March report from City Hall

My report from City Hall

No.33: 30th January 2016 to 17th March 2016

1 Introduction

This will be my last update from City Hall before the elections on 5th May, when my term of office expires. It has been a pleasure and privelege to serve you on the London Assembly for the last 4 years. I am standing for re-election, for   a further term . If I am re-elected, then normal sevice will resume soon after, with whoever becomes the new Mayor of London under my scrutiny!.

We will soon after that have the referendum over membership of the European Union, so for this edition I am introducing   a new section in my report on Europe.

You may be interested in my exchange with the Mayor over his legacy.

May I finally wish everyone a belated Happy Chinese New Year?

For my Chinese New Year message please click here.

This month’s London quiz question: (answer at the end):

Q:. Great Ormond Street Hospital received the copyright of which book in 1929, providing significant future funding?

2 Contents and just some of the highlights :                 

Please click the links to the issues that interest you:

3 Policing

  • Including the latest on police numbers and the Commissioner’s road show

4 Transport and HS2

  • Including cycle superhighways, threats to bus services , Camden Town tube, HS2

5 Housing

  • Including resident consultation, student and young people housing , Strawberry Vale, street homelessness

6 Planning and environment

  • Including tall buildings, North London Business Park, Grahame Park

7 Fire Service

  • Including latest on the Mayor’s cut of 13 fire engines and my resignation as Resources Committee chair

8 Education


  • Including further education, apprenticeships

9 Europe


  • Including my robust exchanges with the Mayor

10 Other


  • Including the Conservatives’ stealth mansion tax, the Olympic Park Orbit, R4’s ‘Moral Maze’

11 Written questions to the Mayor

12 Problem solving and casework

13  Quiz answer 



3 Policing 

At his ‘roadshow’ in Barnet last month, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe confirmed what we all knew: that crime is officially rising in Barnet, year on year: see his PowerPoint slide:

See also my letter about this, with detailed numbers.

This may be to do with the continuing fall in police numbers, where locally and London wide the Met. is even falling short of Special Constables, despite the Mayor’s 2012 pledge to increase their numbers. In Camden the number fell 49% from 268 in May 2012 to only 137 in December 2015; and in Barnet the number fell 28% from 156 in May 2012 to only 112 in December 2015.

Apart from this fall in Specials, compared to May 2010 when the Conservatives came to office:

in Barnet, the current police numbers are:

  • 520 warranted officers, which is 14% or 87 fewer
  • 48 PCSOs, 72% or 124 fewer

In Camden, the current police numbers are:

  • 884 warranted officers, which is 26% or 229 fewer
  • 29PCSOs, 76% or 91 fewer


The bad news doesn’t end there, I am afraid, either. We continue to suffer from abstractions, where our officers are taken off borough to plug gaps elsewhere, usually central London events: 728 officer shifts across Barnet and Camden every month! 

You may have seen the news reports of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s   report into the Met, which found it in need of improvement. This is the summary. and the full  report.

There is still time to support my petition to save neighbourhood policing and the other emergency services, which please sign if you can, and encourage others to do so too.

I am particularly concerned about their findings on the impact of the shortage of trained detectives (700 to 800) which is in part responsible for poor detection rates for burglary for example; and the broken promises about the ‘new policing model’ which the shortage has derailed. See also my letter to the local papers.

At the Police Committee on 25th February, in addition to these issues, I also raised the issue of adults with learning difficulties’ experiences of the justice system as victims and as suspects.

I have continued to follow up the issue of children being held overnight in police cells: the youngest last year was only 10 years old.

The   11th February Police Committee was about policing and road crime. I raised issues about drivers with overseas licences; the poor response from the police to an emergency call reporting an apparently drunk driver; issues about resourcing and road incident statistics; and the lack of connectivity for ANPR in Barnet. I am following these issues up in more detail.

You may have heard about the Alcohol abstinence pilot, re drunk driving and violence offences, which has had a lot of publicity.

I again raised with the Mayor, the policing issues in Hampstead.

Finally, on firearms officers, please see here.

4 Transport including HS2

Crossrail 1 is progressing well, and I had the opportunity to visit the very impressive work at Paddington station, with Assembly colleagues Val Shawcross and Tom Copley:

Andrew Dismore, Val Shawcross and Tom Copley

Andrew Dismore, Val Shawcross and Tom Copley

TfL have announced their proposals for consultation on Cycle Superhighway Route CS11 between Swiss Cottage and the West End. I am submitting a number of detailed questions to TfL about it, and am arranging a site visit to meet them to discuss the scheme.

And a new North-South Cycle Superhighway (CS6) between Stonecutter Street and King’s Cross with changes to King’s Cross Gyratory, too.

I would be interested in your views on these plans.

The night tube at weekends is now set to go ahead, but I am concerned about the potential impacts on residents living near the tracks.

At the Assembly Transport plenary, I raised the issue of the bus routes threatened by the decision of Conservative Hertfordshire County Council to cut the funding for cross boundary routes, which could have a major impact in Barnet if not replaced. I regret I did not get very satisfactory answers from the Mayor and TfL.

See also changes to the 263 bus route.

I continue to press for an earlier transfer of Thameslink to TfL.

I am supporting the residents’ petition asking for the transfer to be brought forward immediately, which I urge you to support.


95 per cent of the consultation respondents supported the TfL plans for the Camden Town station upgrade. Subject to funding and the relevant permissions, work on the station project could begin in 2019, for completion in 2023/4.

To meet the demand, and make journeys through the station easier for customers, a wide range of improvements are proposed. These benefits could include:

    • A new second entrance and exit to the station
    • Three new escalators
    • Step-free access from the street to trains, with two new lifts
    • More space to change between trains
  • The station remaining open during busy periods and removing the need for frequent crowd control measures


The House of Commons committee examining the HS2 Bill has published its rather disappointing report.

See also the HS2 Euston Action Group Newsletter.

HS2 will also affect other parts of the constituency beyond Euston. I visited Alexandra Place near Swiss Cottage to meet residents who will be affected by the proposed HS2 vent shaft.

I also questioned Sir Edward Lister, the Mayor’s chief of staff about HS2, Euston, and Old Oak Common in the Regeneration Committee.

I continue to back calls for a period of free parking in Barnet town centres.

Finally, I am concerned about double standards about advertising on the tube. See video here.

5 Housing and regeneration

The Regeneration Committee held hearings into residents’ consultation and involvement in major estate schemes. This was an opportunity to expose the shortcomings of Barnet Council especially concerning West Hendon and Brent Cross, contrasted with the inclusive and genuine consultation of Camden in the Bacton Low Rise development which I recently visited with Assembly Housing Chair, Tom Copley.

Andrew Dismore and Tom Copley

Andrew Dismore and Tom Copley


To see what regeneration has meant to residents in West Hendon, the recent BBC programme tells it as it is, as well as this article in the Guardian.

I visited   Middlesex University Students Union, to see their exhibition about student housing in the private rented sector which I have since followed up on a number of occasions, including pressing for more affordable rents for students, an article on student housing and a full motion at the Assembly , which was passed unanimously .

I have been increasingly concerned about the delays in addressing the faulty gas supply for residents living in Strawberry Vale estate in East Finchley.

Which I have followed up with a letter to Lord Kerslake, the chair of Peabody Housing.

We have also seen a large increase in the numbers of street homeless.

Finally, see my response to Zac Goldsmith’s visit to Colindale.


6 Planning and environment

I have become increasingly concerned about the increasing number of applications for tall buildings in the constituency, including the decision of the Secretary of State to overrule Camden Council and permit the 100 Avenue Road block, the application for a dominating tower in Edgware, and the plans for Brent Cross/ Cricklewood, as well as the towers in West Hendon. I proposed a motion at the City Hall plenary meeting about this, which was passed despite Conservative opposition. See also my letter to the local papers.

Having visited residents living near the North London Business Park, I have submitted objections to the scheme.

I also went to see the plans for the revised schemes for Grahame Park. I am concerned that we will see the same problems arising there as on West Hendon, with leaseholders and temporary tenants in particular badly losing out.

Overall Barnet is set to lose 900 social homes from the estate regeneration schemes. For a comparison between the two borough’s approaches , see the letter published in the CNJ written by my councillor colleague Adam Langleben.

7 Fire Service

I have continued to battle with the Mayor over his intention to overrule the Fire Authority and to impose unnecessary cuts of 13 fire engines.

The Mayor admitted he did not know of extent of fire station closures- but orders cuts anyway.

Boris Johnson thinks having 9 fire stations off the run is a “pointless statistic”.

The public are also standing with the Fire Authority in supporting the alternative balanced budget option which I produced, with 70% supporting us in the consultation, which the Mayor has ignored.

However, the Mayor is determined to implement these damaging cuts of 13 fire engines. He has now issued a formal direction to the Fire Authority to bend to his will, which cuts were approved by the Fire Authority Urgency Committee on the votes of the Conservative member and chair’s casting vote. Labour voted against, but as the Lib Dem and Green members did not turn up, we did not have a majority.

As I am not prepared as Chair of the Authority Resources Committee to preside over the implementation of the Mayor’s wholly unnecessary cuts of 13 fire engines and 188 firefighters’ jobs, I have resigned from this position with immediate effect. The chair of the committee has now been taken by the Lib Dem.

On a different note, you probably saw coverage of Exercise Unified Response, the impressive international emergency services exercise led by the London Fire Brigade, financed by the EU to the tune of 1 million Euros:

You may be aware that there are four disused cottages at the rear of West Hampstead fire station. I am arguing for them to be refurbished for key worker, preferably firefighter, housing. This has been agreed in principle, but will be subject to the detailed case stacking up. I visited the Fire Station to inspect what would need to be done, and to meet the watch on duty.

8 Education


The City Hall Education Panel on which I sit looked at the challenges facing Further Education colleges.


I am concerned that the Mayor’s failing apprenticeship programme is entrenching London’s gender divide.


I visited the SOAS students union, to support their campaign for justice for the university’s cleaners.

Andrew Dismore AM with Will Armston-Sheret, Chair of SOAS Labour Club

Andrew Dismore AM with Will Armston-Sheret, Chair of SOAS Labour Club

I spoke out over antisemitism on campus.

I visited the North Finchley mosque educational open day; and the Knowledge Quarter event to promote apprenticeships.

9 Europe

With the forthcoming referendum, the debate over UK membership of the European Union is assuming greater prominence , and is highly relevant to London and to our work at City Hall.

In 1975, as a young student, I voted for UK withdrawal from the EU. But times have moved on, and the world is a very different place now. I support our continued EU membership. For some of the reasons , see my letter to the local press; an article I wrote last month; and my recent exchanges with the Mayor.

At our last MQT, I challenged the Mayor over his Chief of Staff’s edict to ban the Mayor’s senior staff from opposing the Mayor’s position on the referendum.

10 other matters

I was very surprised to see that the Conservatives are planning a stealth mansion tax through probate fees: –

I have also been probing what is a growing scandal over the Olympic Park Orbit sculpture, now to be turned into a slide!

See also my letter to the LLDC Chief Executive, following up the Plenary session.

I was pleased to attend and speak at the Camden Holocaust Memorial Day event at Wiener Library, especially, as they have an exhibition to mark the often forgotten 1915 Armenian genocide.

Finally, you may be interested in my appearance on BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Moral Maze’ over the return of looted art from museums.

11 Written questions to the Mayor

I tabled a full range of written questions. Please also see written questions and answers for March.

If you have suggestions for questions that you would like me to ask the Mayor, please email me.

12 Problem solving and casework

My City Hall assistant is Arjun Mittra who manages incoming correspondence, casework and my diary:

  • Quiz answer


Q:. Great Ormond Street Hospital received the copyright of which book in 1929, providing significant future funding?

A: Peter Pan


Andrew Dismore AM

London Assembly Member for Barnet & Camden

Twitter: @Andrew_Dismore