Precept (Supplementary) [2]

Session date: 
March 14, 2012
Question By: 
Valerie Shawcross
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

The precept, Ken Livingstone's council tax was actually £309 when he lost office in 2008. For that, we received 5,000 new police officers, the creation of a Safer Neighbourhood team, a huge improvement in the bus service, the Oyster Card, the Olympic bid, the Crossrail Overground, the Tube upgrade going, great public spaces but now London is in a cost of living crisis and I put it to you, Mr Mayor, you are actually adding to the pain. Your tax and fares strategy is that you are offering a small cut of £3.10 in a total year on the council tax but the Zone 1 to 6 travel card now at £2,100 is seven times what the council precept was for the GLA when Ken Livingstone lost office. Zone 1 to 4 is £360 more now than four years ago when you took office. Can I put it to you, Mr Mayor, your fare increases in four years have vastly outstripped the total precept of your predecessor? What are you going to do to relieve the pressure on Londoners?

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Precept (Supplementary) [2]

Answer for Precept (Supplementary) [2]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Jennette Arnold (Chair): Excuse me, Mr Mayor, before you answer a point of order has been raised.

Gareth Bacon (AM): The question I asked was about precept and the increases to the precept. I fail to see any link directly to fares on TfL. I can see how Miss Shawcross is trying to put that but it is not actually linked.

Jennette Arnold (Chair): No. It is my ruling it is linked. She has made a link. Can I have an answer, Mr Mayor?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes, you can. The answer is that yes, of course Londoners have been going through tough times but the pain was caused by the gross fiscal irresponsibility of the last Labour Government that wrapped up unsustainable debts and the policies of your administration, that spent money when you did not have it, which is exactly what you are proposing to do again. Actually, if you take council tax and transport costs together, we come in under, we come in cheaper, and we come in more cost-effective for Londoners than the previous administration. That is because we have taken out prodigious sums in the kind of irresponsible waste you specialised in.

To get to your final question, the way we are going to help Londoners and help them through these tough times, of course is to continue with investing in a 24-hour Freedom Pass, in keeping fares as low as we conceivably can, keeping all the concessions and benefits we have given Londoners in search of work, disabled war veterans, we will keep all those concessions, but what we will also do, which you cannot do because your policies preclude it, your nihilistic and hopeless manifesto precludes doing this, we will make the investment in improving London's transport infrastructure, in modernising and automating our systems that will actually allow us to keep costs low and keep fares down in a way that is honest and sustainable.

Valerie Shawcross (AM): Mr Mayor, can I suggest to you that you would be well advised to adopt Labour's strategy on this. We would freeze the council tax, we would cut the fares and we can do that without attacking the freedom pass, without attacking or cutting any new projects.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Why should we believe you? You said that last time and you put them up by record amounts.

Valerie Shawcross (AM): Mr Mayor, I do not know why you always talk over the top of me and other women on this Assembly but I just would like to put it to you; you mentioned earlier on, the Moody credit rating report, which is only nine pages long, so I hope you have read it, as I have, and I happen to have a copy here on my fantastic iPad, no adverts, and it does support actually our approach to the fares and the financial strategy for London. If I can just quote to you; but do you recognise this, Mr Mayor? It does say TfL's income from fares compared to the previous fiscal year was 5.9% ahead of budgeted revenues. It also says operating expenditure for the fiscal year 2010/11 was 8.4% below the previous year expenditure and 8% below budgets.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Can I just explain?

Valerie Shawcross (AM): I put it to you, Mr Mayor, TfL is running surpluses at the moment because of population and Ridership increases and you are under-spending on operational budgets and capital budgets. There is scope to ease the pain in London. Why do you not do it?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Because you, I am afraid, are being completely dishonest. Your manifesto is utterly fraudulent. We still have to find, even to keep our current investment programme, £4.7 billion worth of savings, which you would be completely incapable of doing because your ability to do that would be restricted by your relationship with the Trade Union bosses. Secondly, every penny we have is already allocated to investment projects, none of which --

Valerie Shawcross (AM): Not according to this.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Absolutely. None of which you are willing to announce that you would forego. What you have to tell Londoners is where the money is coming from. What are you going to scrap? Is it bus routes? Is it the Freedom Pass? Is it the upgrades of the Tube, and at least the Greens and the Liberals have the intellectual honesty to say this, or would you raise the council tax massively or would you put in a new projection charge? You have to come up with the answer.

Jennette Arnold (Chair): Mr Mayor, the question is to you. If you have nothing more to say to the question, can we move on.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I have answered the question.

Valerie Shawcross (AM): Can I just make one point of correction there. He did make some comments about us being in the pay of the union, whatever. The RMT is not affiliated to the Labour Party. We do not take donations from it and we do not accept instructions from --

Jennette Arnold (Chair): Thank you for that correction.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Sorry; the single biggest donor to the Labour Party and to her campaign are the Unions and Bob Crow said, Ken's a good mucker and if he wants some money, just ring us up.