Five Jobs Boff
Tory candidate for Mayor of Hackney Andrew Boff has announced he will work unpaid if he beats Labour's Jules Pipe in May, as will his Cabinet.
This might sound admirable until you discover Boff can only afford to do this because he already earns about £53,000 a year as a GLA member. And he intends to carry on doing the GLA job and somehow be Mayor in his spare time!
I don't think he understands what an executive Mayor does. It isn't about going to a few meetings and wearing a chain. The executive Mayors in boroughs like Hackney, Lewisham and Newham run organisations with the best part of 5,000 staff and budgets of £1 billion which have a profound impact on local residents' lives - including "life & limb" stuff like child protection. The casework they get is up to 2,000 letters a year. They are paid more than MPs because they have a lot more executive responsibility.
I've worked as an adviser for Group leaders who tried to run the opposition group on a council in their spare time whilst doing another job (in the days before generous Special Responsibility Allowances). It was impossible for them even to do justice to the job of scrutinising the executive without being full time, let alone to politically lead the council. No local government political administration, or ‘cabinet’, in London (possibly in the UK) is now run solely by part-time and/or unpaid people.
A recent scrutiny committee study I was involved in heard plenty of evidence that there was a direct link between the hands-on decision-making and oversight of officers by Jules as Hackney's Mayor and the council's progression from a national laughing-stock and basket case that failed residents to one which wins national improvement awards.
Andrew Boff is also running to be a ward councillor in Queensbridge Ward, where we unseated him in 2008, and he publishes a local magazine and is in business as an IT consultant.
The idea that he can combine all these roles (it's not even legal to be both a ward councillor and Mayor) and make any meaningful impact on the seven-days-a-week job of being Mayor is an insult to the position he is running for and to the intelligence of Hackney's voters.
Far from being a "saving", Boff's suggestions would have the effect of reducing the ability of democratically elected residents to have proper control and oversight of a £1 billion Council operation, as well as reducing the authority’s ability to explain to taxpayers what it’s doing with that money. The current levels of control and oversight that Mr Boff wants to practically eliminate have seen more than £40 million saved over the past few years without making service cuts – the third highest savings total in the country of any local authority– which is now spent each year on more and better frontline services, including millions extra on youth, and has allowed Labour to keep the Council tax frozen for five years.