LDA "Treated Like The Mayor's Personal Cheque Book"

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 128 months ago
LDA "Treated Like The Mayor's Personal Cheque Book"
City Hall and Tower Bridge

This is the damning conclusion of an audit into the London Development Agency under Ken Livingstone. During his eight years in power, millions were squandered on pet projects, approved without appropriate checks and balances, says the report, which was authored by Patience Wheatcroft at the behest of her long-time pal and occasional back-scratcher Boris Johnson.

Contentious projects, like a world-class aquarium in the Silvertown Quays complex, were given Ken's glad-hand and pushed ahead despite concerns about cost and viability. The LDA, whose head Lee Jasper was forced to quit in the dying days of the Livingstone regime, became "fat and siloed" under such complacency.

Yet despite the Johnson camp snouting for a smoking gun of corruption, the report states that such profligacy arose through incompetence and mismanagement rather than anything more sinister. Livingstone, who refused to cooperate with the audit on the understandable grounds that the largely Tory panel might not be entirely unbiased, has hit back, dismissing the proceedings as a "kangaroo court" and listing recent initiatives - the gas-guzzler fee waiver, the potentially costly Routemaster project, the canning of the Venezuelan gas deal - that Ken claims will prove costlier than anything the LDA ever spent.

Wheatcroft's final recommendation is that the LDA be denuded of power and re-focused on commissioning projects instead of running them, a move Livingstone claimed would mean "deterioration of the economic situation and quality of life" in London.

With Ken apparently confirming that he sees himself in the City Hall frame for 2012, we don't expect this to go away quietly. It's like the election never happened and they're still out their on the campaign trail, like those Japanese soldiers still on maneuvers in the south Pacific who haven't heard the war ended decades ago. Can we really take another four years of this?

Image from toguko's Flickrstream via the Londonist pool

Last Updated 17 July 2008