Richard Barnes, Assembly Member for Ealing & Hillingdon and Leader of the Conservative Group, says the Conservative budget for the GLA is the only one that offers value-for-money.
Local authorities are currently setting their budgets for 2008/09. That includes the Greater London Authority. The Conservative Group on the London Assembly has proposed “a budget for law and order”. This includes an extra 500 warranted police officers on the beat to combat crime and gang warfare. We would manage this by diverting money from bureaucracy to front line services. There would be no increase in the GLA part of Londoners' council tax bills.
Our proposals are in stark contrast to those being put forward by Ken Livingstone. His is the same tired, miserable, old-fashioned budget from the same tired, miserable, old-fashioned Mayor. He is locked into the politics of yesterday and is not proposing anything new for Londoners. His proposals will bring his tax increases over the last eight years to a massive 153% - yet many of us may well ask what we have to show for this.
Our no-increase budget recognises the concerns Londoners have for rising violent crime. In addition to the extra 500 warranted police officers we are also proposing 650 extra transport police, more safer neighbourhood teams and increased use of CCTV. In essence, we want less spin and more action in the fight against crime in London – and we demonstrate that this can be achieved without an automatic increase in the GLA tax.
I believe our budget makes a stand for common sense and value for money. Londoners will not find that on offer from any other Party at City Hall.
As part of ConservativeHome's Parliamentary/ Assembly coverage a Conservative member of the Greater London Assembly will be filing weekly reports. Richard Barnes AM writes the first report on Olympics cost over-runs.
"At the London Assembly Plenary this week, we had the opportunity to question the key players delivering the 2012 Olympics.
The past week has not been good for the Games, as previously stated budgets have started to spiral upwards. I felt sorry for David Higgins and John Armitt of the Olympic Delivery Authority, who had to defend the doubling in cost of both the aquatics centre and the main stadium. These two gentlemen are experts in their field and are doing their best under tough conditions.
As many of you will know the original cost submitted to the IOC when we bid to host the 2012 Olympics was £2.4 billion. That cost has now increased to a staggering £9billion. The blame for this major jump must be laid at the feet of the government. They failed to take into account basic factors such as inflation of construction costs and VAT. Those tasked with delivering the two week event have admitted that the bid book wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. And our erstwhile Labour Mayor has failed to guarantee any protection for London taxpayers in regard to overspends. I hope the Olympics is a success, and I hope it comes in on budget. My fear is that Londoners and the rest of the UK taxpayer has been sold a bum deal which we and the next generation will be paying for way into the future."
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