When it comes to spending public money some politicians "get it." Some don't. As Paul Goodman's mentioned in his excellent piece this morning a make of break for whether Boris Johnson manges to be re-elected Mayor of London could well be whether he achieves a decent sized cut in the Council Tax precept. I don't know whether he will or not – most of his team at City Hall are dismissive and advising him against even trying. He has got a lot of other exciting and worthwhile challenges he is also concerned with.
But a source of hope comes in this exchange at the last Mayor's Question Time about a concrete slab in Dalston.
Conservative London Assembly Member Andrew Boff said:
What this was, Mr Mayor, was a vanity scheme by TfL who promised a grand new bus interchange at Dalston, the cost of which would be a £40 million slab of concrete to be built over the East London line extension. For that Dalston lost heritage buildings, the tower blocks that are going to be built on top of the slab are going to have no affordable housing in them whatsoever, and it actually turns out, as anybody visiting Dalston would like to see, that what we have actually paid for, because of this carnage for the local heritage in the area….What we have actually got is one bus stop for either £40 million or £60 million which the London Development Agency (LDA) seems to confirm in its minutes. Mr Mayor, this happened because this regeneration scheme did not listen to local people. What I am asking you to do is to look, if you may, Mr Mayor, at the history of this scheme and make sure that this never, ever, ever happens again. It is an appalling waste of public money. Public money that should have been going into solving some of the deep social problems of the area. Instead, what we have is a bus stop.
Labour London Assembly Member Jeanette Arnold responded:
It was £39 million that was spent on that slab. I do appreciate that Andrew lives locally, but I do wish that he would actually stay with facts.
Then we heard the big beast make his pronouncement. Boris Johnson responded:
Whether it is £39 million or £40 million; it seems to be a lot of money to spend on a slab. So I will
look at it.
Of course we want to be accurate about whether the figure is £39 million, or £40 million. But doesn't this exchange indicate the following? That Andrew Boff "gets it." Boris Johnson "gets it." Jeanette Arnold doesn't "get it."