John Biggs AM is the Labour London Assembly Member for City & East London; he is the Labour London Assembly Group budget spokesperson
Yesterday the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, published his draft budget for the next financial year (2013/14).
With great fanfare he has announced a 1.2% cut in his share of the council tax (the Mayor’s Precept). This amounts to the vast sum of £3.72 a year, or just 7 pence a week for a Band D household. On the same day Boris raised transport fares in London above inflation for the fifth year running.
An annual Zone 1-4 Travelcard will now cost Londoners £72.00 more than last year.
He is essentially picking pounds from your pocket, giving you a few pence back and expecting you to be grateful. This is an insult to hard-working Londoners who are already struggling with a triple whammy of rising food, fuel and rent costs.
Rather than being a cheerleader for government cuts, the Mayor needs to stand up for Londoners and be counted.
Since May 2010 the Met has lost 2,208 police officers and 30 fire stations have been identified for possible closure. The Mayor and his colleagues in government are cutting too far, too fast. They are hitting the frontline police and fire services we all depend on to keep us safe.
Wages for the majority of workers are barely rising. It is scandalous Boris has not used his power to curb fare rises, but at the same time is claiming credit for saving households 7 pence a week. If he’s not there to stand up for Londoners in tough times, then what exactly is he there for? In the past two years TfL collected £251 million more than they were expecting in fares.
As chair of Transport for London, Boris sets the fare levels for the capital. It is ludicrous for the Mayor to claim he can’t help Londoners.
Behind the media spin from the Mayor, people in London are suffering increased job insecurity, catastrophic levels of youth unemployment and massive fears about the future. This budget is not serious and comes from a Mayor who cares more about his public image than actually helping Londoners.