My report from City Hall, December 2016
No.38: 5th November 2016 to 6th December 2016
May I firstly wish everyone a Happy Christmas?
My card design this year was by Sanah Sahnoun, aged 9, of Coppetts Wood Primary School, who wins the traditional book token.
Also a Happy Chanukah to my Jewish readers!
I attended a number of Remembrance Day events including at City Hall, and as president of the Edgware British Legion, Edgware’s and also the AJEX service. I also did my usual shift selling poppies in the Broadwalk.
I am also supporting the Royal British Legion ‘Count Them In’ campaign, to have veterans recorded in the next census.
I participated in Mitzvah Day at Barnet United Synagogue.
On a less happy note, Barnet Council is removing my right to submit items for discussion at residents’ forums in an effort to “gag” me. Their plan is clearly targeted against me personally, as I am the only elected representative who has tabled questions at the forums, and I do not have the same rights as Councillors to submit member’s items at Council Committee meetings.
Finally, we should also spare a thought for the families and victims of the appalling tram crash in Croydon. The full details of what the causes were will become known in due course but this was a real tragedy.
This month’s London quiz question: (answer at the end):
Q: A memorial black marble stone set into the floor of Westminster Abbey, has the last line inscribed on it “A talent to amuse”. To whom is the memorial dedicated?
8 Mayor’s report
9 Written questions to the Mayor
10 Problem solving and casework
11 Quiz answer
1 Europe and ‘Brexit’
The Assembly is continuing to scrutinise the implications of Brexit. Please see our work programme.
The big news (though it seems some time ago) was the High Court decision, to give Parliament a vote over the triggering of Article 50 and the Brexit Process.
The Chancellor’s Autumn statement also gave cause for concern for the economy, due to Brexit.
Three reports have been published on the issue of migration: by the City of London (I hosted an event at City Hall, to launch the City’s report); the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and the Centre for Economics and Business Research.
I also raised the ‘London Visa’ issue at Mayor’s Question Time.
At the Economy Committee, I raised the impact of Brexit on the London labour market and employment rights.
The Economy Committee has also published a report on Brexit and financial services.
See also these briefings:
Brexit and the London labour market.
Tourism and Brexit.
Life Sciences and science funding and Brexit.
Financial services and Brexit
Security and resilience implications of Brexit
2 Economy Committee
Most of this month’s Economy Committee work has been on Brexit and is covered above. However, there was a Plenary session with London and Partners, (responsible for inward investment, trade and tourism) and in addition to Brexit issues I raised a number of other economy related written questions.
3 Transport and HS2
TfL is now running a night service at weekends on bus route 307 between Brimsdown station and Barnet Hospital, every 30 minutes throughout Friday and Saturday nights. It will connect with the Night Tube at High Barnet tube station.to complement the new Night Tube service on the Northern line. It will also connect at Oakwood tube station with the new Night Tube service on the Piccadilly line, when this launches on Friday 16 December. The Northern Line night tube seems to have begun with little sign of problems so far.
The Mayor wants to make Oxford Street more pedestrian friendly so TfL are consulting on proposals for changes to twenty three bus routes in central London, designed to start reducing the number of buses running along Oxford Street. The proposals in this consultation would reduce the number of buses going along Oxford Street by around 40 per cent. The consultation sets out their proposed changes to routes 3, 6, 8, 15, 22, 25, 23, 46, 73, 137, 172, 242, 332, 390, 425, 452, C2, N2, N3, N8, N15, N22 and N73. The consultation ends on 29 January 2017. It is available here. If you submit comments, please copy me in.
After its recent consultation, TfL intends to remove bus stops D and E at the Archway Gyratory. These stops together are an important interchange for passengers travelling in from Central London to outer London and to separate them will lead to more buses being missed and more pedestrian movement. The scheme was opposed by 75% of consultation respondents, so I will be raising this at MQT.
Camden Council is leading on the production of a Planning Brief for the Euston Station and railway tracks area in partnership with the Greater London Authority and Transport for London. They plan to consult residents, businesses and other stakeholders on initial proposals for the Euston Station Area Planning Brief in spring 2017. A formal consultation will follow in early 2018. See also Euston Area Planning Brief And Government Correspondence.
I also met with City Hall planners. to discucss HS2 issues and the Mayor’s perspective.
Finally, a full list of my Mayor’s MQT Transport Questions and answers.
Building on last month’s informal consultation, the most important development this month was the publication for consultation of the Mayor’s draft Police and Crime Plan. The consultation period ends on the 23 February 2017.
The Police & Crime Plan will determine, direct and communicate the Mayor’s policing and crime priorities for his period in office (from 2017-21).
Core elements include: a return to real neighbourhood policing; improved standards across policing and criminal justice; improving services for victims of crime; urgently addressing knife crime; protecting children and young people; tackling domestic violence and violence against women and girls; dealing with hate crime and radicalisation; pressing for devolution of the criminal justice system; and a police force that reflects London’s diversity.
You can say what you think about the draft Police and Crime Plan in a few ways:
- complete the brief 14 question survey
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- send your comments via post to:
Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime
The Queens Walk
London SE1 2AA
A final version of the Police and Crime Plan for London will be published by the end of March 2017.
It would also be helpful if you copied me in to any response as Assembly Member and member of the Police and Crime Committee at City Hall.
Borough mergers are being piloted in amongst other places, Camden and Islington. For the Met.’s explanation of what this is about, please click here. Each merged BCU will be led by an interim commander, a chief superintendent who will be supported by four superintendents. Each borough within the BCU will have a dedicated superintendent. Superintendents will have cross borough leadership for one of the core local policing functions: neighbourhoods, response, investigation and protecting vulnerable people.
People, buildings, technology and vehicles will all be shared across the boroughs within the BCU.
This change will not impact upon our commitment to increase Dedicated Ward Officers (DWOs) from one to two in each ward as announced earlier this year. In the test sites, the numbers of DWOs will be increased further as well as an increase in the number of officers dedicated to working with young people
This was the last Police and Crime Committee Q and A session with the Commissioner, before he retires next year. The Deputy Mayor for Policing was also in attendance. I particularly focussed again on Henriques; as well as questioning them about the Harris review into terrorism preparedness.
On a similar theme, the Met. has apologised for failing to protect children and pledged to reform itself after a scathing report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary said three-quarters of the 384 cases it examined were substandard in the way the Met. investigated children at risk of abuse. In more than 10% of the cases problems were so alarming there was ongoing risk to child safety.
In response, the Mayor has announced a detailed and wide-ranging action plan to address the failings, including a new independent group of child protection experts and academics to drive the oversight and change necessary to ensure that children in our city are not let down when they are most vulnerable. The group will include Alex Marshall, from the College of Policing, and a representative from the National Police Chief’s Council.
We had a short session on this at 1st December Police Committee, and will return to the subject in detail at our next full meeting.
Also at 1st December Committee, I raised the cost to the Met of policing football matches that is not refunded by the professional clubs, especially in the Premiership. I questioned Commander BJ Harrington (formerly police chief in Camden) and Baroness Karen Brady Deputy Chair of West Ham, amongst others, about this.
Altogether, if the Premier league clubs fully reimbursed the cost, we would be able to afford the equivalent of between 90 and 100 or so police officers across London – and that is without adding in the huge extra commitment by British Transport Police on the tube and at railway stations! The West Ham vs Chelsea game alone required almost 500 officers: the equivalent to almost the total strength of the police in Barnet. I also raised this issue with questions at MQT (see below). This is a campaign I will continue to run.
Our Police and Crime Committee report – ‘Violence Against Women and Girls’ – examines the detail behind the rise in reports, the support available to victims and the ways in which organisations are working together to prevent it.
- Reports of violence against women and girls (VAWG) have been increasing in London for the last four years.
- Reported rapes and other sexual offences have increased by 11 per cent year on year.
- Recorded domestic offences have increased by 57 per cent compared to four years ago.
It highlights that increased reporting of violence against women and girls has not translated into action against perpetrators and it explores the reasons behind this trend.
The extra pressure on police and support services has resulted in the gap widening between the number of reports of violence against women and girls being received and the number of individuals being charged or receiving another sanction. This could lead to a loss of confidence in reporting.
We suggest the Mayor can play a significant role in making London a safer city for women and girls. Having made a public commitment to tackle VAWG, the Mayor should use his influence over the Met’s budget to make policing and support services better meet demand.
The Mayor of London has recently announced an investment of more than £4 million to help tackle sexual abuse in London. Sadiq Khan said his new Police and Crime Plan, to be published shortly, would put victims and their needs ‘at the heart’ of his strategy.
Each year around 24,000 adults in London experience serious sexual assault or rape. Whilst reporting has increased, support for survivors through the criminal justice process is patchy across the city. The Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) is working with NHS England to develop a new model for sexual abuse services in London, in partnership with existing providers. The Mayor has extended funding for three London Sexual Assault Referral Centres (Havens) and four London Rape Crisis Centres for an additional year until March 2018, when anew integrated service model will be in place.
I attended meetings of Barnet’s and of Camden’s Safer Neighbourhood Boards.
As usual, I had a range of policing questions at Mayor’s Question Time, as set out below. (If there any issues you would like me to raise at future MQTs, please let me know). You will see that one of my focuses this time was on the cost to the Met of policing football matches (see above).
5 Planning, Housing and Regeneration
We now have the Mayor’s Housing Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) and Funding Guidance changes, after he achieved a record settlement for affordable housing in London from the Government: £3.15bn until 2021.
London Affordable Rent is to be genuinely affordable –around 44% market rent, tied to capped social rents provided by Registered Social Landlords and due to be cut by 1% in line with Council rents. London Living Rent will be an intermediate rent level linked to local average income and not market rent for the first time – increasing security and the chance of home ownership for the ‘just about managing’.
There will be changes to the discredited ‘viability’ process which many developers have used to frustrate affordable housing:
- Increased public transparency
- Offer a ‘streamlined planning process’ – rewarding developers who can offer high affordable housing with lower costs and dampening complaints ‘planning is the problem’.
- Provide the first ever mechanism against landbanking – land value uplift will be captured and recycled to pay for more affordable housing units should developers delay.
Before the publication of the SPG, Sadiq Khan has achieved 37% affordable housing on average across the applications he has decided compared to the last year of Boris Johnson’s administration, when the average was 13%.
Such change is urgent and important, because, for example, housing costs leave a quarter of Barnet and Camden children living In poverty.
Last month, I reported on the campaign to raise the impact of the misuse of Airbnb on residential areas. Airbnb have now agreed to have a 90 day limit on short term lettings, though how effective this will be remains to be seen.
I have also continued to pursue issues relating to the Olympic Stadium, and last month I reported on the very poor deal negotiated by the former Mayor with West Ham which will cost the taxpayer £51 million more than originally admitted.
We followed this up with a Regeneration Committee site visit to the Olympic Park, to meet with the management of the London Legacy Development Corporation and some of their tenants and partners.
At Mayor’s Question Time I again raised the loss of office space in Barnet due to the Government’s ‘permitted development’ rules:
Following my report last time about the Pentavia site in Mill Hill, I have now submitted formal objections.
I have also objected to the Reviva Composting application In Hertsmere. See also Reviva Composting expansion scheme kicks up a stink.
I am concerned about the impact of the scheme to move Hasmonean Boys’ School to Copthall. I am working on a submission to Barnet Council about it.
Finally, the disappointing news, that the Planning Inspector overruled Camden and local residents’ objections (which I supported) to the proposed underground hotel In Bloomsbury.
As the weather gets colder and everyone is putting the heating on, I thought you might be interested in the UKPN Priority Service Register, and drawing it to the attention of any people you know who may not be aware of it
UK Power Networks delivers the electricity to homes and businesses .They have reduced the frequency of power cuts by 42%, however when they do occur they can be very worrying, especially to older people, people with chronic medical conditions or parents of very young children. So they have a ‘Priority Services Register’ to enable them to identify vulnerable people quickly in the event of a power cut and get them the help they need. You can find more about the free Priority Service Register, including information about who is eligible to register.
7 Fire Authority
The Fire Authority is now consulting on the draft London Safety Plan 2017. This sets out the Fire Brigade’s future strategy for the next 4 years. Please submit your views, and copy me in to anything you send.
The draft London Safety Plan (LSP) includes proposals to expand the London Fire Brigade’s capacity to respond to a terrorist incident,including setting out intentions to boost the number of specialist firefighters trained to move in behind the police to fight fires and help treat casualties in a terrorist incident.
It also proposes an extensive evaluation of the role of Fire Rescue Units (FRUs) and the potential to give them attendance time targets, highlighting the importance of these specialist vehicles in responding to major incidents. All FRUs provide a core set of specialist equipment including difficult access, heavy cutting and extended duration breathing apparatus. The heavy cutting capability is particularly important in road traffic collisions, at which the Brigade’s attendance has increased by 15 per cent over the last five years.
We are also asking whether capability to respond to flooding should be expanded.
We also propose to improve diversity and community relations within the Brigade, opening the ‘big red doors’ of the fire stations, allowing the community to engage more with firefighters and freeing up facilities for community use. As well as placing stations at the heart of the community, we want to make sure our staff experience an inclusive culture in the workplace.
I was pleased to attend the opening of the newly rebuilt and modernised Dockhead Fire Station in Southwark. This was also an opportunity to mark the 30th anniversary of the ITV show ‘London’s Burning’ which was filmed there. Many of the actors and crew for this long running and popular series were in attendance.
I also attended the open day at West Hampstead Fire Station, which was great fun, given the number of old fire engines they had been able to get there to entertain the public.
Finally, some Barnet residents may remember Tom George as our fire brigade borough commander a few years ago. I am pleased to report we have just promoted him to the post of Director of Operations and so the second most senior uniformed officer in the Brigade.
8 Mayor’s report
The Mayor’s 7th report for the period 3 November to 30 November is here.
9 Written questions to the Mayor
MQT answers to my questions
10 Problem solving and casework
Arjun Mittra is my City Hall assistant who manages incoming correspondence, casework and my diary: Arjun.Mittra@london.gov.uk
11 Finally, the quiz question answer:
Q:. . A memorial black marble stone set into the floor of Westminster Abbey, has the last line inscribed on it “A talent to amuse”. To whom is the memorial dedicated?
A: Sir Noel Coward
Andrew Dismore AM
Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden