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The freeze in Council Tax precept proposed by Mayor of London Boris Johnson was today apporved by the London Assembly.

The details are as follows:

The Mayor’s budget has been approved unamended by the London Assembly today. It will deliver safer streets, improve the Tube and boost measures to help London weather the recession, whilst not demanding any extra cash from London’s council taxpayers.

Last year the Mayor put a stop to the spiralling costs of the previous administration which had overseen an increase of over 153 per cent in the GLA portion of council tax.  Now in 2010, London’s three million households will once again benefit from a freeze in the precept, as well as improvements to make London a safer, cleaner and more attractive city to live in.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London said: "This is a budget that exemplifies the time in which we live. Over the years we have seen an exorbitant level of waste and weak financial controls at City Hall that have cost Londoners dearly.  The era of endless tax rises has had its day.. Over the last two years, we have proved that it is possible to still deliver on frontline services without extravagant spending.

‘London is not only leading the way out of this recession, but is also demonstrating how to tackle big issues like crime and safety and deliver vital investments in infrastructure, without increasing the financial burden on council taxpayers .’

Over 70 per cent of the £0.9 billion raised by the precept will go to the Metropolitan Police Service to help them to build on their success of reducing crime to the lowest level in the capital for over 12 years, continue with the civilianization of staff in custody suites – thereby freeing up officers to go out on the beat, and to maintain the record numbers of uniformed presence on the transport network with the Safer Transport Teams, Transport Hub Teams and Town Centre Teams. The budget includes plans for over half a billion pounds of additional savings next year and a total of £2.4 billion over the next three years in recognition of the severe public spending constraints facing the country and the Mayor’s commitment not to add to the burden of Londoners unnecessarily.

Since he was elected in 2008, the Mayor has already overseen the banning of booze on public transport, the planting of around 5000 new street trees, free travel for veterans and 24-hour free travel for older people. Transport is getting safer, with an 18 percent drop in crime on buses and they are now more uniformed crime fighters on the buses than at any other time in the last 30 years and an additional 50 BTP officers on London’s Suburban Rail network. £4m has been provided to transform London’s parks and £2m to create 10 low carbon zones across the city.. 2000 public and private buildings across the capital have been retrofitted to be more energy efficient and the provision of rape crisis centres in the capital will quadruple.

On the District, Circle and Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines there will be new air conditioned trains, whilst the Oysterisation of National Rail Services in London are make journeys simpler, quicker and often cheaper. And, after being elected during a horrendous spate of youth killings, fatal teenage stabbings are down by 50 per cent and the numbers of killings in the city are at its lowest level for ten years.

Other key priorities include delivering the Mayor’s Economic Recovery Action Plan, the largest number of affordable homes in a single Mayoral term, an end to rough sleeping by 2012 and to continue to work to reduce serious youth violence and prevent young people becoming victims of crime through the Mayor’s Time For Action Plan. He has also delivered on a key manifesto commitment that the element of the council tax precept that will go to support the delivery of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will remain frozen at 38 pence a week for the average London council tax payer.

The Mayor’s consolidated budget consists of five individual budgets – Metropolitan Police Authority, Transport for London, London Fire and Emergency planning Authority, London Development Agency and core Greater London Authority. The total revenue budget expenditure is £14 billion.

Regular readers will know that I would have liked Boris to go further and deliver a 10% cut in the Council Tax precept. But he is still proving a transformational Mayor of London. Freezing the precept means its burden on Londoners falling in real terms. Nobody should be in any doubt about the importace of that achievement.

The London Assembly Labour Group's Budget Amendment's were risible. They proposed  lots of extra spending but maintaining a Council Tax freeze by raising the reserves. For instance for the Fire Brigade their full list of "Efficiences and savings" consists of the following: "Reduction in reserves: £7,862,695." On TfL the reserves are hit by £6 million. On the police by £2.6 million. So Labour propose an unfunded Council Tax freeze. It is not a credible, sustainable budget.

Under TfL their "savings and effiencies" included fleecing motorists an extra £15 million than budgted by retaining the western extension of the Congestion Charge zone. They similarly offered no concession to public opinion by proposing to save the bendy bus. No savings were offered in the London Assembly's own Budget – where the Labour Group to make a real difference rather than just score points. The Conservatives, led by Roger Evans, proposed a £250,000 cut in Member Services. This would have set an example by cutting the amount of our money politicians spend on themselves – Labour wouldn't have it.

The Labour Group proposed scrapping the Mayor of London's US Day event despite the importance to the London economy of American tourism, 1.9 million visitors spent £1.3 billion in 2008. Labour said they wanted to save the £75,000 cost but it is hoped to get sponsorship in any case. No explanation is given by Labour as to why they wish this event to be cancelled while an array of other events are allowed to proceed. I had hoped that the election of President Obama would cause the mindless anti Americanism of the British Left to diminish. Evidently not.

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