My report from City Hall No. 55: 1st December 2018 to 31st January 2019


Firstly, on a personal l note: I have announced that I will not be seeking re-election at the next London Assembly elections in 2020, as I shall be retiring from front line politics after almost 40 years. I will of course continue to serve the constituency until then, so I will be around for a little while yet!

27th January was Holocaust Memorial Day. As one of the founders of HMD when I was MP for Hendon, to my mind the date has become ever more important, given the growing extent of holocaust denial and of anti Semitism and other forms of racism. I attended the ceremony the GLA held at City Hall; and the national event on 27th January at the QEII Conference Centre in Westminster.

We are well into the Mayor’s budget setting process for 2019/20: The draft budget covers the entire Greater London Authority group – including Transport for London, the London Legacy Development Corporation, Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade. I comment on various aspects of the budget below, but for the detail  you might find these of interest: The Mayor’s Proposed Budget  and  Guide to the budget process. The Mayor’s council tax proposals include an overall 9 per cent increase to his total precept, equating to an overall increase of £26.28 p.a. at Band D. All of the additional income raised as a result of this increase will go to the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade. The proposed total budget for the GLA group for 2018-19 is £18.3bn. This comprises a revenue budget of £12bn and a draft capital spending plan of £6.3bn.

This month’s London quiz: 

Q: London Bridge was the only bridge across the River Thames until which date: (a)1639, (b)1739, or (c)1839?

Contents: (please scroll down to the sections which interest you)

1 Europe and ‘Brexit’

2 Economy Committee

3 Transport and HS2

4 Policing

5 Planning, Housing, Regeneration

6 Environment

7 Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning

8 Education

9 Health

10 Mayor’s report

11 Written questions to the Mayor

12 Problem solving and casework

13 Quiz answers


1 Europe and ‘Brexit’


As the Brexit impasse in Parliament continues with no clear end in sight despite (at the time of writing) the rapidly approaching article 50 date, I have continued to question the Mayor over the impact of Brexit on London:

Dismore raises impact of Brexit on London’s economy

Dismore questions Mayor over impact of Brexit ‘Meaningful Vote’ on London

Dismore questions Mayor over Brexit delay

I also spoke in the Assembly Plenary debate on Brexit

My article for the Ham and High this month was also on Brexit and Article 50.

See also my  letter for publication: Brexit and the impact on the Knowledge Quarter

As you will be aware, the Mayor has spoken out about Brexit, and the need for an extension of Article 50 and a People’s Vote. You may also be interested in his comments on the Government’s immigration policy, with which I agree:

“The Government’s misguided approach to immigration risks doing profound damage to growth, jobs and communities across London and the UK. Immigration has enhanced our economy and communities, making London the best place in the world to do business and an unrivalled, vibrant global city. So it makes absolutely no sense for the Government to come forward with a one-size-fits-all policy for the whole country that simply won’t work for London and flies in the face of what London businesses and we at City Hall have repeatedly told Ministers we need. Slamming the door shut on thousands of European workers who want to come here to fill crucial roles, while making it tougher for businesses and the NHS to access the talent they need, will damage our competitiveness and ultimately mean less opportunity for all Londoners. If the Government chooses to move forward with a proposal to restrict tier 2 visas for skilled workers to jobs paying over £30,000 a year, it would see businesses struggle to fill thousands of key posts in crucial sectors, such as construction, social care, health, retail, hospitality and our world-leading creative industries.”

Finally, some Brexit written answers from the Mayor.

2  Economy Committee


Apart from the consequences of Brexit, other economy issues also arise.

This month’s Committee meeting concerned the disability pay gap

And on the subject of pay gaps, I questioned the Mayor over the excessive senior executive pay gap and ‘Fat Cat Friday’

I also raised the need for help for high street businesses.


3 Transport and HS2


As reflected in TfL’s Business Plan (see below), the Mayor’s draft budget takes into account the delay to the opening Crossrail and the need to find additional funding to complete the project. The GLA is to pay TfL up to £1.4 billion for Crossrail. TfL also have access to a further borrowing facility to cover any further costs and separately have to manage the revenue shortfall from the delay to Crossrail fares income of £600m over the next three years.

TfL’s draft Business Plan, which can be found here, covers the period from 2019/20 to 2023/24. The plan outlines how TfL intend to continue to invest significantly in making the capital a cleaner, safer and healthier place by continuing to modernise the transport network, making travelling easier and more accessible for all those who live, work and visit the city. This investment will continue despite an average £700m per year reduction in Government funding, the subdued economy and the financial impact from the delay to the Crossrail project. The Business Plan demonstrates how TfL plan to manage these risks, while continuing to protect vital transport investment through continued efficiency savings, which have exceeded more than £500 million in 2017/18. Locally, the impact means that the modernisation of Camden Town tube station is shelved; and Holborn, while still in the programme, is put back.

I met TfL, with ward councillors, to discuss TfL plans to upgrade Colindale tube station, part funded by developers. I am concerned about their scheme for considerable over station development of a tall tower block with two others nearby, though there is no doubt that the capacity of the station needs to be improved. No planning application has yet been submitted.

Tube noise remains a continuing cause of concern. I have convened two meetings with residents with TfL engineers to explore possible solutions,  one in  Finchley Central ……

…. and one in Fitzrovia. Neither produced very satisfactory outcomes for residents, whose lives are blighted by tube noise which has demonstrably got, and is getting, worse. I am due to meet the Deputy Mayor for Transport soon, to press the case for action.

The Mayor is pressing on with his Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London from   April 2019. Here is a detailed briefing.

The Mayor has also announced a new £23 million scheme to help smaller business owners scrap older, more polluting vans (which account for nearly 50 per cent of London’s toxic NOx air emissions). The scheme will initially help London’s micro-businesses – defined as those with fewer than 10 employees – to switch to the cleanest vehicles, including electric.

The Mayor and TfL have also produced a package of measures to tackle taxi emissions and support drivers switching to new zero emission capable taxis including an enhanced delicensing fund, providing up to £10,000 for drivers who trade in their older, dirtier vehicles early; a  £2.5 million fund to help drivers of newer Euro 5 taxis to convert to much cleaner LPG fuel; and a consultation on a phased reduction in maximum taxi age limits for the dirtiest vehicles from 15 years to 12 years by 2022. These moves will help ensure the reduction of taxi emissions by 65% in 2025.This work coincides with the delivery of 150 rapid-charge points and grants of £7,500 to help taxi drivers to switch to electric.

4 Policing

Police funding remains major issue. The Government’s funding settlement for the police was announced last December. 70 per cent of the Met’s funding is controlled by the Government and Ministers have repeatedly refused to reverse the cuts the Met have had to make. As a result, the Met have already had to make savings of £850m this is set to continue. The Met still has to make savings of £263 million by 2022-23. If these required savings were delivered through officer reductions, this is estimated to reduce the number of police officers to 28,215 – a fifteen year low. I have commented extensively on this: for a detailed critique of the figures and policy see my letters in the local press:





In total, the Mayor proposes to commit an additional £95m next year to policing and tackling crime. This money will be raised from council tax and business rates.

We have held three sessions of City Hall’s Police and Crime Committee since my last report. The December meeting was used principally to look at mental health and policing. The draft minutes and transcript meeting are here.

The first meeting in January was a question and answer session with the Deputy Mayor and Deputy Commissioner. The draft minutes and transcript meeting are here. I spoke about the possible training and  sending of 150  officers to Northern Ireland  as aid in the event of post Brexit disorder; the harassment of MPs by Brexit protesters; moped crime; the low sanctioned detection rates; and mental health support for officers exposed to traumatic situations.

The second January meeting was concerned with a review of stop and search: transcript not yet available.

At the end of our urgent investigation into violent crime in London, the Police and Crime Committee wrote to the Mayor asking for urgent steps to tackle the high levels of violence in the capital. We have welcomed the Mayor’s establishment of a Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), and the move toward a ‘public health approach’. Our recommendations, amongst others, include:

  • the VRU must tackle all forms of violence – whether it is committed with a gun, a knife, a broken bottle or a fist; and either by an adult or a young person. This includes tackling domestic violence.
  • prevention is key. The VRU should explicitly focus on tackling ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) – the term given to traumatic situations children live through—which increase the likelihood of poor outcomes by impacting on physical health, cognitive development and behaviour.
  • the VRU needs to focus on school exclusions at an early stage in its work programme.
  • the Mayor and the VRU should call on social media providers to take down all content that explicitly calls for the use of violence.

The Mayor is investing an additional £6.8 million in the Violence Reduction Unit, and has announced that it will be led by Lib Peck, currently London Councils Executive Member for Crime and Public Protection (leading London boroughs’ cross-party work to keep Londoners safe) and the Leader of Lambeth Council.

The Mayor and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner have also set out plans to spend £85 million of City Hall funding to tackle violent crime and burglary in the capital.

While officer numbers are still to be finalised, the Met.’s local Basic Command Units (BCU) will have access to additional officers to bear down on violence. Increased capacity in local BCUs will mean officers will have more focus on tackling the drugs market which fuels street violence.  As well as funding officers, these funds will pay for specialist investigators to disrupt gang violence, cutting-edge equipment for officers on the frontline, such as digital fingerprinting, rapid drug testing, technology to help with digital investigations, and advanced techniques to combat child sexual exploitation online

A further £3.4m will be spent on other anti-violence initiatives, for example making permanent the successful ‘Information Sharing to Tackle Violence’ pilot that develops more effective data sharing between Community Safety Partnerships, health services and other violence reduction partners.

More resources will also be invested in the police response to burglary, including Met Trace, the Met’s burglary prevention programme providing Londoners with crime prevention advice and property-marking kits. Local police will continue to focus on work to prevent burglary and target those responsible.

Finally, written answers to my questions on policing from the Mayor

5 Planning, Housing and Regeneration

The Mayor has announced £38 million in funding for community-led housing schemes …..

…. as the Mayor continues to tackle London’s housing crisis by supporting thousands of new homes for social rent as part of City Hall’s commitment to start at least 116,000 new genuinely affordable homes by 2022.

New research by my colleague Tom Copley AM has revealed that 42% of homes sold off under Right to Buy in London are now being rented out by private landlords at market rates – up from 36% in 2014. Barnet Council spends over £1 million per year renting back homes sold under the Right to Buy. Barnet Council’s evidence is that 44.3% of homes in the area bought through the Right to Buy scheme, are now privately rented out. You can read  the  full report “Right to Buy: Wrong for London” here.

My Planning objections for this report period:

Planning objection for phases 6 And 6b of Millbrook Park

Objection to NIMR amended plans

6 Environment


At the Assembly Plenary to approve the Mayor’s Culture Strategy, I raised the issue of heritage at risk.

I encouraged local organisations to bid for grants for water drinking fountains.

The Blue Plaque scheme has been running since 1866 and is overseen by English Heritage. Currently only 14% commemorate women. English Heritage says that part of the reason is the lack of nominations for women – only around a third of all nominations. City Hall is aiming to submit 100 nominations to aid them in addressing the disparity. Further information.

7 Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning

The Mayor’s proposed council tax precept includes £159m for the London Fire Brigade: 2.99 % of the Mayor’s council tax increase will go to London Fire Brigade, maintaining funding to the London Fire Brigade in the aftermath of the terrible Grenfell Tower fire.

During the Assembly question session on the Brigade’s budget, I raised the impact of Conservative cuts on the Fire Brigade.

We also held a full Plenary on the Fire Brigade at the end of last year, when I raised the implications post Grenfell for the Brigade.

See also my article on this.

Earlier in January, I observed an impressive major exercise involving our very highly skilled Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Teams, working with the police and their search dogs; and firefighters from other brigades.

USAR 2019

USAR 2019

Finally, written answers to my questions at the Fire Service plenary.

and Mayor’s Answers, to my questions on fire service related issues at MQT.

8 Education


I was pleased to see that Mayor Sadiq Khan has awarded a grant of over £200,000 towards developing the Grahame Park old library into a multi-use enterprise, skills and community hub.

I was invited to be a judge at the Barnet regional finals of the Jack Petchey speaking competition for school students, organised by the Speakers Trust, held at Copthall School, Mill Hill.

I was surprised to see that the Oxford Union had invited the Malaysian Prime Minister to speak, given his extreme views.

The Mayor has published two new strategies to improve access to culture and the opportunity to take part in sport and physical activity. The Mayor’s approach includes helping all young Londoners to experience the capital’s cultural riches and pursue creative careers, supporting and saving cultural venues, investing in the flourishing creative industries, and recognising the central role culture plays in the capital’s success.

In addition, 49 grassroots creative projects received micro-grants in the first six months of his Culture Seeds programme, from visual arts workshops for volunteers who helped in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, workshops examining gang culture for young people in Southwark, music performances in residential care homes in Redbridge, and to film screenings in Farsi for newly arrived Iranians and Farsi speakers in Barnet.

The Mayor’s sports strategy is designed to make London the undisputed sporting capital of the world. It will get more Londoners involved in supporting grassroots sport and for the first time ever highlight its importance in breaking down barriers and building stronger communities. This also includes a wide variety of physical activities that bring people entertainment, enjoyment and relaxation, such as dance, yoga and running.

9 Health

no report this time.

10 Mayor’s report

Each month the Mayor produces a report on his activities: you can access his  27th and 28th reports here.

11 Written questions to the Mayor

Jan 2019 late MQ answers

MQ Late Answers

Answers To Mqs Jan 19

MQT Late Answers Dec 18

December 18 Mqt Answers

12 Problem solving and casework

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

13 Quiz answer

Q: London Bridge was the only bridge across the River Thames until which date: (a)1639 (b)1739 or (c)1839?

A: (b)1739

Best wishes,

Andrew Dismore AM

Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden
Twitter: @andrew_dismore

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