As you may have seen, Lee Jasper’s response to the ‘Forensic Audit Panel’ report appears in the comments on the previous post.

This is Ken Livingstone’s response, as issued a short time ago in a news release:

When he came to power Boris Johnson abolished the properly independent enquiry into Lee Jasper headed by Rabinder Singh QC, of Matrix Chambers and instead appointed an entirely non-independent panel, headed by Patience Wheatcroft, of which four out of five members were also members of the Tory Party – including the chair herself. A body which has four Tory party members out of five members in total cannot in any way be considered independent or objective but even this kangaroo court has not been able to find any evidence of corruption or even rule breaking.

The proposals contained in the panel’s report would be disastrous for the LDA and indicate the clear difference in priorities. The report’s proposals would lead to a huge reduction in development and economic regeneration in London. The report’s proposal that the LDA should fundamentally hand its funds to the boroughs for delivery of programmes would merely lead to the Tory-controlled boroughs cutting their council tax-funded programmes by the same amount, leading to a reduction of overall regeneration investment and spending in London: this is the exact opposite of the investment that is required to deal with London’s growth. The inevitable result will be a deterioration of the economic situation and quality of life in London. The most disadvantaged of Londoners would suffer the worst effects of this proposal.

It is also clear from the Report that the money wasted by this administration in its first two and half months already vastly exceeds any of the wildest and unproved charges it has levied. The waste so far of Boris Johnson’s administration includes £30 million a year extra cost to Transport for London for implementing its cycling programme now that the income to cover it from the £25 a day charge on gas guzzlers will not be received, the embarking on a programme for a new Routemaster bus with conductors which all independent transport experts estimate will cost over £100 million a year, the loss of £15 million to pay for half-price travel for those on income support from Venezuela with the result that Londoners will have to pay for any scheme for subsidised travel, and the £400,000 legal fees paid to Porsche. As a result of these measure Londoners will be hit by many tens of millions of pounds a year worth of unnecessary new charges – far greater than even the wildest charges made or investigated by this panel.

I must admit I haven’t had a chance to read the full report myself yet but I did hear something about a change of focus for the LDA. If that really does amount to it becoming a source of extra money for the boroughs, this will mark the most significant change we’ll have yet seen – and almost certainly not one for the better.

What’s the point of a central, strategic layer of government if it just passes its responsibilities down to the next layer? It’s like the planning application debacle (so far whatever the borough in question has decided has simply been nodded through on every application referred to the Mayor) all over again.

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