Mayor Boris Johnson is to spend £20,000 for City Hall staff to attend a series of public debates and discussions at which their own colleagues are speaking about his policies.
City Hall has doubled the amount it pays to sponsor the New London Architecture forum which describes itself as “an independent forum for discussion, debate and information about architecture, planning, development and construction in the capital.”
According to City Hall documents, “a number of different teams across the [Greater London Authority], as well as the Mayor’s office, have become increasingly involved in participating and speaking” at events organised by NLA.
These include several of the mayor’s deputies as well as senior staff responsible for his planning, housing and education policies.
The documents reveal that NLA asked City Hall officials to upgrade their sponsorship of the forum to that of “Principal Sponsor” in order “to reflect the increasing involvement across the wider GLA and to enable GLA teams to access the expanded range of benefits from this.”
Stated benefits include an allocation of tickets to NLA events, including those where members of the mayor’s team will be speaking, invitations to networking events, a subscription to the NLA’s magazine and a “50% discount” on additional tickets.
The GLA will also get a discount on tickets for an awards lunch and, despite City Hall having its own “prestigious” reception venue with “breath-taking” views of the capital, the chance to use the NLA’s gallery for evening events.
A document requesting approval for the expenditure claims that the increased sponsorship level “will allow wider access from across the GLA to the range of benefits available.”
London Assembly member Darren Johnson said: “I am bemused about why the Mayor’s office are spending money on tickets to the New London Architecture forum when their main justification is that Mayoral Advisors and officers often speak there.”
He added: “It sounds like they are spending £20,000 on an echo chamber for City Hall types.”