Yesterday the London Assembly met to discuss the Mayor's draft budget for 2010/11 and the Conservative group proposed an amendment to cut the budget for "Member Services" by £250,000.
Member Services covers the political support for Assembly Members and their offices and can be spent on staff, stationery, IT and office equipment, staff training and other items needed to run Group offices.
The entire budget is currently worth £2.6 million, so the cut proposed by the Conservatives equated to just shy of a 10% cut (the budget is split between every group in the Assembly, with each group allocated roughly 4% of the budget for every Assembly Member in their party, ie about £104,000 per Member at present).
When the proposed cut was put to the vote at yesterday's meeting all 11 Conservatives voted in favour, but there were 13 votes against and one abstention.
Roger Evans (pictured), the Conservative group leader and budget spokesman, said that it was a "disgrace" that the other parties on the Assembly refused to support his move:
“We proposed this 10 per cent reduction in recognition that in straightened times all organisations need to tighten their belts. It is a great disappointment to me that it was rejected. How is this decision going to appear to council tax-paying Londoners who have to make savings where they can, when people who represent them aren’t willing to do the same?"
Boris Johnson did not make such a proposal himself on the grounds that since the Assembly is the body which scrutinises him, he didn't want to be seen as trying to stifle its ability to do that in any way. However, he did say that if the Assembly had voted in favour of the proposed cut, he would happily include it in his budget.
PS This came on the same day that the European Conservatives and Reformists on the European Parliament's Budget Committee voted against a €1,500 increase in MEPs' monthly staff allowance. Needless to say, the majority of MEPs on the committee outvoted the MEPs from the ECR group and passed the increase.