LDA Projects (1) (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
November 14, 2007
Question By: 
John Biggs
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Chair, the Mayor has covered most of the points I wanted to cover. For the record, I am the Deputy Chairman of the London Development Agency. For the record also I think all of these projects were initiated before I became a Board Member of the London Development Agency, but I am very happy to stand behind every single one of them.

These are somewhat leading questions but would you agree with me - because it forms an important part of the record - that something approaching 500,000 people in London are employed in leisure, hospitality and cultural arts type businesses and that they have historically been under-funded and under-resourced and that we need to invest in those sectors if we are not to become overly reliant on financial and business services and if we are not going to develop areas of strength in important and under-represented areas of London's economy?

Would you agree with me also that the strength of a number of these projects is that they harness the strength and enterprise of BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) communities who have been under-represented and under-powered in London's economy and that is an important part of what we are doing?

More importantly then, given the focus of the scrutiny, would you agree with me also that one of the flaws in this scrutiny is that it tried to judge projects by criteria which were set after the projects had been initiated, so it is somewhat defective in its methodology?

Obviously it is not for you to tell us how to do our job, although I agree with you that I find it rather pathetic if Assembly Members are not clear what they are meant to be doing. They are £50,000 a year employees of the people of London. . I think that is an indictment of themselves rather than of the bodies they are meant to be investigating. Would you agree with me that good scrutiny does require a greater transparency in the relationship with the LDA, that we are always on a learning curve, we have opened up the LDA to a greater degree, there is a greater transparency, there is a greater understanding of what is going on and we would welcome constructive scrutiny which does not mean unquestioning, drooling scrutiny, but it does mean people not trying to ambush? To summarise what has happened with Deloitte, a bunch of Members have tried to wrap an ambush in a senior consultancy and pretend that that gave it the authority of fact when it does not have that authority.

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for LDA Projects (1) (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for LDA Projects (1) (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

You just have to look at John Biggs' background to know he did not come into public life to cover up any mistakes I am responsible for! I see no evidence that John would be interested or involved in covering up the misallocation of public funds. I thought it was important to have an Assembly Member as Vice Chair of the LDA to strengthen that link so that someone at the highest level was aware of the needs and concerns of the Assembly.

It is difficult. I do not ever recall being in a row with some authority figure where I was saying something awful is going on there but I do not know what it is. I always knew where to go; where the bodies might be buried.

The fact that Deloitte, in their fairly light oversight of this, did not come to you and say, 'We think there is a problem, give us another £100,000 and we will find it for you' - because they are very keen to do that if they have the chance - suggests there is not a great smoking gun here.

Let us dig into all of it, see what we can find and reassure everybody. John is absolutely right: these are things we inherited and projects will be managed differently in the ones we started and initiated. We learn as we go along as everybody else does. This is not somewhere where £500,000 has gone missing and the treasurer of the organisation is now living in the Bahamas or something.