London mayor Boris Johnson has recruited a new economic advisor in City Hall.
The role is described as full time, but new appointee Gerard Lyons, formerly of Standard Chartered, will receive £127,200 and work for 29.6 hours a week which sounds to us like an awfully generous definition of 'full-time'.
The appointment has also attracted criticism over its potential similarity to the role of deputy mayor for business and enterprise, currently occupied by Kit Malthouse. Labour London Assembly Len Duvall apparently thought the same, saying:
"It's truly staggering that Boris has appointed yet another person on an astronomical salary. Paying someone £127,200 a year to work part-time demonstrates how out of touch he is with the life of ordinary Londoners.
"What makes this worse is that Boris already has a deputy mayor for business, and has London & Partners whose job it is to attract overseas trade and investment. We need to know what Mr Lyons will doing for this huge sum of money, why he needs to be paid so much and what process the mayor went through to appoint him."
Note the 'part-time'. So what will Lyons do? According to Boris Johnson:
"It is increasingly evident that if London's businesses are to stay ahead of the game and compete in the global market, we need the best strategies and policies informed by the very best overarching economic advice. I believe that Gerard will bring that expertise to my excellent team at City Hall."
Lyons himself was slightly more specific:
"Part of my job will be defining and protecting London's roles within the European Union. It will also be about reinforcing the fact that London is about much more than just the City – it has great technology, services, retail and even pockets of industry."
None of which explains why an extra person is needed in addition to the the GLA economics team, Kit Malthouse, the International Business Advisory Council for London, the London Enterprise Panel or the mayor's overseas business promotion group London & Partners. Green Party London Assembly Member Jenny Jones concurs:
“The Mayor needs to spend less time rewarding his friends in the banks, and more time helping struggling small businesses. He already has several groups of economics and business advisors, there is no need to hire yet another part-time adviser on a six figure salary.”
In September, Boris Johnson also came in for some flak over his appointment of former Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley. Wadley herself attracted criticism after being less than forthcoming in October's meeting about future use of Olympic volunteers. Lyons' appointment is already looking like it's going to cause some ripples.
Photo by mattomatto in the Londonist Flickr pool.