My report from City Hall – No. 60: 12th October – 6th November 2019


This month’s report is for a shorter period than usual, as City Hall is caught by the ‘purdah’ rules when a General Election is called. All our political business and meetings cease until after the election, so rather than wait quite a while for a report on October, I thought it better to send a short one now.

This month’s London quiz: 

Q: Which famous London poet insisted on sitting in his garden with no clothes on; and where did he do it?

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

1 Europe, ‘Brexit’ and the economy

2Transport and HS2

3 Policing

4 Planning, Housing, Regeneration

5 Environment

6 Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning

7 Education

8 Health

9 Mayor’s report

10 Written questions to the Mayor

11 Problem solving and casework

12 Quiz answers

1 Europe, ‘Brexit’ and the Economy

Like hundreds and thousands of others from all over the country, I attended the People’s Vote protest over Brexit. I believe it is important that whatever eventually emerges, there should be a referendum on the outcome, with the option to remain.

At Mayor’s Question Time, I raised with the Mayor the implications for London of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

See also in the section below on Policing, my worrying exchanges with the Police Deputy Commissioner on policing and security post Brexit.

Apart from Brexit, on other economy issues, the Mayor has launched a £10m fund to support full fibre connectivity across London, enabling faster connectivity and making London 5G-ready. This will enable Tube tunnels and public buildings such as community centres and libraries .to provide a ‘fibre backbone’.  New fibre optic cabling will be laid along TfL tunnels upgrading large areas of London from copper cables to full fibre optics. The work being funded by Mayor will also reduce the cost to providers of laying cabling between the public buildings and Londoners’ homes and businesses. This will particularly benefit areas with little or no existing fibre, which had previously been deemed financially unviable and which suffered from poor connectivity as a result. This latest funding brings City Hall’s total investment in full fibre connectivity to more than £30 million, which will benefit more than 400,000 homes across the capital.

2 Transport and HS2

Returning to the perennial long standing problems of tube noise, a minor victory to report, in that TfL have at long last agreed to introduce a speed restriction in the Fitzrovia area, for which I and residents have been arguing for months. TfL have decided to implement a 25 k/ph speed restriction on both the southbound and northbound tracks, during the Night Tube. This speed restriction will be kept under review but I hope it will bring some relief at least at weekends to long suffering people who live near the lines.

TfL are also looking into alternative Delkor track fastening products, which could be installed in this area. They are continuing to progress further feasibility and design work to confirm their suitability.

In October, TfL carried out rail grinding, which reduces rail corrugation on the Northern Line, between Colindale and Hendon and at Mornington Crescent. They hope this will reduce the noise disturbance that some local residents have experienced. They will now carry out noise measurements at local properties, to assess the impact of these works.

I also urged eligible local car owners to apply to City Hall’s newly opened £25m scrappage fund, for low-income and disabled Londoners. Motorists can get up to £2,000 for scrapping an older, more polluting car or motorcycle. The new scheme runs alongside the existing £23m fund for micro businesses, sole traders and charity owners who want to scrap older vans.

To apply for the scheme, visit here: Individuals eligible for the £25 million scheme need to be in receipt of means-tested benefits and/or non means-tested Disability benefits. The applicant must also reside within the Greater London Authority boundary.

3  Policing

At October’s Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee (PCC) meeting I raised the impact of Brexit on policing and security with the Deputy Commissioner. His answers were rather worrying, to say the least. My exchanges with the deputy Commissioner are in the transcript form page 42.

The PCC has also published our annual report.

The Mayor has announced London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) is investing £4.7 million in a series of programmes to tackle school exclusions and support vulnerable young Londoners through education. The VRU – set up by the Mayor last year and the first of its kind in England – will fund programmes in schools that will work to reduce exclusion rates and provide support for young people making the transition from primary school to secondary school. Young people excluded from mainstream education are at significantly greater risk of becoming involved in or affected by serious youth violence. Investment will be targeted to ensure support for pupils with the most complex needs. The VRU will also fund additional provision for the crucial after-school period, following research that showed violent incidents involving young people are more likely to happen at the end of the school day.

4 Planning, Housing and Regeneration

I have objected to the most recent planning application for Grahame Park estate. I believe it is important that those who live on the estate, including so called ‘temporary’ tenants many of who have lived there for years, should be offered rehousing in the new homes to be built there.

5 Environment

See above in the transport section of this report, details of the Mayor’s new scrappage scheme for older polluting cars.

I was shocked to learn that Barnet Council Is the only London Borough not to take part In Mayor’s anti motor vehicle engine-idling campaign.

6  Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning (FREP)  Committee

As you would expect, as Chair of the Fire Resilience and Emergency Planning (FREP) committee, most of my time over the last 3 weeks has been devoted to the issues around the Grenfell Tower fire and the report on part 1 of the Public Inquiry:

Grenfell Tower Inquiry: Phase 1 Report

The report is a lengthy, sobering, harrowing and heart-rending account of the disaster as it unfolded, minute by minute. Reading the full report provides a clear understanding of why the bereaved, survivors, and residents feel the frustration and anger that so many of them do.  It is clear that firefighters displayed extraordinary courage on the night of the fire, as acknowledged in the report.

The Fire Brigade was not responsible for the cause of the fire or its rapid spread, which was due to the woeful mismanagement of the building, the alterations, and as the report says, the ACM flammable cladding which compromised the building’s ability to resist fire and protect the residents.

Nevertheless, the report, along with its recommendations, sets out matters of particular concern relating to the LFB. We brought forward our November FREP meeting, so we could explore some of those concerns before purdah kicked in, with the Fire Commissioner, the Deputy Mayor for Fire and Resilience, the National Fire Chief’s Council, and the Fire Brigades Union. Issues we considered included Brigade Control, learning the lessons of the earlier fatal Lakanal House tower fire, the lack of active communication between Control and the incident ground, a failure to understand and disseminate the risks of cladding fires in high rise buildings and to understand the LFB’s inspection obligations. You can view a video of the meeting here.

The Part 1 report also raises ‘far reaching’ questions for part 2 of the Inquiry as to whether the LFB’s training is adequate, and whether it is capable of learning from its mistakes.

Earlier in October, we also held an additional special meeting to receive a report from the London Fire Brigade (LFB) on the progress they have made, in addressing the lessons to be learned from the Grenfell tragedy. I consider that report to be a pretty transparent analysis of the LFB’s shortcomings on the night and before, and what steps they are taking as a result.

I responded for the Assembly to the LFB’s progress report on Grenfell.

The Ham And High newspaper ran my article on the progress report and the  Grenfell Tower Fire Inquiry.

I also responded to the Prime Minister’s statement on the Inquiry Report.

And commented on behalf of the Assembly.

What is especially scandalous, though, is the slow progress in remediating blocks with dangerous cladding. Londoners need answers over the delays.

During this reporting period, I also visited two fire stations, Mill Hill and Paddington, as part of my programme of meeting firefighters to hear their views round the mess table on Fire Brigade matters generally.

Finally, MQT FREP answers for October 2019.

7 Education

No report this time.

8 Health

I was pleased to see the success of the campaign against the move of Ravenscroft GP practice to Finchley Memorial Hospital.

9 Mayor’s report

Each month the Mayor produces a report on his activities: you can access his 36th report here.

10 Written questions to the Mayor

MQT Answers October 19.

Late October 2019 MQT Answers.

11 Problem solving and casework

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

12 Quiz answer

Q: Which famous London poet insisted on sitting in his garden with no clothes on; and where did he do it?

A: William Blake. He had a house in Lambeth and believed in the health-giving properties of ‘air bathing’. He was spotted regularly each summer sitting at a small table in the garden with his wife, both of them completely naked.

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