Conservatives challenge Livingstone on spending

Leading London Conservatives have thrown down the gauntlet to Ken Livingstone after the Mayor unveiled extravagant spending plans akin to the notorious binges of the old GLC era.

Since his re-election in June, the Labour mayor has reported to the London Assembly that he has funded a CND conference, paid for a joining fee for the Association of Nuclear Free Authorities, and given grants to the National Assembly Against Racism organisation, which he helped set up in the 1990s.

Mr Livingstone has also stated that if Michael Moore's controversial film 'Farenheit 9/11 - criticising the Bush administration, its links to the oil industry, and the US decision to go to war with Iraq - had not gained distribution rights in the UK, he would have bought cinema space for Londoners to go and see it.

Criticising this extraordinary extravagance with taxpayer's money, Andrew Pelling, the Conservative's London Assembly finance spokesman said: "The Mayor doubled Londoners' precept in his first four years and if he carries on like this he will no doubt double it again in his second term."

Mr Pelling added: "I'm sure Londoners can think of much better ways to spend their taxes that a return to the old GLC policies of supporting any cause that seems fashionable in left-wing circles at any given time. When public money and resources are being used, there must be more objective criteria than the Mayor's political views."

He promised that Conservatives would keep a close on eye on the Mayor's activities and spending plans - "and will challenge him on his profligacy through the proper authorities if necessary."