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"Two things always strike me at this time of year, when the mayor's draft budget is unveiled and probed: one, what a lot of money this tier of London government gets; two, how relatively little power comes with it. Boris Johnson’s proposals for 2015-16 and the London Assembly's initial views on it have again inspired that response.
"What's changing, though, is the intensifying impact of the government’s spending cuts and the mayor’s need to adjust to it. Then there’s the big, big, background context - a Greater London population about to top its previous record of 8.6 million, set way back in 1939, and surge towards nine million and beyond.
"... Meanwhile, and significantly, Transport for London's range of uses to the mayor is expanding. In his (recommended) foreword to [a draft budget] committee report, its chair John Biggs notes that TfL has become one of Mayor Johnson's main tools for encouraging jobs and economic growth in London. The controversial garden bridge plan, primarily a privately-owned tourist attraction, is one example of this, with TfL required to put £30m towards building it. The commuter-free Thames cable car is an earlier one.
"This could be just the start. Biggs writes that it is easy to imagine a future mayor 'calling on TfL’s capital budget to kick-start development work on the Old Oak Common site', the biggest mayor-led redevelopment scheme since the Olympic Park."