Friday, March 25, 2011

Mayor's Questions - Cuts and More Cuts

A scrappy Mayor's Questions on Wednesday saw the Labour members highlighting government cuts. The strategy had half an eye on the budget, but appeared to be mainly focused on Saturday's TUC march.

Would the Mayor be joining him on the march, John Biggs wanted to know. Joanne McCartney told us that she would be going too - it wasn't clear if they were trying to drum up support or frighten people away. I asked if non marching Londoners as well as the physical property of our great city would be protected by the police, in case things get ugly. Boris promised that all appropriate measures were being taken and that we wouldn't witness the mob violence and vandalism that accompanied the recent student demonstrations - we shall have to wait and see...

Congestion Charge

Darren Johnson called for emergency measures to ensure we hit European air quality targets and avoid a fine of £3 million. Perhaps it would have been a good idea for Labour ministers not to have signed up to this agreement in the first place. Other countries secured opt outs for their cities but this never occurred to the short termist politicians in Blair's administration. It was focus on the press release and ignore the long term consequences - as in so many cases.

Richard Barnes asked Boris to rule out London Wide congestion charging - the most high profile policy of the Green's now confirmed mayoral candidate Jenny Jones. Boris assured us that it wouldn't happen on his watch, but I'm not so sure that Ken Livingstone wouldn't revive the plans he once had to extend the charge to places like Romford. We don't want it, and with the pollution problem confined to Central London, we don't need it either.

King George Hospital

Others have already raised this issue in written questions, but with the plan to close the A & E now referred to the independent reconfiguration panel for review, I decided to seek the Mayor's support. He stuck to his line that clinical outcomes were the most important yardstick - disappointing in a week when his Labour opponent launched a website objecting to the closure.

Although as the plan has been around for several years, attracting opposition from all parties locally, it is surprising that John Healey and Ken Livingstone didn't launch their website twelve months ago. In those days it was a Labour Government plan and Healey was a Labour minister - so perhaps it isn't surprising, just shamelessly opportunistic. Our campaign has attracted respect precisely because it reaches across all parties and non aligned groups. Livingstone's attempts to politicise it for electoral purposes are not welcomed in Redbridge...

1 comment:

sjm said...

Did Messrs Livingstone and Healey note that Chancellor Darling told the NHS in 2009 that it would have to find £20 BILLION pounds in savings?

No, thought not.