My report from City Hall No. 56: 1st February to 23rd March 2019

My report from City Hall

No. 56:  1st February to 23rd March 2019



My report this month is overshadowed by the appalling far right terror attack in New Zealand, resulting in 50 innocent deaths. We expressed our solidarity with New Zealanders with a minute’s silence at our MQT Assembly meeting. I am pleased that the Mayor, police and community leaders have responded so effectively too, including security reassurance to our Muslim and other faith communities.  

Much of this reporting period was taken up by the detailed scrutiny and debate on the Mayor’s GLA budget, which the Assembly has now approved. the Budget consists of allocations for the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (Metropolitan Police), Transport for London, the London Fire Commissioner (London Fire Brigade), the London Legacy Development Company (Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park), the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, the core Greater London Authority requirements and the London Assembly. The 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. The Mayor’s council tax proposals needed to fund the budget include an overall 8.9 per cent increase to his total precept: all of the additional income raised will go towards policing and the London Fire Brigade. For the detailed budget click here

During this time, I also attended the Chinese New Year celebrations in Trafalgar Square, Barnet CAB’s AGM, one of Finchley Reform Synagogue’s school sessions on Holocaust Memorial Day; and I also attended the Congress of Europe’s Monitoring Committee short session in Belgrade, where I spoke on the priorities for human rights in the Congress’ future work.

This month’s London quiz: 

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?

Answer at the end!

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 you would expect with the chaos surrounding Brexit this month, it has also featured high in my work at City Hall and more widely.

I have signed the Parliamentary petition calling for Article 50 to be revoked and I attended the huge protest demonstration on 23rd March.

I raised the continuing uncertainty a week out from the original leave date at MQT, also highlighting the problems of falling back on WTO rules in the absence of an agreement. and the problems that would be caused for London’s workers by the deregulating Brexiteers in the Conservatives and UKIP.

I previously questioned the Mayor over the impact of Brexit On GLA projects’ borrowing.

The Met.’s DAC Richard Martin, the officer in charge of national police preparations for Brexit, has warned criminals will attempt to exploit weakened security and policing arrangements in the event of a No-Deal Brexit.

More locally, I see that Barnet Council has finally admitted the high risks of Brexit.

I also met the Vice Chancellor of Middlesex University, to discuss, among other topics, the impact of Brexit on their students and staff and on their operations, for example over the ending of UK access to the EU’s Erasmus programme.

You may be interested in this article on Brexit and whether opinions have changed, by Professor John Curtice.

Finally, some MQT written answers on Brexit, Feb 19


2  Economy Committee


Apart from Brexit (above), work this month focussed on disability issues  and  tackling the disability employment gap: the draft transcript of the Economy Committee meeting is available here.

See also my comments on Disabled Access Day.

I have also made representations about Glengall Road Post Office, Edgware, being under threat.


3 Transport and HS2


I have kept up the pressure about finding a solution to the continuing problems of excessive tube noise. I organised a meeting with TfL for residents of Fitzroy Square; and with the Deputy Mayor for Transport with representatives of residents from a number of locations affected.

Of course, tube passengers can also be affected by excess noise in the carriages at some locations: I have produced a detailed note of how the issue affects residents and passengers alike.

See also MQT tube noise answers, Feb 19.

I am pleased to say that TfL took note of my and many residents’ representations over their proposals to change the 384 Bus route. Congratulations to the residents and local Labour Councillors for their campaign.

Transport for London (TfL) has started its search for fresh new talent with more than 130 apprenticeship opportunities on offer in a range of areas, including engineering, quantity surveying and project management and is introducing two new apprenticeship schemes this year – one in building services and one in vehicle maintenance. TfL also offer the chance to study for a degree as part of an apprenticeship – meaning it is not necessary to choose between gaining industry experience or a university education. Anyone interested in applying for an apprenticeship at TfL should visit
In the past, I have commented on the folly of the previous Mayor’s Garden Bridge scheme. We now know the total loss to the public purse of the abandoned scheme was £53m.

Details of the Mayor’s new proposed £25m car scrappage fund to help low-income Londoners scrap older cars will be launched later this year. It comes on top of the Mayor’s existing plans for a £23m fund to help micro-businesses scrap vans that do not comply with the new Ultra Low Emission Zone standards, but which are driven into the ULEZ central London zone regularly.  Taken together, they provide £48 million worth of scrappage to help those who face serious financial pressure in upgrading to greener options.  Microbusinesses and charities can choose from a range of ‘scrap for cash’ options and apply for the scheme online at

Toxic air leads to around 40,000 premature deaths every year, and increases the risk of asthma, cancer and dementia – as well as costing the economy more than £20 billion annually. In London, more than 400 schools are in areas with illegally high pollution limits, where the bad air is damaging lung development in some children.  With road transport responsible for around half of air pollutants, the Central London ULEZ – which will begin operating on 8th April – aims to reduce toxic emissions in central London by around 45 per cent by 2020, together with measures to clean up taxis and buses.

4 Policing

In his Budget for 2019/20, the Mayor has confirmed that he is increasing his share of council tax by an average of 50p a week from April. This is the maximum allowed by the Government and most of the proceeds will directly fund the Metropolitan Police. £84.8m will be split between a number of crime fighting measures, including new officers, specialist investigators to disrupt gang violence and new state-of-the-art equipment. £3.5m is to be spent on other anti-violence initiatives and £6.8m from council tax and business rates will fund the Mayor’s new Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) as part of his ‘public health’ approach to tackling all forms of violence in the capital.

The Budget also includes an additional £119 million from London’s business rates to support policing numbers in future years. This will help to protect existing officer numbers from proposed technical future Government changes to the business rates system.

The Mayor’s Victims’ Commissioner Claire Waxman, has published her report and recommendations on compliance with the Victims’ Code of Practice in London.

The Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee meeting was used principally to hold a discussion on Safer Neighbourhood Boards and Ward Panels: transcript here.

I attended SNB meetings in both Barnet and Camden, including Barnet’s public meeting considering the rationale and impact of the borough mergers.

In March, we had a site visit to Lewisham, for a briefing on the work of the Mounted Branch, one of whose stables are there. The briefing set out the sort of work they do, and relevant costings, which together show the branch is value for money.

On a more worrying note, the Community Security Trust has recorded a rise in anti-Semitic incidents last year. Previous rises in anti-Semitic hate crime, particularly in 2009 and 2014, came after Israel was involved in a major conflict, but the level is now consistently high. It is the third year in a row in which anti-Semitic hate crime has reached a record level, with 1,652 incidents last year, a 16 per cent increase on the 1,420 incidents in 2017. In 2016 a total of 1,375 incidents were recorded. I attended the CST annual fundraising dinner.

I also commented on the decision that Hezbollah is to be proscribed.

On a more positive note, Scotland Yard is seizing record sums from London’s criminal “Mr Bigs” using new powers to freeze bank accounts containing suspected illicit cash. Figures show that the Met has seized £83 million from suspected criminals in the 11 months to the end of 2018 — a 50 per cent rise on the previous year.

Finally, March 2019’s policing Mayor’s written answers.

5 Planning, Housing and Regeneration

It is astounding to know that Barnet Council spends over £1 Million a year renting back ‘Right to Buy’ homes.

‘Social’ landlord Finchley Charities has dramatically hiked its charges to its tenants, in my view very unfairly, which I have raised with them.

I met the developers of the Pentavia site in Mill Hill, to discuss their revised proposals, which will be going before the Mayor in May. I remain concerned at the extent of overdevelopment on this key site.

I have objected to the planning application for Sweet Tree Fields, again Mill Hill: the problem is also compounded by the manifest failure of Barnet Council to enforce planning law and decisions.

6 Environment

I was pleased to see that Holborn has won funding from the Mayor for public space improvements.

However, on a more pessimistic note,  Brent Terrace Cricklewood could face a  “20-Year Nightmare” if Barnet Council continues to fail to listen to residents.

7 Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning

Grenfell continues to be major subject as you would expect. I published an article on Grenfell and the firefighters who were there, rebutting the Channel 4 TV programme.

I attended the monthly Grenfell silent walk on 14th February: these are held every 14th of the month, and I go whenever my other Assembly duties permit.

I met with Assistant Fire Commissioner Dan Daly, to get a detailed briefing on fire safety across the capital post Grenfell, for example looking at the extent of cladding and the process of remediation, which will inform my future work on the Fire Committee.

I was pleased to see the Mayor has adopted my Budget proposal for 2019/20, to establish Fire Cadet branches in every borough, so both Barnet and Camden will be getting one soon.

The  Assembly’s Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning Committee meeting was used principally to hold a question and answer session with the Deputy Mayor for Fire and Resilience and the London Fire Commissioner: the draft transcript is here.

I attended the London Fire Brigade 30 years’ long service award ceremony, at which the Fire Commissioner, Dany Cotton, also received her 30 years’ service award.

Finally, MQT written answers for March 2019

and February 2019.

8 Education

I signed the petition “List College Farm, Finchley, London on the Community Asset Register” the farm does invaluable work and needs support.

9 Health

I have opposed and made representations about the proposed move of Ravenscroft Medical Practice to Finchley Memorial Hospital.

10 Mayor’s report

Each month the Mayor produces a report on his activities: you can access his 29th and 30th reports here.


11 Written questions to the Mayor

MQT late answers for November 18 to Jan 19.

MQT answers Feb 19.

MQT late answers Feb 19.


12 Problem solving and casework

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

13 Quiz 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


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