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GLA - MAYOR FIGHTS BACK OVER BUDGET

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London mayor Ken Livingstone and his team have hit back at opponents of his budget. ...
London mayor Ken Livingstone and his team have hit back at opponents of his budget.
The mayor's office ridiculed the Association of London Government for losing credibility, while Conservatives on the assembly were snubbed as Mr Livingstone withdrew his offer to give a Tory a year as deputy mayor.
A precept increase of 22.6% was agreed after Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens joined forces against the Tories to accept the reduced figure.
Mayoral policy adviser Neale Coleman hit out at ALG chief executive Martin Pilgrim's comment that the budget represented a 'reality gap' on the part of the mayor (LGC, 2 February).
'The only reality gap has been with the ALG, who have put forward totally untenable and absurd figures from day one and as a result have lost all credibility with us,' he said.
'They have put forward quite unrealistic analysis at a time when everybody knows one of the many political concerns in London is police and policing.'
He said the ALG's 'megaphone campaigning' had lost it influence over the budget.
ALG chair Sir Robin Wales (Lab) said the initial 31% increase Mr Livingstone proposed was not entirely realistic or it would not have been knocked down to 22.6%. 'It is now up to our local government colleagues to judge whether a 22.6% increase is justifiable. The government itself increased police funding by 8%, thereby paying for 850 of the new 1,050 police officers.'
In a slight to the Tory group, the mayor is to offer the deputy mayorship to Labour's Nicky Gavron for a second year instead of rotating it to a Conservative. He cited the Tories' opposition to his budget, and said he feared that if he were unable to continue as mayor a Tory deputy mayor would reverse his policies.
Tory group leader Bob Neill said the mayor had given Ms Gavron a second year in return for Labour's support over the budget. This proved assembly members were compromised by accepting jobs from the mayor, he claimed.
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