Kingston Liberal Democrats reject claims from Conservative MLA Tony Arbour that the Tory Mayor of London Boris Johnson is “on the side of council payers… especially those on low or fixed incomes”.
Apparently the Conservative Mayor has been able to freeze the GLA precept of Council Tax contributions by “being tough on costs and driving up efficiency”, and is doing all this hard work in the interest of struggling Londoners.
We simply don’t recognise what Cllr Arbour is saying. If anything, costs to low income residents under Mayor Johnson has gone up considerably.
Staggering Bus Fare rises
Bus fares rose by a staggering 20% this year, adding hundreds of pounds to the annual commuting costs for many low income Kingston residents who rely on buses to get to their place of work or study.
[Interestingly, fares were frozen for those who can afford to fork out for a monthly or annual travel pass, or want to use gas guzzling vehicles to drive into the city.]
Budgets slashed, Freedon Passes cost us more
Budgets for the education, social and other Council services we provide to low income and vulnerable residents are also being stripped of funds by the Mayor. He has raised the cost for local authorities’ subsidy of the Freedom Pass by £1million, and has put a £70,000 ‘Crossrail’ charge on our local schools to pay for a railway line which goes through North London.
We do admit that Boris has indeed cut some spending from the Mayor’s office. He stopped funding the tradition of New Year’s Eve free travel on overground trains, unfairly penalising areas of London without Tube stations such as Kingston. He also refuses to sponsor Europe’s largest anti-racist festival ‘Rise’ in Hyde Park, so that this wonderful multi-cultural free music event has had to be cancelled.
Emergency Services Cuts
The Conservative Mayor is also punishing the budgets of the capital’s emergency services. The London Fire Authority needs a 13% increase in Council Tax contributions as their budgets are slashed by the Mayor. The Metropolitan Police budget is to be cut by £48million.
Useless Vanity Projects
But the Conservative Mayor of London is happy to spend our money on other, more dubious projects - such as the considerable fees for feasibility studies and consultations for his various vanity projects: ‘Boris Island’ airport, the 2012 ‘Piffle Tower’ monument, and the re-design of the Routemaster bus. He has also pledged £75,000 towards a USA day in the capital, aimed at honouring wealthy American tourists and celebrating their culture.
The London Mayor’s spending choices worthy of praise? Cllr Arbour, stop writing such piffle in Kingston newspapers.