Labour councillors will summon the Mayor before the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee tonight to answer questions about his decision to raid emergency reserves for £729,000 of funding to mayoral advisors and communications after the Council decided to cut the budgets in March.
The decisions have sparked condemnation with councillors wanting to use the money to safeguard frontline services from cuts in the coming years. Instead the Mayor has brushed aside the Council's constitution rulebook and is trying to force through the money, £296,000 of which would be spent on further mayoral advisors and £433,000 would go on saving East End Life even though the Mayor has always argued it doesn't cost the Council a penny.
Labour's application to 'call-in' the Mayor's funding decision urges the cross-party Overview and Scrutiny Committee to investigate whether or not the Mayor has overstretched his powers and states:
"it is particularly worrying that the Mayor writes in his report that he was “particularly concerned that the decision regarding funding of his Mayoral Office would leave him with insufficient support to carry out his role as elected Mayor” even though neighbouring Mayoral authorities in Hackney and Newham operate with no budgets for advisors and instead rely on their Cabinet members."
The O&S Committee will have to decide whether or not the budget transfers fall foul of the Budget set by Council, any decision against the Mayor could trigger the Council's senior finance and legal officers to report to Council on the lawfulness of the Mayor's move.
Ahead of the call in Labour's Spokesperson for Resources, Cllr Carlo Gibbs, said:
"By raiding funds that are there to protect residents services, just to fund his personal entourage, the Mayor is acting recklessly and selfishly. Not only is he ignoring the democratic will of the council, he's disgracefully cutting resources for our vulnerable residents when they need it the most."