Council Tax precept

MQT on 2008-11-12
Session date: 
November 12, 2008
Question By: 
Roger Evans
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Do you remain confident of achieving a £0 and 0% precept increase for 2009-10 despite the current financial crises and do you find it a bit rich for opposition members to criticise when many of them voted in favour for the each of the previous budgets that created the 152% precept increase since 2000-01?


Answer for Council Tax precept

Answer for Council Tax precept

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Yes, I think you are absolutely right and I do think it is a bit odd that there is some criticism for this measure. In fact I think, as I said earlier on, it is more or less complete babble from the opposing parties about this because they cannot work out whether they think the cuts are too deep or not deep enough. It is simply unintelligible what they are trying to say. I think we need to get the message across loud and clear to London. Everybody in all sides of this horseshoe should get the message across loud and clear to London that for the first time in eight years the mayoralty of London is not asking for more money. We are freezing our share of the Council Tax which is the right thing to do for London and I see Len Duvall smiling, which at last he sees the wisdom. It is the right thing to do for London at a time when many people are feeling the pinch.

Roger Evans (AM): Mr Mayor, it does seem to me that there are --

Len Duvall (AM): The reason I am smiling, Chair, is because we did this --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): There is no such thing a point of personal explanation.

Len Duvall (AM): -- we had a freeze for a number of years.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Well, Comrade Len shows the way forward in freezing the precept. You are absolutely right. You are right to have done it then and I am glad you now belatedly add your support to what we are doing here.

Richard Tracey (AM): The Boris Revolution!

Roger Evans (AM): I was going to say before that supportive comment from the leader of the Labour Group that there are obviously a large number of savings to be made in this organisation which would have very little impact on the delivery of services, unlike the shrouds that are always being waved by people across the room. We were told by Transport for London last week they had managed to save money on the marketing budget for low fares to people on Income Support because that budget, unbelievably, was advertising the service to the whole of the country rather than just to London. Surely there is a scope for a lot of these cases where services are being offered just to Londoners not to advertise them in the rest of the country and to make some fairly easy savings there.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Well, Roger, I hear that point. I will think about that. My own view actually is that if we are offering a service for people on Income Support then we should encourage people to be aware of it. The name of the game now is to help people to get to work and to help people to find work. That can very often be people who do not necessarily live in London. London has traditionally benefited hugely from influxes of people from outside the country coming to find work here and I think maybe it is not quite as illogical as all that, but I will think about what you say.

Roger Evans (AM): I mean, let us consider some other elements of the marketing budget. For instance, the London Freewheel. When you decide to save £250,000 on the marketing for London Freewheel, did you believe in your wildest dreams that there would be 15,000 more people attending and it would be the most successful such event that has yet been held?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Ah, now you are talking. No, I think it is a sign of the genuine commitment of this Mayoralty to cycling and I think we should all be grateful that it is possible to cut marketing budgets, to cut waste and extravagance and yet deliver more exciting and more attractive events. It was what we did after all in Beijing as well where I think we cut the budget by about 30% and it was the only show in town.

Roger Evans (AM): When you saved £45,000 from the marketing budget for the Rise Festival and took out a lot of the overtly political comment there did you believe that you would see 10,000 more people attending and it would be the most successful such event that we have held?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Well, I am glad you said that, Roger. I was very pleased that it was the most popular Rise Festival ever and next year we are going to look at ways of not getting everybody quite so agitated as we did this year.