My report from City Hall – October 2016
My report from City Hall
No.36: 23rd July 2016 to 6th October 2016
This report covers a longer period than usual, due to the Summer break in proceedings at the Assembly, and I wanted to get a full cycle of meetings in, to report back to you comprehensively .
May I wish my Jewish constituents a belated Shanah Tovah for Rosh Hashanah? As we move into the Jewish New Year, we should remember the contribution the recently deceased President Shimon Peres made to Israel and Jewish people around the world.
This period also saw Sadiq Khan’s first 100 days in office: see here for Sadiq’s mayoral report.
This month’s quiz question: (answer at the end):
Q:. The Great Fire of London began in Pudding Lane, marked by the nearby Monument : but where is the monument to mark the spot where the fire stopped?
Contents and just some of the highlights :
8 Mayor’s report
9 Written questions to the Mayor
10 Problem solving and casework
11 Quiz answer
1 Europe and ‘Brexit’
As you would expect, the fallout from the referendum is taking up a lot of time, as the debate moves on.
I am conducting a survey of opinions, post Brexit: Please complete my EU Survey online by clicking here.
I tabled quite a comprehensive series of Brexit Written Questions to the Mayor, whose answers are here.
I have also been appointed as the London Assembly delegate to the Congress of Europe (a Council of Europe, not an EU organisation) which brings together regional government across Europe as a whole. I will report on the first meeting I attend in next month’s update.
2 Economy Committee
Sadiq Khan has re-formed the London Finance Commission with LSE’s Professor Tony Travers again as Chair. The object is to improve the tax and public spending arrangements for London in order to promote jobs, growth and greater equality, which will need greater devolution. This will build on the Commission’s previous work and recommendations in light of the changed circumstances, following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.
To assist the Commission with its work, the GLA has issued a call for written evidence. The deadline for submission of written evidence is 21 October 2016. Please email email@example.com if you wish to input your ideas.
The Assembly Economy Committee is investigating diversity in apprenticeships in London and how the Mayor can help increase participation in good quality and higher level apprenticeships. To help inform this work, we have developed a short survey to gather the views of apprentices past and present, better to understand their experiences of the apprenticeship system, and determine how it can be improved in the future. The link to the survey, which will remain open until the beginning of November is here.
There are a couple of important local issues to report on first. The proposal from TfL to end the current 13 bus route is disingenuous.
I have been campaigning against the removal of the route, working with local residents and the local Labour Party.
The Cycle Superhighway 11 ( CS11) scheme is an important issue with strong views held on all sides. While I back CS11 in principle, I have raised a series of issues with TfL including displacement of traffic, the impact on bus services, the closure of the gates to the park, and the impact of HS2. At Mayor’s Question time I challenged the Mayor over these and the need for further consultation.
Turning to HS2, I am pleased that Sadiq Khan came to the area for a tour round the affected parts of Euston and to meet local residents. I followed the visit up with questions to the Mayor.
From Friday 7 October, night tube services will run on Friday and Saturday nights on the full length of the Jubilee line from Stanmore to Stratford. The launch date for the Northern Line and Piccadilly Line night tube services has not yet been confirmed, but is expected to be 18th November. I have been raising issues on behalf of tube line resident ‘neighbours’ who may be adversely affected, especially noise.
TfL have reviewed all the consultation responses on proposed changes to the King’s Cross gyratory. The plans, developed by TfL and Islington and Camden councils, include new road layouts and better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists, were supported by 70 per cent of respondents. TfL will now continue, to develop the scheme design, with a view to consulting on detailed proposals for the wider Kings Cross and Euston Road area in 2017. The consultation report is available online here.
TfL are beginning redevelopment works to provide a new building for West Hampstead London Overground station. The new building will have a wider footbridge with lifts to both platforms, providing step-free access throughout the station. The new station will also be larger than the existing building and accommodate the anticipated growth in passenger demand.
TfL are planning improvements for pedestrians and cyclists along the A406 North Circular from Bridge Lane to Golders Green Road and at the A406 junction with Golders Green Road and Brent Street. The proposals included a new shared pedestrian/cyclist ‘toucan’ crossing and new and upgraded sections of shared use footway. Implementation is expected to begin in August 2017.
Quite a few people have written to me about the growing scandal of the Garden Bridge. I am pleased the Mayor has appointed Margaret Hodge MP (formerly chair of the Public Accounts Committee) to investigate what has gone on.
TfL have published their response to the consultation on the detailed proposals for the North-South Cycle Superhighway (CS6) between Stonecutter Street and King’s Cross. They have incorporated several changes to the original proposals in the response.. A detailed design will now be developed and, subject to approval from Camden Council and Islington Council, construction will begin in spring 2017. Please click here to see details of the changes.
I have been campaigning over the need for an Oyster Card Top-Up Machine at Brent Cross, which TfL have dragged their feet over:
Finally, a full list of my Mayor’s questions and answers on transport
The most important news is that the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan Howe, has announced his retirement with effect from early next year. The appointment of his successor is in the gift of the Home Secretary, with ‘due regard’ to the Mayor’s views.
During the summer break I met with the Borough Commanders in both Camden and Barnet.
The most important issue to come out of Camden was that it looks almost certain now that Camden will be a pilot for the proposed borough BCU police mergers, with Islington. There is still a lot of detail to be worked out. There will not however, be a public consultation on the merger plan.
In Barnet, we have a new Borough Commander, Det. Ch. Supt. Simon Rose. The most important news here is that the extra constable for each of the ward safer neighbourhood teams promised by the mayor is in place already.
As is confirmed by answers to my Mayor’s questions (link below), the extra firearms officers are being taken from within the Met.’s current strength by redeploying existing officers, there will not be additional numbers of officers.
Both boroughs also have a high proportion of less experienced officers.
Our first Police and Crime Committee meeting after the Summer break was on the subject of violence against women and girls: Transcript of September Police Committee is available here.
The Police and Crime Committee report – ‘Serious Youth Violence assesses the reasons behind the rise in youth violence in the capital and examines other emerging trends involving young people as both victims and perpetrators of violent crime.
- The number of victims of serious youth violence has risen in the capital by over 20 per cent since 2012-13.
- Half of all reports of youth violence in London involve a knife.
The report found that a dominant driver for the increase, particularly of knife crime, is the belief among young people that they need to be prepared to defend themselves. This is driven by a misconception of the volume of weapons on the streets, as well as fear fuelled by incidents that occur in their communities.
The report recommends that if a serious incident occurs, there needs to be a concerted effort by the police and other agencies to reassure young people that they are safe and to tackle the immediate sense of danger. This may be through intelligence led stop and search, more visible patrols, or by agencies working with local youth clubs and schools.
Other findings of the report include:
- Serious youth violence is not solely a gang issue. Data provided to the Committee shows that gangs are involved in a relatively small amount of serious youth violence: just under five per cent in 2015-16.
- Almost a quarter of all victims of serious youth violence in the capital—around 1,500—are young women.
- Under-reporting among young people is a problem and greater awareness of the different ways young people can report anonymously is needed.
Double gunshot murder in East Finchley: police were called by London Ambulance Service at approximately 06:25hrs on Thursday, 15 September, to reports of two people injured at an address in Elmshurst Crescent, N2. Officers attended and found a 21-year-old man and a 53-year-old woman suffering from gunshot injuries. Both were pronounced dead at the scene. An arrest has since been made. Anyone with information is asked to contact the incident room on 020 8358 0300, or to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
The London Safer Neighbourhood Board (SNB) meeting due to take place on 11th October has been delayed after I intervened with Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, and pointed out that the date of the meeting clashed with Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. I am pleased that Deputy Mayor Linden agreed to my request to move the date. Given the rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes over the last few years and the subsequent fears held by members of the Jewish community about safety, it is important that there are Jewish voices feeding in to the work of the Police. A new date is yet to be set for the meeting, though it is likely to take place in October.
Finally, the latest answers (and non-answers) from my policing questions at September Mayor’s Question Time.
5 Planning, Housing and Regeneration
Jules Pipe, formerly executive elected Mayor for Hackney took up office as Deputy Mayor for Planning on 1st August.
City Hall plans to scrap the much abused and misused developers’ viability assessments for affordable housing contributions by introducing a non-negotiable 35% flat rate for private sector schemes. This move would represent a shift away from how affordable housing levels are currently set through section 106 agreements, whereby developers attempt to reduce the amount of affordable housing by submitting financial viability assessments showing that contributions are commercially unviable. The set tariff will be brought forward by the Mayor as part of draft affordable housing planning guidance due to be published for consultation in the autumn. The Mayor will maintain his long-term 50% affordable housing target, aiming to make up the shortfall with a greater proportion of affordable housing on public sector-driven schemes. The tariff would rise to 50% in the long term. The guidelines are being pushed forward ahead of the new London Plan in a bid to deliver certainty to the industry following the Brexit vote.
The Mayor has launched an inquiry into foreign property ownership, which will focus on the scale and impact of different types of overseas investment in London. It will examine how foreign cash has changed the housing market – from exclusive high-cost accommodation to middle- and low-cost homes – in different parts of London, and explore how other international cities are tackling the problem. The impact of Brexit and the falling value of the pound which makes London property very attractive to overseas buyers has added urgency to this investigation.
I have submitted objections to the following planning applications in the constituency:
North London Business Park, Brunswick Park
National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill
One of this period’s highlights was meeting Sir David Attenborough , at the Conservation Volunteers’ presentation and tree planting in honour of his 90th birthday, in Waterlow Park , Highgate
While there, I also took the opportunity to visit the restoration works underway at Lauderdale House, which are very impressive.
The Fire Authority Appointments Committee (of which I am a member) has appointed Dany Cotton, who is currently Director of Safety and Assurance, as our New interim Fire Commissioner from 1 January 2017. She will succeed Commissioner Ron Dobson, who retires at the end of the year. Dany will be London’s first woman Chief Fire Officer and the first in the UK of any major fire brigade. I am pleased that we have appointed such an experienced and well respected fire and rescue officer from a strong field of candidates, and who can take on the challenge of protecting Londoners, maintaining the exceptionally high standards of service Ron Dobson has built up during his nine years as London Fire Commissioner.
The Mayor has appointed Anthony Mayer a former Chief Executive of the Greater London Authority, to carry out a full and independent review of the London Fire Brigade to ensure it has sufficient resources to keep Londoners safe. It is expected his review will report in mid-October. I have met Mr Mayer and given him my views. This review will be considered alongside the Mayor’s terror preparedness review being led by Lord Harris.
These reviews will feed in to the preparation of the next London Safety Plan, LSP6, which should be published for consultation towards the end of the year, with implementation from April 2017. I am part of the members’ working party developing this plan. I am particularly concerned that we need to improve the attendance times of Fire and Rescue Units after I revealed shocking Fire And Rescue Unit Attendance Figures For Camden
I also think we need clear targets for attendance at high rise building incidents.
8 Mayor’s report
The Mayor produces a report of his activities and announcements for presentation at each Mayor’s Question Time, which you can see here.
9 Written questions to the Mayor
MQT answers for September are here.
If you have suggestions for questions that you would like me to ask the Mayor, please email me.
10 Problem solving and casework
Arjun Mittra has been reappointed as my City Hall assistant who manages incoming correspondence, casework and my diary: Arjun.Mittra@london.gov.uk
11 Finally, the quiz question answer:
Q:. The Great Fire of London began in Pudding Lane, marked by the nearby Monument: but where is the monument to mark the spot where the fire stopped?
A: The monument that marks the spot where the fire stopped: the Golden Boy of Pye Corner in Smithfield. According to the inscription, it was evidence of God’s wrath on the City of London for the sin of gluttony that the fire started at Pudding Lane and stopped at Pye Corner.
Andrew Dismore AM Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden
or my website here http://www.andrewdismore.org.uk/home/