Mayor’s budget supports London’s growth while cutting council tax bills

borisThe Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s annual budget was today approved by the London Assembly, fulfilling his manifesto commitment to reduce the Mayoral share of Londoners’ council tax bills by ten per cent during his second term in office. Today’s decision means a typical Band D council taxpayer has saved around £500 over his eight years as Mayor.

The 2016-2017 budget will see the Mayor’s share of council tax fall by 6.4 per cent  – a reduction of £19 to £276 for Band D taxpayers. The budget also includes plans to protect police officer numbers and key transport improvements while supporting the construction of a record number of new homes and creating thousands of new jobs.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “This budget delivers the growth and investment London needs to meet its surging population, supporting the delivery of new homes, vital transport infrastructure and protecting frontline policing. At the same time, we are relentlessly bearing down on unnecessary costs in order to once again put more money back in the pockets of Londoners by trimming council tax, leading to a ten per cent cut over my second term of office.”

The Mayor’s 2016/2017 budget covers the entire Greater London Authority Group – including Transport for London, the London Legacy Development Corporation, the Metropolitan Police service and the London Fire Brigade. It includes:

  • The continued delivery of around £418m of funding that is being used to support economic regeneration in the capital.
  • The protection of police officer numbers at around 32,000 including a reinvigoration of neighbourhood policing by getting 2,600 extra officers into local neighbourhoods. It also includes investment in the latest digital technologies such as body worn cameras.
  • Investment in upgrading the Tube network including £250m on making more stations step free, the delivery of a northern Line extension to Nine Elms and Battersea and continued support for the delivery of Crossrail, which will increase London’s rail capacity by ten per cent.
  • A £4bn investment on London’s roads. £913m is due to be spent on cycling improvements, including Cycle Superhighways, Quietways and mini-Hollands, £200m has been earmarked for bus priority schemes and 800 New Routemaster buses will be delivered by 2016.
  • Continuing the increase in the supply of affordable homes and identifying better ways of doing so with a target of delivering 100,000 affordable homes over the Mayor’s eight years in office.
  • Ensuring the London Fire Brigade can continue to meet their response time targets.
  • A commitment to continue funding from the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime for Survivors UK work with the victims of male rape.
  • The permanent re-opening of the former Olympic Stadium in the summer of 2016 and support for the hosting of major sports events across all of the 2102 legacy venues including the, European Aquatics Championships. Plus the continued development of Olympicopolis, a world class new cultural, scientific and educational centre for London at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
  • Support for the new Mayoral Development Corporation for Old Oak and Park Royal, a once in a lifetime regeneration opportunity for that part of west London which will deliver thousands of new jobs and homes.
  • A continued focus on the creation of apprenticeships for young Londoners, particularly in the construction sector where demand is increasing.
  • The Mayor of London’s 2016-17 Council Tax requirement is £774m – this being the total sum forecast to be collected from Londoners to fund GLA services. This will see the total GLA precept reduced from £295 to £276 a year (Band D household) for residents of the 32 boroughs – a reduction of £19 or 6.4%. The Band D precept for taxpayers within the Corporation of London area – which has its own police force – is provisionally set at £73.89.
  • The Mayor’s council tax precept comprises £567m to support the Metropolitan Police service, £138m for the London Fire Brigade and £69m for other services such as transport, the Olympic precept and the GLA itself.
  • The Mayor’s budget consists of allocations for – the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (Metropolitan Police), Transport for London, the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (London Fire Brigade), the London Legacy Development Company (Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park), the new Old Oak Common and Park Royal Development Corporation, the core Greater London Authority and the London Assembly.
  • The total budget for the GLA Group for 2016-17 is £16.3 billion. This comprises a revenue budget of £11.5 billion and a draft capital spending plan of £4.8 billion.

Labour council leader’s £14,000 boost in allowances

cowanCllr Stephen Cowan, the Labour leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, is celebrating after a £14,000 boost in his Council Taxpayer funded allowances.

He is already paid £8,940 as a basic allowance plus another £32,186.70 “Special Responsibility Allowance” for being council leader. So that’s £41,126.70p. Not bad for a job that he treats very much as part time.

Now he’s taken another £14,000 for being a board member of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation. It meets about ten times a year – and take about an hour and half each. So around a £1,000 an hour. A nice little earner that brings the total to £55,126.70p. Kerr-ching!

The Mayor of London’s staff and London Assembly members who serve on the board are not claiming any extra money. But Cllr Cowan has decided he’s worth it. The Council had strongly opposed the setting up of the Board on the grounds it was “anti localism”. It’s creation would mean “handing decision making over to unelected representatives”. Only having one council representative would be a complete waste of time. I wonder what prompted Cllr Cowan to overcome his objections to participating rather than maintaining a principled boycott….

Of course the regeneration scheme is important. It will provide 24,000 new homes and 55,000 new jobs alongside the HS2 and Crossrail Station. The trouble is the plan is for the new homes to be very ugly – part of some ego trip for “starchitect” Sir Terry Farrell.

If Cllr Cowan was to ensure attractive traditional housing with street patterns instead of soulless tower blocks then I wouldn’t mind him pocketing the extra cash. But the notion that he will achieve anything in this regard – or even bother to try – is risible. Far more likely to make a difference would be the election of Zac Goldsmith as the Mayor of London in May.

As an opposition councillor Cllr Cowan regularly denounced dealing with property developers and was furious the Conservative Council sent representatives to the MIPIM conference in Cannes. Yet when the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation decided to take part in the MIPIM gathering in Cannes next March there was not a squeak of protest from him.

Last year when MIPIM held an event at Olympia, Cllr Cowan was schmoozing with property developers inside when the Labour MP Andrew Slaughter was outside denouncing the gathering.

Will Cllr Cowan turn up at Cannes? He could become a regular. The councillor for Hammersmith Broadway and the French Riviera

 

 

 

Zac Goldsmith’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference in full

zacgoldtwo“I want to begin by saying something to the members of our party, who have put their trust in me for next year’s crucial Mayoral election.

And to all my friends in local government, who have given me so much support.

Thank you.

You may remember that the constituency of Twickenham, was thought to be impregnable

Invincible Cable they called him: a seat the Tories could not possibly win.

Well…no-one told Tania Mathias that!

Tania, thank you for giving me such an inspiring example to follow.

I have always believed that the most important politics is local politics.

And our Party’s record in local Government is a proud one.

– We keep taxes down

– we keep neighbourhoods green…

– we keep people safe.

And that’s why we need a Conservative in the biggest local Government job of all.

Labour’s search for a Mayoral candidate was vicious and divisive.

By contrast, our own search was civilised and constructive.

And I look forward to working with Andrew Boff, Syed Kamall and Stephen Greenhalgh, all of them distinguished servants of our Capital city.

When my constituents gave me the thumbs up to put myself forward as a candidates, I knew the scale of the task.

I will fight with everything I have to win this campaign.

Boris Johnson defied political gravity by beating Ken Livingstone, twice.

And he also managed to defy economic gravity, by giving London the confidence, to beat the recession, to deliver record investment, and a record number of jobs.

And London’s success has been good news for all of us.

When the capital does well – the whole country does well.

But London’s population will increase by 1.5m in the next fifteen years.

There will be immense pressure, on our housing, our living environment, our schools, and of course our transport system.

The Chancellor recently dropped a hint about Crossrail 2 going ahead.

He’s not a man who says things by mistake, so – being an optimist – I’m determined to convert that into a green light!

It’s clearly essential.

But it’s only part of the story.

We are going to need record investment in our transport network, just to keep London moving.

We need finance, and we need reform.

George Osborne has started a revolution, by handing great powers back from the Centre.

And we will see better decision making, more accountability and stronger governance.

And London needs that. Which is why yesterday’s announcement by the Chancellor was so welcome.

New York retains half the taxes it raises.

London holds on to just seven per cent.

It’s time for London to keep more of its own revenue.

These things: greater devolution, lower taxes, better infrastructure: can only be delivered if there is mutual trust and respect between local and national government.

And that will only happen, if we have a Conservative Mayor, working with a Conservative Government.

Some of you will have noticed that I have an interest in the environment.

Well we are blessed to have a Capital whose Parks, Commons and gardens mark it out among the world’s most beautiful cities.

But the sheer pace of change means that we must do more than merely protect our existing environment.

We must enhance it.

We need to guarantee, that every child and every family has access to a somewhere to play…to grow…to cherish.

London is the Greatest city on Earth.

I want it to be the greenest.

We are going to have to get to grips with one of the great menaces of urban life.

Air pollution

We can save thousands of lives every year, in part thanks to the creativity of the market.

You can already drive from this hall to London’s City Hall for £5 in an all-electric British-made Nissan Leaf!

We need to accelerate that transition.

But by far the biggest challenge London faces is housing.

I remember in 2008 when I was selected to contest Richmond Park and N Kingston candidates were asked: who will fight off the developers?

Just a few months ago, the very same people asked candidates in the General Election hustings, how the hell are our kids going to get homes to live in?

We have seen a giant shift.

Rents in the capital are already double the national average.

The cost of a home for first time buyers is also double the national average.

And if the very people who make it what it is can no longer afford to live here; if young people can’t start a family because they can’t afford to move; then opportunities for families and businesses will simply dry up.

The answer is not easy.

But it is simple.

We need to build.

Contrary to what some believe, there is no shortage of land.

And specifically, there is no shortage of brownfield land.

We can build the homes London needs, without destroying the green spaces we love.

The Mayor’s new Land Commission, will identify all publicly owned brownfield land in our Capital.

We already know that put together, Transport for London land alone, would be bigger than the borough of Camden.

And there’s no shortage of finance.

Everyone wants to invest in London.

Our capital city is seen as a safe bet for investors.

But where homes are bought purely as investments, and are left empty, that causes huge resentment.

So we can do one of two things.

We can close the doors to outside investors, which is what the Labour Party wants to do.

Or we can capture that finance and use it to build the homes we need on publicly owned land.

As Mayor, I will set up a fund designed specifically to attract big institutional investors.

And I will use it to build a new generation of homes.

Affordable homes for young people, who neither qualify for housing lists nor are able to buy, but who have to spend most of their income on rent.

This is a cause worth fighting for.

But there is one important caveat.

Development will fail and deserve to fail, if we disrespect and trample on existing communities.

Many Londoners are instinctively suspicious of new development.

And I don’t blame them.

Too often they have no say, no control, over what is built in their backyard.

When a new development is proposed for their community, it is often ugly, out-of-proportion, out-of-keeping – and it is simply dumped on them, with no thought as to the effect it will have on their area.

There’s no case for ignoring local opinion.

Yes we need to build more, but we also need to build well.

If we get it right, if we work with communities and give them a real say, then the opportunities are endless.

Consider the 3,500 1950s and 60s estates, many of them poorly designed, many of them coming to the end of their lives.

With the consent of the local community – and with guarantees that they won’t be fragmented

– We have a chance to rebuild them, and provide more homes, better communities, and more beautiful streetscapes.

We know that high density doesn’t have to mean high rise, alienating blocks, magnets for social problems.

We can have attractive street based developments that people actually want to live in.

Which is why if I am elected Mayor, I will ensure that local communities can vote, to require the Mayor to call in significant developments.

I believe passionately in giving communities a voice, and making that voice decisive..

I want to make direct democracy, a London Reality.

And this will be a first step.

This is the country that gave democracy to the world.

And It’s time to renew that democracy, to bring it closer to the people, to make those with power more accountable, to give every community more control over decisions that affect their lives..

Next May will decide London’s future.

Do we want a capital city, run by a party that supports higher taxes and bigger government?

A party that has already committed itself to supporting each and every strike, no matter the motive or cause?

A party in the grip of unbending ideologues…?

A party that can only divide?

Ours is a better, more hopeful vision.

That is why I have put myself forward for this election.

We can build on Boris’s legacy…

… and fight for a safer…

… greener…

…. happier

…more prosperous, united city.

A city that works for all Londoners.

I know it will be the mother and father of all political battles.

But with your help, and your hard work…

We will win for London.”

“We support Uber” H&F Conservative councillors tell Boris

Uber_logo_thumb800Dear Boris

In Hammersmith & Fulham we are enormously proud of your achievements as Mayor of London.  You have made significant changes to benefit our residents in reducing crime, reducing your share of council tax, modernising the District Line, scrapping the western extension of the Congestion Charge, bringing ‘Boris Bikes’ west and planting new street trees.  We could go on!

However, similar to the seven Conservative Councillors from Westminster who wrote to you earlier in the week, we are very concerned at Transport for London’s proposals around new regulation that will particularly affect Uber.  A significant number of our residents use Uber as a convenient, competitively priced and forward looking service that is setting the pace in the taxi market.  To bring in rules that prevent residents from seeing where nearby taxis are located and have to wait longer than sometimes is necessary to get their cab (especially late at night) would achieve nothing other than inconvenience for thousands of Londoners and visitors who value such a service.

We believe it is possible for the black cab trade and firms like Uber to co-exist in a competitive market place and respectfully suggest the answer may lie more with deregulation of black cabs than new regulation on others.

Please review these proposals and let competition and the free market settle this matter, not state interference.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Greg Smith

Cllr Mike Adam

Cllr Nick Botterill

Cllr Andrew Brown

Cllr Joe Carlebach

Cllr Charlie Dewhirst

Cllr Belinda Donovan

Cllr Caroline ffiske

Cllr Marcus Ginn

Cllr Steve Hamilton

Cllr Lucy Ivimy

Cllr Alex Karmel

Cllr Robert Largan

Cllr Jane Law

Cllr Viya Nsumbu

Cllr Harry Phibbs

All Councillors in the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham Town Hall, King Street, London W6 9JU