· 2015/16: Use £20.81m savings for self-build homes fund, panic buttons for Tube workers and further council tax cuts

Money raised from cutting the cost of City Hall politics and scrapping free travel passes for flatmates of TfL staff should be used to help council taxpayers, frontline workers and aspiring home-owners, according to GLA Conservative Gareth Bacon.
£20.81m of savings can be generated from:

  • Scrapping ‘nominee passes’ for friends, flatmates and lodgers of TfL staff = £18.7m
  • Cutting funding for City Hall politics by 5% = £110k
  • Cutting waste from taxpayer funded transport body ‘Travelwatch’ – £1m
  • Making surrounding boroughs pay a fair share for West London’s Old Oak Common development = £1m

The Mayor will be urged to spend the savings on:

  • Creating a self-build match fund¹ to pay for an initial 100 custom homes on infill sites, and kickstart the self-building industry = £2.5m
  • A trial of 1,000 wearable GPS panic buttons² to protect cabbies, Tube and train staff from on-duty violence = £330,715
  • Switching off 100 traffic lights in London at night³ to slash vehicle emissions, wasted fuel and journey delays. A pilot study = £1m
  • Regenerating 5-8 London street markets4, improving the surrounding area and boosting takings for surrounding shops, cafes and pubs = £1m
  • Further cutting the Mayor’s share of council tax5 = £16m

Gareth Bacon, GLA Conservative budget spokesman said:

Gareth-opinion“In challenging economic times, the Mayor is doing a good job with London’s finances. He’s cutting waste while delivering real practical help for Londoners such as another real terms freeze in fares and ongoing council tax cuts. But, he can go further and here’s how. He should cut the cost of City Hall politics, needless public funded bodies and abolish TfL’s free-travel-for-flatmates scheme. This cash should then be used to further cut council tax, kick start the self-building industry for homes and pilot new technology to protect frontline staff from violence. In a time of tight budgets and limited public money, this is common sense.”

¹A London ‘Self-Build Fund’ would promote building homes on disused sites. A pilot of 100 homes using this fund would kick start the ‘self-build’ industry. Based on an estimated cost of £50k per unit and the fund being match-funded by the Government, £2.5m would be required to pay for this. The report “Gap In The Market: Building new homes on disused sites” proposed a ‘disused site’ action plan which can build an estimated £10k homes in 10 years.
²Turning off traffic lights at night in the right places would cut idling and therefore vehicle emissions, motorists would save cash as less fuel is wasted, and journey times would be slashed meaning deliveries are completed quicker and cabbies are able to take on more jobs. Switching off lights for the six-hour overnight period across 80 per cent of the Capital’s 2,532 relevant junctions would cut delays across the city by 2,251 hours every day – saving motorists £40m by 2020 in saved time and fuel. Find out more in the policy report: “Green Light: Turning off London’s traffic lights at night”
³Wearable safety and tracking devices can locate a member of staff and send alerts in the event of an emergency. The kit can be clipped on to a belt, communicates over 2G or 3G, and tracks location in real time via GPS. Similar ‘panic button’ technology is already being used in hotels in New York City to protect housekeepers from abuse, as well as by overnight bus drivers in Buenos Aires. A trial of this kit was recommended in the policy report: “Risky Business: Protecting frontline workers from attack whilst on duty”
4 A ‘Markets First’ approach to high street regeneration would improve surrounding areas and generate a ‘multiplier effect’ in revenue for nearby businesses. An additional £1m should be added to the Mayor’s High Street Fund (raising it to £10m). This could generate up to a £1.7m ‘multiplier effect’ for surrounding shops, cafes and pubs. Find out more in the policy report: “Market Stalled: Ensuring London’s street markets can survive and thrive”
5 The actual Band D council tax precept for 2014/15 is £299.00. The current proposed Band D council tax precept for 2015/16 is £295.00 (-1.3% on 2014/15). After these proposed savings, the council tax precept for average Band D would be: £288.00 – a total percentage saving of 3.68% (£11).