Value for Money

MQT on 2002-05-22
Session date: 
May 22, 2002
Question By: 
Eric Ollerenshaw
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor



Answer for Value for Money

Answer for Value for Money

Answered By: 
The Mayor


Eric should actually bear in mind this is not £9 billion over two years that wasn't happening before, i.e. the police were consuming about £2 billion a year before the Mayoral system was set up. I'm glad to say they're now consuming a bit more and it's going into an extra 1,050 police in my first budget and at least 1,250 police in the second.

The position on transport is that the annual expenditure of TfL was about £630 million in the year before the Mayoral election. We pushed that up to £700 million. We are now locked into substantial increases. A large part of that increase is the increase in contract prices for the bus system. We take the lowest bid, but clearly contracts that were set five years ago when petrol prices and wage levels were dramatically different are going to be changed now. A substantial part of the increase in transport is linked to a dramatic improvement in buses. We've got a 6% year-on-year increase in rider-ship. This has been consistently going now. We've got 200 extra buses each year going on the road. We're bringing in bendy-buses and experimenting with environmentally cleaner buses to improve the quality of our bus service. We're running as many bus miles as in 1965 and carrying as many passengers as in 1975 and we've cut the fares. So, on the two things where I've some direct control there have been dramatic improvements.

Equally, when you come to look at planning, and this is, I think, Mr Tuffrey's question later on, a dramatic improvement in the supply of affordable housing, which is beginning to spin off in a number of areas.

So, yes, I think people have got very good value for money from the new system and the only weakness is where the Mayor hasn't got the powers to act, which invariably takes a lot longer. If I'd had the power that the Liberal Party campaigned for the Mayor to have, the ability to raise funds, we would already be building the extension of the East London line. We'd be much farther ahead towards Crossrail.

I don't think that most people take that; it certainly isn't reflected in the most recent poll rating that we had by the Evening Standard that showed that satisfaction with me was up 5%.

I heard this morning Ian Duncan Smith said that the failure in the education system in Britain was that it was centralised; you needed to devolve. All around the world almost every other Mayoral system has more power. I'm sure we will get there. It's a question of slowly prising real devolution out of central government and Whitehall. This is a nervous, timid start, but it's important we make it work and encourage it and develop it and in 25 years' time I'm sure my successors will have powers much more like those of an American mayor, if not the Mayor of Moscow, and London will be much better run. But the biggest significant factor is, since we have had a government for London, we have identified what's happening. Nobody seemed to know that our population was soaring; no one was making that case.

We've now got the government accepting they'll base the grant settlement, not just for the GLA, but for all London boroughs, on the population of 7.4 million. If that feeds itself into grant calculations in the coming year that will be a huge benefit for all Londoners. .