In response to questions by Labour Member of the London Assembly, Murad Qureshi, Mayor Boris Johnson has admitted that the London Development Agency’s offices in India, established by his predecessor Ken Livingstone to promote London’s interests in one of the world’s most important developing economies, are no longer functioning.
According to the Mayor, ”the LDA’s representatives in Mumbai and Delhi resigned last year and have not yet been replaced”, pending a review that will decide whether the offices should be reopened.
Murad Qureshi AM said: “It is quite disgraceful that the closure of the GLA’s offices in India has been carried out by the back door, without Londoners being informed about the decision to mothball them.
“Developing economies like India’s have grown in global importance due to their having escaped the worst consequences of the recession. It is vital that London’s businesses are properly represented there.”
Murad added: “The Mayor has already conducted a review of the GLA’s international offices. It found that ‘the rationale for London to have offices in key emerging markets is fundamentally sound’ and that they ‘do play an important role in promoting London’s interests, from supporting the capital’s businesses to enhancing the image of our city around the world’.
“The Mayor’s decision to ignore the findings of his own review and allow the Mumbai and Delhi offices to close is utterly irresponsible.”
1. Murad’s questions about the GLA’s India offices and the Mayor’s answers can be consulted here:
2. The Mayor set up a review of the Greater London Authority’s overseas offices in 2008 and it reported its findings in January last year. Headed by the Mayor’s then deputy Ian Clement, the review concluded that there was no case for closing these offices. A press release from the Mayor (16.1.09) reported that “the review found the rationale for London to have offices in key emerging markets is fundamentally sound” and quoted Clement as saying:
“It is absolutely essential given the current financial crisis that we do everything within our power to promote the capital in major markets around the world to ensure London emerges strongly from the downturn.
“We have taken a serious look at whether taxpayers’ money is being spent wisely and how to get the best possible deal for Londoners. The review has found that the GLA’s offices do play an important role in promoting London’s interests, from supporting the capital’s businesses to enhancing the image of our city around the world.”
3. This decision was taken after London’s business community lobbied heavily for the offices to be retained. In a submission to the GLA review the London of Chamber of Commerce and Industry stated:
“Closing the offices in India and China as part of a cost-cutting exercise would be short-sighted and send entirely the wrong signals to potential investors and importers in two of London’s most important potential markets. The GLA may save £1 million, but it is London firms that may ultimately end up paying a much higher price. If the Mayor is not out there promoting London, someone else will be promoting New York, Paris, or Sydney instead.”
The LCCI’s Submission to the GLA Review of London’s International Offices can be consulted here: http://www.londonchamber.co.uk/DocImages/3756.pdf
4. The decision to retain the GLA’s overseas offices was reported in the Evening Standard (19.1.09) under the headline: “Boris saves City Hall ‘embassies’.”