Assembly welcomes budget freeze—but fears it may not be enough
PUBLISHED: 19:56 28 January 2009 | UPDATED: 14:00 05 October 2010
THE London Assembly today welcomed the proposed freeze on any increase in City Hall’s Council Tax levy on the capital’s 33 local authorities. But members debating Mayor Boris Johnson’s draft budget said it failed to develop “a coherent spending strategy” which would protect services such as police
THE London Assembly today welcomed the proposed freeze on any increase in City Hall’s Council Tax levy on the capital’s 33 local authorities.
But members debating Mayor Boris Johnson’s draft budget for 2009-10 said it failed to develop “a coherent spending strategy” to protect services such as police.
It was “strong on short-term fixes” but did not do enough to prepare London for the long-term harsh economic times ahead.
East London’s Assembly member John Biggs argued: “Cobbling together a one-year standstill’ budget is not the same as taking the long-term decisions that protect front line’ services.”
But the Mayor’s Office insisted policing London’s hard-pressed public transport was being expanded—all paid for out of City Hall savings.
Mayor Johnson urged local authorities to follow his example and freeze their part of the council tax bill. Hackney in East London was one of five authorities which was already doing this.
The Mayor said: “It is vital we ease the burden on families struggling financially, many with unemployment hanging over them.”
He plans £100 million savings this year alone, rising to £1,000m over the next three years.
The savings are being spent on more police to tackle yobs and youth violence, already under way with 500 officers taken on at bus interchanges such as Mile End, Dalston-Kingsland and Canning Town in East London and further out at Barking and Romford town centres.
Teams of travelling cops have also been recruited for suburban railway lines such as the Stratford services through Forest Gate, Manor Park, Ilford and out to Chadwell Heath and Romford.
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