Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Where will Boris Johnson spread London's jam?

Boris Johnson's new chief of the LDA said today that he would try to 'do less and do it better' but would resist 'spreading the jam too thinly.' But as inner London boroughs remain the most deprived, but also the least likely to vote Tory, will more jam now inevitably go to the edge of the doughnut?

Speaking at the first meeting of the new Economic Development committee, Peter Rogers said that they would now shift the focus onto 'outcomes rather than outputs' but admitted that this could lead to less groups being financed by the organisation.

In a clear sign that this would mean less spending, Rogers admitted that funds would now be 'rationed' and said that he wanted to 'get it out of people's minds that we are a giver of grants.' 

He instead insisted that the LDA should now concentrate on being 'an investor of skills' and emphasised that 'an investment requires a return.' 

When it was suggested to him that this would mean that groups with a political and social rather than just economic purpose would miss out, Rogers said only that he would take a 'holistic approach' to spending. He did not make it clear what this meant.

Tory members of the committee also repeatedly tried to get Rogers to condemn how the LDA had been run in the past. However, Rogers resisted obliging them and instead insisted that good work had already been done to improve it's management.

Asked by Tory AM Tony Arbour if he accepted the claims from the Evening Standard that the LDA had become 'a sinking ship' he replied that while he didn't want to comment on the political motivation of these claims, he did not believe them to be an accurate portrayal. 

Speaking to the committee he said that: "The LDA is certainly not a sinking ship, but I would not describe it as a speedboat either."

Which way will the knife go?

So for businesses and groups across the capital waiting to see whether the new mayor will herald a change in their fortunes, Peter Rogers' words will have done little to give either solace or hope. 

However, his stated  desire to move the LDA away from the pages of the scandal sheets to the serious business of redeveloping London was welcome, and his performance certainly gave me confidence in the man charged to do it.

However, with such little clarity from the Mayor's office about where these new spending priorities will be, businesses and groups within the Labour power base will continue to worry about losing more of the much-needed jam. 

But with increasing demands that the outer boroughs should be repaid for their strong support of him, Boris will inevitably need to do something to keep Greater London sweet.
Thanks to Steve Platt for the images


Toneytony said...

The last thing Boris should be in charge of is a donut ;)

Anonymous said...

He's not sure where the donut is or what's in it but whatever has happened he's sure that it will be a wonderful donut eating experience.

Chris said...

As your map shows, it is the inner boroughs especially that need the kind of help that the LDA provides. i just hope that the people who Boris employs will see beyond their political heartlands to the bigger picture of London. Deprivation in any area of London helps nobody.

I think the donut strategy was effective because it played to the perception of outer Londoners that they get a worse deal than the rest. But that is all it is- a perception. As the map shows, the inner cities are the most deprived overall and teh most in need of help. The fact that the correlation between the two maps shows that they overwhelmingly didn't vote for Boris says it all. I just hope that the Tories see beyond this to the bigger picture.

asquith said...

By "do less", he presumably means that he'll be an ineffective cunt. If he does indeed turn out to be a piss-poor administrator & deliver less, will he be taking a salary cut?


eric ray said...

The LDA, despite all the smears from the Standard was effective in providing a platform for small enterprises to get started. It had a remarkably low number of businesses going bust, as would be the case with commercial banks, for example.
So what will Peter Rogers do? If he is just going to act as a commercial bank, what's the point? If he is going to target deprivation what's the difference?
What does Boris think? Does he know what the LDA is?