London Assembly '£7m Waste of Money'

Report argues Mayor should be accountable to local authority leaders

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“The London Assembly does not provide effective scrutiny of the London Mayor and should be scrapped” according to a research paper from New London Government Network.

The report, written by James Hulme, argues that whilst members of the London Assembly are, by and large, hard-working and committed. "The crux of the problem is that, put simply, members simply don’t have enough to do to justify full time engagement and as a result they may be spending time compiling superfluous investigations and reports that generally have little impact on the work of the London Mayor or help to inform its wider politics.

"Through day-today interaction with their local communities, Borough Leaders would be best placed to offer first-hand guidance on the views and aspirations of ordinary Londoners”.

It costs almost £7m to employ the 25 full-time elected politicians whose majority of time is spent investigating and compiling reports ‘that have little impact’. NLGN argues that Mayor Boris Johnson, should instead be scrutinised by a London Leaders’ Council (LLC), consisting of the 32 elected council leaders in Greater London.

According to the report, “Allowing council leaders a scrutiny role would allow them to make the Mayor more accountable to ordinary Londoners. The LLC would have the power to approve or amend the Mayor’s budget. Crucially, the budget could only be passed by a clear majority of council leaders in both inner and outer London, in order to ensure that the Mayor took into account the needs of all parts of the Capital. The LLC would also have scrutiny over the London Development Agency, Metropolitan Police and Transport for London.”

Assembly Members are elected for four year full-time posts and receive an annual salary of £50,581. The 2008 Mayoral budget has allocated £8.7million to run the London Assembly, with £7.1million ear-marked for the running of services to Assembly Members. The report says that removing the Assembly would save £6.6million, enough to put an extra 165 police officers on London’s streets or to give its 6,000 homeless people a £250 grant to use as a rental deposit on a property.

To replace the policy making aspect of Assembly Members’, the report argues that the House of Commons should set up a London Regional Select Committee of London MPs to investigate the work and policies of the London Mayor. London is currently the only area in England without a Regional Select Committee.

May 13, 2008