Mayor's report

Meeting: 
MQT on 2011-12-14
Session date: 
December 14, 2011
Reference: 
2011/4145
Question By: 
Jennette Arnold OBE
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): The Assembly has asked for updates on five matters. The funding negotiations between the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the Government was certainly one of them and I can tell you that negotiations are going on though, as is quite common in this particular period, they are not yet complete. On one matter I know that Members will be wanting to have reassurance: I am absolutely clear that we will be able to keep police numbers high and around 1,000 more than there were in 2008. I know that will be a reassurance.

On the Get Set programme, I can tell you that there are still some schools that are not yet signed up for the Get Set programme. This is an opportunity for schools in London to get their hands on a grand total of 125,000 free tickets to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is a fantastic programme. The deadline for that programme is 16 December, coming right up on Friday, so I hope very much that all schools who have not yet signed up will do. Some boroughs have done brilliantly and some have done less brilliantly, but there are still some gaps in the programme and we are hoping to see them filled.

You have asked for a briefing on the European Summit and Britain and London's relations with the European Union (EU) following the summit in Brussels last Wednesday and Thursday. In my view, the outcome of that summit leaves Britain's economic relations with the EU and indeed London's relations substantially - in fact completely - unchanged. What I would say is that it is more important than ever that our friends and partners resolve the problems surrounding the euro and remove uncertainty that I think is starting to bedevil the whole international economic scene, and has been actually for some time.

You have asked for an update on fares and the £136 million that we were able to secure in the Autumn Statement. That is being used to cut the fare increase in January, which means that average fares will go up by 5.6% and for Oyster pay as you go, for instance, on the bus, a single fare is only going up by 5p or 3.8%, under the rate of inflation. The critical point to make there, as everybody will understand, is that that is extra cash which we have from the Treasury as part of the general package to alleviate fare increases across the whole of the national rail network. The critical point about that £136 million is it allows us to continue with investing every penny piece of our planned infrastructure funds and to go ahead with delivering the transport upgrades that I know Londoners want and need.

The final thing is the bendy bus, which has been finally dispatched to its happy hunting grounds. I think some of them have gone to Malta, as far as I understand. I wish the Maltese every joy of them. I would simply say to all those bendy bus recidivists who would yearn to bring it back - I know that this is the policy; I have read somewhere that this is the policy of some Members around this horseshoe - that there is a very clear choice. You can bring back the bendy bus, which is after all a machine made in Germany not suitable for the streets of London, or you can go with a wonderful new, cleaner, greener, Routemaster-style bus with a hop-on/hop-off feature that was wrongly taken away and that will deliver British jobs and British growth. I know which one I would choose.

Answer

Answer for Mayor's report

Answer for Mayor's report

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Tony Arbour (AM): You have mentioned the negotiations with the EU in your commentary this morning. When you next see the Prime Minister, would you please congratulate him on behalf of my constituents and indeed all of London on the preservation of a very large number of jobs in the City of London, which we all know is the engine room of the capital? They are extremely grateful to the Prime Minister for his steadfastness in standing up for English, British and London interests and --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): And Scottish.

Tony Arbour (AM): North British, I think Scotland is really, is it not? Will you also say that Londoners do appreciate his steadfastness, unlike that of the Liberal Democrats who from day to day change their views on the matter? It is clear that at the end of the day they are interested in their own political ends rather than the welfare of Londoners and the population of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Tony, thank you. I am sure Downing Street will register what you have said with their usual attention. If not, I will of course convey that to the Prime Minister. I think I am going to see him later on today.

As it happens, the reality is that this matter has been slightly overdone. What really happened was that there was a summit that was really designed to achieve a long-term and convincing solution to the problems of the euro and it did not really do that. That is the fundamental problem that continues to beset us all. Until we really sort that out, it will be difficult to crow and to proclaim triumph. The most important thing is that the eurozone countries come up with an answer to the problems that the markets are posing them. It is not clear to me that they have it yet.