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London mayor draws fire
March 02, 2013
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LONDO: Two government ministers have expressed “serious concern” at the slow progress being made by London Mayor Boris Johnson to help the capital’s economy.

Business Minister Michael Fallon and Housing Minister Mark Prisk wrote to City Hall outlining their concerns over the mayor’s failure to spend £111 million.

The money was given by Whitehall to the mayor a year ago to invest in infrastructure and other projects, the British Broadcasting Coporation (BBC) reported.

City Hall said the criticism was a “panicky response.”

Mayor Boris Johnson’s officials said he was not prepared to “water-cannon” money at schemes without being sure they would bring benefit.

The disagreement is revealed in an exchange of letters between the ministers and the co-chairmen of the London Enterprise Panel (LEP), Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse and Harvey McGrath, the BBC said.

On Feb.14, Fallon and Prisk wrote to City Hall saying: “There is now serious concern around the pace of progress by the LEP in London.

“We appreciate that the LEP started later than most due to a number of factors and its function is different from other LEPs (advisory rather than decision-making).

“It is important however that, as other LEPs are doing, the panel starts to have an impact on growth through the allocation of Growing Places Fund and by publication of a clear set of priorities and action which will support these.”

The ministers have demanded the mayor produce a “growth plan” for the capital by April.

But in a terse letter in response, the LEP chairmen reject the criticism.

“Londoners will want to see lasting benefits from very considerable sums we are investing and due diligence is therefore vital.

“We are sure you will accept that it is not a good Conservative habit to water cannon money at ill-defined targets without proper control.

“Indeed, cries of haste from Whitehall ministries could be misread as a panicky response to a more general perception that failure of the coalition’s macroeconomic policy is failing to deliver growth.

“Serious and successful growth policy requires serious scrutiny of public funds.”


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