My report from City Hall: January 2018
No. 48: 16th December 2017 to 30th January 2018
May I wish all my readers a belated Happy New Year?
Picking up from just before Christmas, I joined the ‘production line’ at Jesus House, packing Christmas hampers with Cllr Ammar Naqvi.
I also attended and spoke at the Bangladesh Independence Day event at the British Library
I attended a number of Holocaust Memorial Day events, including at City Hall, the national event at the QEII centre, and in both Camden and Barnet.
This month’s quiz: question: how many blue plaques are there in London?
answer at the end, also for last month’s special Christmas quiz!
Contents: (please scroll down to the sections which interest you)
1 Europe and ‘Brexit’
2 Economy Committee and Mayor’s draft budget
3 Transport and HS2
5 Planning, Housing, Regeneration
7 Fire Authority
10 Mayor’s report
11 Written questions to the Mayor
12 Problem solving and casework
13 Quiz answers
1 Europe and ‘Brexit’
The Mayor has commissioned an independent economic analysis report on the impact of Brexit on London.
The findings are an analysis of the potential impact of five different Brexit scenarios on London and the whole of the UK, commissioned from leading economic analysts Cambridge Econometrics.
In total, five scenarios were modelled by Cambridge Econometrics to illustrate the range of possible outcomes of the UK’s future relationship with the EU. These are:
- Scenario 1 – A ‘close to status quo’ scenario where the UK remains part of both of the single market and customs union
- Scenario 2 – A scenario where the UK remains part of the single market, but not the customs union.
- Scenario 3 – A scenario where the UK remains part of the customs union, but not the single market.
- Scenario 4 – A hard Brexit scenario in which trade between the UK and the EU falls under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules with a two-year transition period from March 2019; and
- Scenario 5 – The same hard Brexit scenario but without a two-year transition period.
Key findings from the report are:
- The London results are similar to the UK results in that the impact of Brexit is negative and gets progressively more negative (compared to what may have happened if the UK remained in the Single Market and Customs Union), moving from Scenario 2 to Scenario 5. However, London’s economy would suffer significantly less from Brexit than the rest of the UK.
- London’s professional and financial services would be the worst hit by a no-deal hard Brexit, with 29,000 fewer jobs by 2030 than if we remained in the Single Market and Customs Union. There would be 11,000 fewer jobs in science and technology, 5,000 fewer jobs in construction and 6,000 fewer jobs across London’s creative sector.
- Overall, London is not expected to be affected as much as the UK, in terms of GVA and productivity. On the other hand, the population (and so employment) impacts in London are noticeably stronger than in the UK. London has a larger proportion of non-UK workers, so border restrictions and a reduction in EU migration are expected to impact London the most.
See also Brexit: UK could lose half a million jobs with no deal, says Sadiq Khan.
At MQT I questioned the Mayor over post Brexit police and security arrangements, which I find deeply concerning.
Other interesting Brexit items:
- Net migration from EU to UK falls to lowest on record.
- Warnings of post-Brexit price rises unless UK can copy EU trade deals.
- Tony Blair on Brexit and what we now know.
- My Brexit comments In Ta Nea, Greek newspaper.
2 Economy Committee and Mayor’s draft budget
At our meeting this month we started our scrutiny of the Mayor’s draft Economic Strategy at meeting.
We also published our report on access to financial services for less well off Londoners.
I questioned the Mayor over the implications of the Carillion collapse.
I have commented on the proposed Post Office closure in North Finchley.
The Mayor, has announced proposals to increase his share of council tax from April 2018 by an average of 27p a week – the maximum amount allowed by the Government. All of the additional money raised will help fund the Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade. The proposal would see his share of council tax increase overall by 5.1 per cent or £14.20 a year in cash terms. These council tax proposals are contained in the Mayor’s draft budget, published for consultation. This budget sets out Sadiq’s plans to help ensure that all Londoners get the opportunities that the city gave to him.
The draft 2018/2019 budget will cover the entire Greater London Authority Group – including Transport for London, the London Legacy Development Corporation, the Metropolitan Police service and the London Fire Brigade. Its plans include:
- a freeze on all TfL fares during the Mayor’s first administration, while protecting concessions and extending the new Hopper bus fare.
- Continuing investment in skills, and supporting new and innovative businesses to invest in London.
- Further investment in London’s cultural and creative offering, and in particular the Cultural and Educational District (CED) in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
- Tackling London’s filthy air, amongst other measures, the Mayor has introduced in central London the Toxicity-Charge (T-Charge), will introduce the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in 2019 and is consulting on expanding the ULEZ up to the North and South circular roads in 2021.
- Measures to turn around London’s housing crisis from the dreadful situation Sadiq inherited from his predecessor. He is investing £3.15 billion to support 90,000 new genuinely affordable homes in the capital and ripping up old planning rules to get London building, while protecting the Green Belt.
- Record investment in modernising our transport infrastructure, with the new Elizabeth line scheduled to begin operating through central London by the end of 2018.
- Continuing to work with London’s businesses, investors and innovators to ensure London’s key sectors are protected and Londoners’ economic opportunities are maximised during the negotiations to leave the European Union.
- Building on the existing budget for the Mayor’s environment programme, which includes £10 million earmarked for energy efficiency activity and measures to tackle fuel poverty. Over the next three years, £750,000 is being allocated to help reduce plastic bottle waste and increase access to tap water.
3 Transport and HS2
I joined the protest outside Euston over the cutting down of the trees by HS2
The collapse of Carillion may have implications for HS2 as it was one of the 3 main contractors, but it is not yet clear how this will play out.
The Mayor has announced that Burnt Oak will be one of the next 13 tube stations to go step free. But unfortunately, the lift at Finchley Central seems to be out of action until May, which I have complained to TfL about.
There has been a misinformation campaign attacking the Mayor for allegedly ‘cutting’ the Taxicard Service. This is wrong. Sadiq has not proposed to cut the Taxicard service. In fact, he has given a categorical guarantee that he will continue to provide the same level of service for all who need it – in every part of London. Transport for London is currently in the process of recommissioning the Taxicard service with exactly that specification – and the Mayor has committed to funding whatever it takes to achieve this. The pledge to protect the Taxicard scheme – and all other concessions including the Freedom Pass – comes in the face of the Conservative Government cutting TfL’s operating grant from £700 million to zero, leaving London with the only self-financing transport system in the western world.
Transport for London (TfL) has started the search for around 180 new apprentices in a range of careers including engineering, cyber security, finance and many others. TfL will be hosting an Apprenticeship Recruitment Fair at City Hall on Wednesday 7 March. Anyone interested in applying for an apprenticeship at TfL should visit tfl.gov.uk/apprentices
I have been concerned about the reduction in some night buses, as a result of the introduction of the night tube.
The Gospel Oak to Barking Line has finally reopened as of Monday 15 January
following the installation of new overhead electric lines by Network Rail, that will enable new longer electric trains to run from spring 2018.
Escalator refurbishment is underway at Camden Town Tube station: these started on 9 January 2018 and works will take around 8 weeks to complete. While the work is carried out, there will be no entry to the station during the following times:
- On weekdays between 16:00 and 19:00 – the station will be exit and interchange only
- On Saturdays and Sundays between 13:00 and 17:30 – the station will be exit and interchange only
- During Night Tube – the station will be exit and interchange only between 00:30 and 04:30
- At all other times – access will be via the spiral staircase only (96 steps). There will be no ‘down’ escalator at the station at any time while the works are taking place.
From 29 January 2018 TfL extended the Northern Line’s weekday evening peak period service from one to two hours. The new timetable enables them to carry around 11,000 additional passengers during each weekday evening peak, benefiting up to 100,000 passengers each day through reduced congestion. I met with TfL to discuss the benefits for the Barnet and Camden commuters.
I have continued to support local residents affected by tube noise, especially on the Northern Line: it seems the cause of the increased noise is the new track they have been laying, including concrete rather than wooden sleepers, with no damping mechanism between the rail and the sleepers. A programme for retrofitting dampers is underway at affected areas, but it is taking for too long in my view.
The cost of a Penalty Charge Notice for failing to pay the Congestion Charge went up to £160 from 2 January 2018 (or £80 if paid within 14 days). The proposed rise in the cost of a PCN for contraventions of the Red Route network will follow later in 2018, subject to a separate review by the Secretary of State. TfL reinvests any money received from the PCNs back into London’s transport network for maintenance.
Finally, transport answers from the Mayor:
Late Transport answers Dec 17.
MQT answers Jan 18.
The most recent ONS figures show recorded crime has increased by nearly 15 per cent across England and Wales, and by nearly 5 per cent in London. Knife crime rose by 21 per cent nationwide. This is hardly surprising, given the huge cuts there have been in police budgets and numbers under this Government.
The Mayor has announced his council tax proposals for 2018/19 include an overall 5.1 per cent increase to his total precept. All of the proceeds will go to the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade. This will enable the Met to maintain 30,000 officers as well as devote more to knife crime- an extra £15m.
At the Assembly Budget plenary session, I raised the issue of police funding with the Mayor.
In addition to the £15m to combat knife crime, £20.1m will be allocated to cover the cost of a two per cent police pay increase in 2018/19. The remaining £13.9m will be made available to the Commissioner to invest in officer numbers and to step up the fight against crime this year and next.
The Mayor of London’s 2018-19 draft Council Tax requirement is £862m – this being the total sum forecast to be collected from Londoners to fund GLA services. Under the proposal the total GLA precept will be increased from £280.02 to £294.22 a year (Band D household) for residents of the 32 boroughs – an overall increase of £14.20. All of this increase will be provided to the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade.
This equates to a Policing Precept increase from £206.13 to £218.13 and a non-Policing Precept from £73.89 to £76.09 a year.
Of the non-Policing precept, 2.99 per cent of the increase will go to London Fire Brigade but effectively one per cent will go to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime by a reallocation of business rates from the Fire Brigade to MOPAC. This is necessary to avoid a Council Tax referendum.
December’s full Assembly Plenary just before Christmas, was a session with the Mayor and Cressida Dick, the Commissioner. I raised three issues in detail with her: Borough Mergers, Moped Crime and the urgent review of non disclosure –
At January’s Mayor’s Question Time, I questioned the Mayor over Met. Police investigation policy, and which cases would be screened out. This link also includes links to the criteria and flow chart the Met. is using.
Police and Crime Committee: our first January meeting was a q and a session with MOPAC, inquiring in detail into their work and procedures. The transcript can be found here. You can see I gave them rather a hard time, from pages 8, 15 and 20
We also visited HMP Downview, as part of our inquiry into women in custody, post the closure of Holloway. We spoke to the governor, prison officers and prisoners.
The Police and Crime Committee has published two reports this month:
‘Respecting others: tackling antisocial behaviour in London’ – examines the issue of antisocial behaviour.
The report recommends:
- The Met must evaluate the benefits of rolling out Antisocial Behaviour Warning Notices in all London boroughs.
- MOPAC should introduce a performance management framework that collates and reports on data from the Met, local authorities and housing providers.
- Victims of antisocial behaviour are seen as second rate to victims of crime. The Mayor must lobby the Government to extend the remit of the Victims Commissioner and the use of MOPAC commissioning powers, to include victims of antisocial behaviour and for funding that reflects the needs of victims of antisocial behaviour in London.
- The Community Remedy and Community Trigger were designed to empower victims of antisocial behaviour. MOPAC must increase awareness and promote the use of these powers.
The second report – ‘Gun crime in London- points out that the patterns and trends around gun use may be changing. The number of guns on London’s streets is unclear and the supply of guns into the UK from abroad is a growing concern. For ease, the report can be found here, and our letter to the Mayor here.
Main points from the report include:
- Gun crime offences have risen over the past three years but the proportion that is gang related—often thought of as associated with gun crime—may not be.
- Both offenders and victims of gun crime are getting younger.
- Guns are most often used in violence against the person and robbery offences.
The report also highlights that the supply of guns into the UK from abroad is a growing concern, particularly as the use of technology and ‘the dark web’ is changing the way people can access weapons. A small, but increasing number of weapons are originating from Eastern Europe, particularly de-commissioned guns, which are easily converted into a viable weapon, but there is still a lot of traffic from the U.S.
Finally, links to Mayor’s answers to my questions:
December 17 MQT Policing Questions
Plenary December 2017 – Written Answers From MOPAC
Late Policing Answers, December 17
Police MQs Jan 18
5 Planning, Housing and Regeneration
At this time of year, street homelessness is a big issue. In London last year over 8,000 people were seen sleeping rough, of which 132 had served in the UK armed forces. The Mayor is committed to helping all those who feel they have no choice other than to sleep rough, and has launched a new campaign ‘No one needs to sleep rough in London’. This campaign brings together for the first time 18 charities to form a coalition and a single donation point, and shows Londoners how they can let services know about rough sleepers they are concerned about. The Mayor is encouraging everyone who would like to support the campaign to visit their website here.
This winter, Sadiq has also changed City Hall policy to ensure that free emergency homeless shelters providing bedding, showers and food will now be open whenever temperatures in London fall below zero. Sadiq has also secured the agreement of all 33 local authorities in the capital that they will also open their shelter on every sub-zero day.
The Mayor has also teamed up with the charity Veterans Aid to support a key project offering a route off the street for every UK veteran who is homeless or facing homelessness in the capital.
Recent planning representations and objections I’ve submitted:
Further objection comments on Barnet House.
Objection To new Pentavia planning application.
Prospect Ring tower in East Finchley objection.
I have continued to work with local residents, to ensure the Donoghue waste depot In Cricklewood operates in accord with the rules and their licences. See: “Dismore demands Donoghue cease concrete crushing In Cricklewood”
The Mayor has also made grant awards to both Barnet and Camden for local green projects
£50K for Pymmes Brook waterway improvements.
Castlehaven Open Space will recieve £15k.
£20,000 For Edgware Green Space.
7 Fire Authority
The big issue has been the future funding of the London Fire Brigade which I raised at MQT.
Since then the Mayor has confirmed that his Council Tax increase will go to the police and fire brigade, which will give the LFB a balanced budget up to 2020; though beyond that, there will be a budget shortfall as things stand, due to Government underfunding.
I visited Euston Fire Station, to meet the new borough commander for Camden; and to discuss with the firefighters their views.
I also met with the LFB Director of Operations to follow up on all the comments and suggestions I have received from firefighters on my station visits over the last three months.
I chaired the LFEPA working party on our submission for the draft London Plan, which for the first time will include fire safety as a central feature.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, confirmed the three locations for his Early Years Hubs scheme, including in Barnet. Led by Barnet Early Years Alliance, four new hubs will be established in the east of Barnet.
The Mayor has also proposed a compact with employers, called the Good Work Standard – this will encourage employers across London to offer family friendly working practices like flexible working and fair pay.
I also visited The Totteridge Academy, a rapidly improving school to see how they are getting on and to discuss the impact of Barnet Council’s decision to give planning permission to the Ark Academy nearby.
I have of course been following with concern the winter pressures on our local hospitals, however this is not a responsibility of the GLA as we do not have the powers to intervene, our health responsibilities being limited to strategic public health issues only, which is rather frustrating.
One issue that I have become involved is the problems for Jewish and Muslim bereaved families, caused by the polices of the Senior Coroner For Inner North London. I fully support the campaign for a more flexible and sensible service.
I have also tabled a Mayor’s Question at City Hall, so that the Mayor is aware of the problem, the answer to which I should get in the next couple of weeks and a motion for the February Assembly plenary.
10 Mayor’s report
Each month the Mayor produces a report on his activities. His 18th Mayor’s Report to the Assembly is here.
11 Written questions to the Mayor
November MQT answers are here.
Additional November MQT Answers.
January 2018 MQT answers.
12 Problem solving and casework
Arjun Mittra is my City Hall assistant who manages incoming correspondence, casework and my diary: Arjun.Mittra@london.gov.uk
13 Quiz answer
Question: how many blue plaques are there in London?
Answer: 900 plaques. Now run by English Heritage, the London blue plaques scheme was started in 1866 and is thought to be the oldest of its kind in the world. Across the capital over 900 plaques, on buildings humble and grand, honour the notable men and women who have lived or worked in them.
Christmas Quiz answers: below at the end
Andrew Dismore AM
Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden
Reproduced from an email sent by the Labour Party, promoted by Ammar Naqvi on behalf of Barnet & Camden Labour Parties both at 104 E Barnet Rd, London, Barnet EN4 8RE
Christmas quiz answers
1Name four of Santa’s eight reindeer in traditional lore- apart from Rudolph who is a 20th-century inclusion.
Santa Claus’s sleigh is led by eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder (variously spelled Donder and Donner), and Blixem (variously spelled Blixen and Blitzen),
2 Of where was Good King Wenceslas king?
3 The Trafalgar Sq Christmas tree comes from Norway: what was the first year it came?
4 which celeb switched on this year’s Oxford St. Christmas lights?
5 The Journey Of The Magi: a poem by whom?
6 And what were the names of the Magi?
There is an Armenian tradition identifying the “Magi of Bethlehem” as Balthasar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia, and Gaspar of India.
7 What is Santa’s post code at the North Pole?
His postal code is H0H 0H0,” a mailing address assigned to Santa by Canada Post
8 What is the last posting day for second class, recommended by Royal Mail?
Weds 20th Dec
9 Last Christmas saw the UK consume how many turkeys, to nearest million?
10 million turkeys
10 in what year was Christmas abolished, a ban that lasted 16 years?
1644 ordinance confirmed the abolition of the feasts of Christmas, Easter and Whitsun. From this point until the Restoration in 1660 Christmas was officially illegal (not Cromwell btw)
11 What is The Official Top 20 biggest selling Christmas hit?
Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas, 1984
12 Kiritimati, Christmas Island, east or west of the International Date Line?
realignment of the International Date Line by the Republic of Kiribati moved Kiritimati to west of the dateline.
13 the name of the film in which David Bowie plays Major Jack Celliers?
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
14 Doc McStuffins Pet Vet Checkup Center : what did it win last year?
Toy of the Year 2016
15 Which King of England was crowned on Christmas Day?
William I in 1066.
16 What were first made in about 1845-1850 by a London sweet maker called Tom Smith?
17 what is ranked no 1 in the Time Out list of Christmas films?
18 In what century was Christmas Day first celebrated on 25th December?
AD 336: 4th century
19 And on what date do many Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas Day?
On or near January 7: This date works to the Julian calendar that pre-dates the Gregorian calendar
20 How many Christmas books did Dickens write?
Dickens’s five Christmas books: A Christmas Carol (1843) ; The Chimes (1844), The Cricket on the Hearth: A Fairy Tale of Home (1845); The Battle of Life (1846) and The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain (1848).
21 who was the first Holy Roman Emperor, crowned on Christmas Day, 800?
22 which male film star famous for playing the archetype of the hard-drinking private detective roles was born on Christmas Day 1899?
24 What is the gift on the 7th Day of Christmas?
seven swans a-swimming
25 In which country has a new, quirky “tradition” emerged: the Christmas Day Kentucky Fried Chicken feast?
26 which 1949 British film noir has a character called Holly Martins?
The Third Man
27 Who wrote a murder mystery set at Christmas in which the victim is Simeon Lee, first published in the UK on 19 December 1938?
Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot’s Christmas
28 What is the plant Viscum album better known as?
mistletoe: the name originally referred to the species Viscum album
29 in what year was the Christmas Truce in WW1?
30 Where is The Ashes Boxing Day Test match played?
It is played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
31 Christmas Pudding used to be called “plum pudding” by Victorians, even though the pudding contains no actual plums: why?
32 whose 1971 Christmas show featured Andre Previn, Glenda Jackson and Shirley Bassey?
Morecambe and Wise