs being excluded from part of the meeting after accusing Johnson of telling “a barefaced lie” in claiming he was delivering an increase in officers.
AUDIO: THE MAYOR’S INTRODUCTION TO HIS BUDGET
City Hall says there will be 32,510 full-time Met police officers in post next year which Johnson says is higher than the number he inherited from Ken Livingstone in 2008 and is the result of an extra £42m being invested in the force.
Labour accuses the Mayor of “spinning” the figures and says official Met figures show numbers are set to fall from 33,258 in February 2010, a highpoint it credits to Livingstone’s final 2008/09 budget.
In a statement issued ahead of the meeting Mr Biggs claimed “under Boris Johnson and this government numbers will go down and the progress we have made in tackling crime and reducing the fear of crime could well now be reversed.”
Green Party AM Jenny Jones said the Mayor had “spun a positive story” for himself by “comparing budgeted officer numbers for next year – which rarely reflect the reality – with the actual numbers currently in the force”.
AUDIO: JENNY JONES ACCUSES THE MAYOR OF PLAYING WITH FIGURES
The morning’s meeting was the final stage in the Assembly’s scrutiny of the 2011/12 budget which, following the failure of amendments proposed by the Conservative, Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat groups, was approved by AMs.
After the meeting LibDem AM Mike Tuffrey accused the Mayor of drawing up a budget “focused solely on next year’s election.”
Although the Assembly approved the Mayor’s budget, a majority of AMs passed a non-binding motion calling on him to reconsider his decision to remove 100 Sergeants from the Met’s Safer Neighbourhood Teams.
Opponents of the move say the Mayor should await the outcome of a review of the teams before altering their composition.
In a statement the Mayor, who has frozen City Hall’s share of the council tax for a third year, said it was “the duty of politicians to provide the best level of service, without burdening people with unreasonable levels of taxation.”
AUDIO: HEAR JOHN BIGGS AND BORIS JOHNSON CLASH