Today the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Groups on the London Assembly agreed to alter the Mayor of London’s draft budget. The alteration, known formally as a ‘Technical Amendment’, forces the Mayor to review his budget. This is the first time for a decade this power has been used.
The changes made will force the Mayor to review freezing the council tax precept, rather than cutting it by 7pence per week for an average household. This would raise £9.4 million which will be used to keep all of London’s fire stations open and maintain police front counter provision across London.
London Assembly Labour Budget Spokesperson, who moved the amendment, John Biggs AM said:
“Boris has a clear choice, he can either cut council tax by 7 pence a week, or he can freeze it and use the money to keep our fire stations and police front counters open. By axing 12 fire stations and 18 fire engines Boris is jeopardising the safety and security of Londoners. We have altered his budget with a fully costed plan to keep these much needed front line services. Boris is always around for a photo opportunity or to blame the government for his own failings, now its time for him to make a decision and save our emergency services.
“Boris has cut his share of the council tax by 7 pence a week per household, but at the same time has whacked up fares above inflation for the fifth year running. He must be stupid to think Londoners won’t notice this wheeze. It’s time for Boris to get serious and stand up for London rather than appealing to the shires.”
Liberal Democrat Budget Spokesperson Stephen Knight AM said:
"Today's vote shows that the majority of elected London Assembly Members fundamentally disagree with the Mayor's disastrous proposals for closing fire stations and police counters.
"We have united to amend the Mayor’s budget to protect London's emergency services rather than offering a trivial 7p a week cut in council tax.
"The Mayor must now think again. However, if he seeks to overturn this amendment then it will be crystal clear to Londoners that his attack on London's emergency services is unnecessary and ideologically driven.”
Leader of the Green Group Jenny Jones AM said:
“Londoners are suffering enough from the Government's failed austerity programe of cuts, without the Mayor adding to the pain. The safety of Londoners should come before gimmicks like a 1p a day council tax reduction. I welcome this cross party attempt to stop the cuts to fire stations and several hundred fire fighters."