At the last Question Time for the Mayor of London there was quite a bit of criticism of Boris Johnson from Conservative London Assembly members. Brian Coleman thought they we had to plan for some big spending cuts, that would cut services, because of inevitable slashes in Government grants whoever won the General Election. Andrew Boff didn't think money from the London Development Agency should go on sponsoring a City Academy. One of our other Assembly members Roger Evans thinks "perhaps it went to far time" in the latest session. I think Tony Arbour's criticisms are rather good (he's asked at previous meetings why borough councils can't choose the location for bus stops and why so many Diversity Officers are still employed at City Hall) and he gets the tone right.
It so happened I disagreed with some of comments made by Brian and Andrew. I suspect there could be massive cuts in GLA spending without any deterioration of GLA services. For instance there is the chronic overmanning at Transport for London – where perhaps twice as many people are employed as needed for the current level of service. While Brian was right to say huge savings would be needed he sounded too gloomy about the necessary consequences. So far as a City Academy is concerned, if the LDA is to go on spending money on anything it's probably a good idea.
On the other hand I would have liked to see Boris challenged over his misguided support for the Thames Water Super Sewer project.
But we will all have our own views on the particular issues. The point is that these sessions should be about rigour and accountability not trivial partisan point scoring. The Conservatives came across as far more serious than the other parties in this regard. As Roger Evans says if the Conservatives just asked toadying questions it wouldn't really attract voters to our cause (not that terribly many of them watch the proceedings anyway.) On the other hand the tone should be more friendly. Boris is a heroic figure whose achievements are already substantial and accumulate by the week – criticisms should be in that context. Perhaps he should invite the Conservatve London Assembly Members in for drinks more often.