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Phil Taylor: Boris is prioritising crime, efficiency and quality of life in London

Phil Taylor, a Conservative Councillor for Northfield Ward in Ealing, puts Boris' first 100 days in context and notes the taking up of a similar priority formula to Ealing Council's.  Phil blogs here.

Boris Johnson was elected as London Mayor on May 1st and got to work on May 2nd.  No doubt, it being silly season, Boris's first 100 days will be a big story on August 10th.  Boris will have completed his first hundred days by the end of Saturday night and the Sundays will be be full of 100 days stories.  Ridiculous.  Just the other day I had a lady from that noted political journal Time Out wanting to know my opinions on the subject of Boris Johnson's first 100 days.

They will talk about how he has taken two holidays already.  Sound man.  They will mention the old mayor hanging around a lot.  They will replay the James McGrath scandal where a backroom boy managed to get stitched up by a seasoned left/race activist.  They will also mention the Ray Lewis saga where the whole Tory party showed some naivety in its urge to include.  It took nine weeks for Ray Lewis to be found out. It took eight years to out an even bigger whopper teller under Livingstone so hopefully we have some progress.

It took ten weeks to turn the London logo at the top of the Mayor’s website from red to blue.  So much for the trivia.  What about the substance?

Firstly, Johnson got elected by the doughnut.  There won't be a sudden rush of cash to the suburbs but the old bias towards the centre and east have gone and over time a six zone Mayor will make his presence felt.  Don't expect this to be apparent after a 100 days or even after the first couple of years.  It will show in time though.

Secondly, we will see focus.  Tuesday's announcement by the London Mayor of his budget priorities will sound uncannily familiar to Ealing residents.  The Mayor says:

"Tackling crime, delivering value for money and improving the quality of life in London are my administration's top priorities."

Quite right.  In Ealing, shortly after the May 2006 local elections, council leader Jason Stacey came up with a remarkably similar formulation.  To this day the following text is repeated at the bottom of every press release from the council:

"Ealing Council's priorities are cleaner streets, safer communities and value for money services."

This formulation has served Ealing well for the last two years.  It is simple and voters understand it.  It does not mean that nothing else can happen.  In the same period Ealing's adult services for instance have continued to improve.  In Ealing, as we get on with regenerating our town centres, our message will necessarily get more complex.  The original message remains though a very good place to start so well done to the Mayor for stealing a good idea.

In his announcement Boris Johnson has responded to the credit crunch by promising to to shave 15% off the GLA budget next year and to keep rises the next two years to 1.25%.  The police and fire brigade are allowed a 1.75% next year and then they too will be kept with the 1.25% discipline that the GLA is accepting for itself.  This is good news for Londoners.  After eight years of unconstrained rises these services have a predictable political environment for the next three years and can devote themselves to the honest business of doing more for less.



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