John Biggs AM: History will judge that this is a budget with two sides to it. The first is that you have failed to challenge the bloated budgets and opacity of TfL. Caroline Pidgeon is quite right. TfL can afford to reverse those decisions about outer London travellers quite easily and that will be taken up by my colleagues.
The second part of it, though, is about the precept and council tax. I worry about your successor, whomever that is, whether it is a Conservative, Labour, Green or whatever. They are going to be facing £200 million-a-year cuts in their budgets year-on-year for policing, just as one example. Can we really justify your flag-waving totemic cut on the council tax?
I will give you a couple of quotes. I asked a number of councils - Lincolnshire County Council, Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Buckinghamshire County Council, Dorset County Council, Guildford Borough Council, Surrey County Council, Worcestershire County Council - and what do they all have in common? They are all flag-waving Conservative councils and they are all increasing their council taxes this year. I am not suggesting we increase the council tax ‑‑
Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): That is what you say.
John Biggs AM: ‑‑ but can you really justify the cut? I will just give you a couple of quotes. Lincolnshire say they are increasing council tax to maintain services; they are “only steering clear of a referendum to avoid burdening taxpayers with the cost of a poll”, so they would like to put it up by more than 2%. Buckinghamshire say:
“We do not want to increase council tax. However, over the next three years our Government grant will be cut.”
Dorset say there was a reduction in grants to the local authority, “a large proportion of which was due to school budget changes”, forcing them to put their council tax up. At Guildford Borough Council, because of the “black hole created by the lack of Government funding”, they are putting their council tax up.
You are making a rather small change, but nevertheless it will create a cumulative problem for your successor. How do you really justify that?