Thursday, January 20, 2011

This House Believes...

Yesterday's Assembly meeting did not conclude when transport questions finished. Often motions are placed on the agenda for debate and this time there were five of them:

Dangerous Dogs

Conservative Steve O'Connell proposed a motion calling for more action to tackle the growing problem of dangerous dogs, particularly legislation outlawing so called 'weapon dogs' in the same way that guns and knives are controlled. The proliferation of unpleasant mastiffs is noticeable across London and Steve's constituency saw a very nasty death with a dog involved recently. This dog, whilst clearly dangerous, was not one of the breeds currently prohibited. The motion was approved unanimously.

GLA Pay Freeze

In accordance with government policy and reflecting the current economic challenges, pay is to be frozen for members and staff. The Green's Darren Johnson proposed exempting the small number of staff on Grade 3 or below from the freeze, again in line with government policy. He was supported by the Liberal Democrats and given that the total cost would be only £50,000 the rest of the Assembly agreed. Nobody wants to disadvantage the poorest employees during these difficult times.

So far, so consensual - but things were about to get more interesting.

Olympic Legacy

Lib Dem, Dee Doocey vacated that chair so that she could propose a motion demanding public sector funding for new developments in the Olympic Park, to encourage a more mixed community. The Conservatives opposed this motion, with Olympic spokesman Andrew Boff explaining that the existing £9.3 billion should be sufficient to lift anywhere off its knees. As a resident of Hackney he wanted the East End to be dynamic and self sufficient, rather than continuing to need public subsidies once the games left town. The motion was approved with support from Greens, Labour and Independent Richard Barnbrook.

Although nobody could say where the money would come from...

New Year Sponsorship

This year the free travel home was provided courtesy of consumer credit firm . There has been a lot of controversy about this sponsorship deal, although the complainers weren't rushing to stump up the money themselves. Labour's Jennette Arnold proposed a motion attacking the mayor and calling for a code of ethics to be applied to advertising and sponsorship deals.

Attacking Boris is par for the course and naturally we opposed them, but the suggested 'code of ethics' is potentially more worrying. For who is to judge what is acceptable? I know that lots of Labour and Green politicians think they are uniquely equipped to provide such guidance - indeed in some cases it's what lights their candle and motivates them to seek election - but do we really want politicians as arbiters of good taste?

I gave my team a free vote - and three members, Gareth Bacon, Victoria Borwick and Brian Coleman, chose to abstain. Conservative James Cleverly used his background in financial services to pick the flawed motion to pieces, but it was approved in the end by the Labour, Green and Lib Dem members.

Tube Strikes

Conservative Dick Tracey tabled an urgent motion condemning ASLEF for their threat to strike on the day of the Royal Wedding. To debate this at such short notice we needed the Assembly's agreement, but this was not forthcoming. Labour, Green and Lib Dem members voted not to accept the motion for debate.

At this point the meeting ended.


weggis said...

Was there any detail attached to the "Code of Ethics"? I'd like to have a peek.

I agree that there is a problem in defining which "ethics" but nevertheless I also think that as a Public Body spending our money these things ought to be taken into account.

Notice how I have refrained from making any jokes about "Ethics County Counthil", oh blast i just did.

Roger Evans said...

There wasn't which is part of the problem. I'd hate to see the Assembly set itself up as a committee for public morality...

TfL do already have a code but it is - rightly in my view - quite limited.

Peter Hulme Cross said...

It's not a 'Code of Ethics' that is needed, Roger, it is a bit of Common Sense and better judgment from TfL and the Mayor. They should simply not be endorsing a short term loans company, which charges relatively huge rates of interest, just after Christmas when many people are likely to have overspent. Boris tacitly admitted as much in his LBC interview reported here...

Wonga certainly took advantage of the advertising space - at Leicester Square Tube station every third advert on the escalator was for Wonga and I expect other stations were similar.

It's just the wrong message at the wrong time and I thought TfL and the Mayor would have had more sense.

Mrs Angry said...

For once I'd agree, with you, Rog: no offence, but I'm sure we'd all hate to see the Assembly set itself up as a committee for public morality ...