So what's the crazy-haired Romanophile done now? Well, proposals in his draft budget, released yesterday, reveal a reduction in the police and fire brigade’s budgets by £262m and £14m respectively. The Greater London Authority will also receieve 1.2% less of the council tax pot. Money that is presumably being redirected into Boris' various transport wheezes and the mysterious London Legacy Development Corporation (download the full budget here).
It's a bitter pill for Londoners to swallow now that those dreadful above-inflation transport increases have come into play. That's the fifith consecutive above-inflation rise too.
Johnson has defended his budget by saying, 'Against a difficult economic background my planned budget will cut council tax while making significant strides in growing our economy, fighting crime and improving transport. I will continue to champion the capital to ensure we get the funding necessary to support the economy and quality of life in this great city.'
But few are convinced. John Biggs, Labour’s London Assembly budget spokesman, has lambasted this latest budget, stating: 'It is ludicrous for the Mayor to claim he can’t help Londoners. There are massive cuts going in and this cut in the council tax is a minuscule amount, roughly 7p a week. Fares have gone up by over 4%!'
'This is an insult to hard-working Londoners who are already struggling with a triple whammy of rising food, fuel and rent costs,' he added.
Even the mild-mannered Liberal Democrats are up in arms. The party's budget spokesman Stephen Knight says: 'I do think there is more the mayor can do to protect services on an ongoing basis without the need for some of these cuts to fire and police stations that we’re seeing. The mayor should focus on keeping services in London that Londoners require, instead of these headline-grabbing attempts at cutting the precept by tiny amounts that nobody’s going to notice.'