My report from City Hall No. 62: 21st December 2019 to 31st January 2020

My report from City Hall

No. 62:  21st December 2019 to 31st January 2020


As I write this report, so the clock is ticking down to the exit of the UK from the European Union, tonight. I regard this as a very sad moment, the consequences of which we still cannot see. what is clear though, is that Brexit is not done, with negotiations only now about to start on the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

Juxtaposed with Brexit, this month also saw the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and Holocaust Memorial Day held on the same date. I attended the commemoration in Barnet and also the national ceremony, to which I get invited as one of the instigators of HMD when I was an MP. I was pleased to see that the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has pledged £300,000 to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation in Poland to help ensure that the horrors of the Holocaust are never forgotten.

The Mayor’s Draft Budget was debated this month in the Assembly Plenary- I comment on aspects of the budget below, though here is a headline note.

This month’s London quiz: 

Q : In which East London pub did Jack the Ripper allegedly spot several of his victims?

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

1) Europe, ‘Brexit’ and the economy

2) Transport 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

At MQT, I questioned the Mayor over the impact of Brexit on NHS staffing in London; and also the risks to London’s EU national children in the future, in light of the Windrush scandal.

I also used my Ham and High column on similar issues, Brexit and the NHS.

Finally Brexit Mayor’s written answer.

2) Transport and HS2

I am pleased to say that at long last two campaigns of over 20 years locally are finally coming to a successful end with the Stirling Corner pedestrian and cycle crossing nearing completion.

alongside the installation of step free access at Mill Hill East tube station, both issues I raised with the Mayor at the budget plenary.

3) Policing

The Mayor has told the London Assembly that he will raise the policing precept of Council Tax by 22 pence a week (band D). This is expected to raise an additional £15.7 million for crime reduction and provide fast-track funding for 600 police officers for the next financial year. This comes after City Hall investment saw police officer numbers increase to above 31,000 for the first time since 2017.

I met with the acting BCU Commander for Barnet, Brent and Harrow, Supt. Louis Smith, who was very positive about the new officers who will shortly be coming on stream and which he will use to form a special anti violent crime team for the BCU. I also discussed with him a range of local issues, including burglary, robberies around school leaving times, and hate crime.

We have had two meetings of the Police and Crime Committee during this report period. The first, a Q and A with the Deputy Commissioner Sir Stephen House, was an opportunity for me to raise the incidence of crime affecting tourists and residents in West End, including Camden’s southerly wards, where the impact of crime against tourists is very high and affects local residents too. Sir Stephen agreed that there needed to be a meeting for hoteliers and residents with the Met to discuss the problem and possible solutions.

The second meeting was with MOPAC, to consider their processes for tendering out services and outcomes.

Some good news: moped enabled crime has featured in the press a lot over recent years and was a priority for the pro-active Operation Venice team of Central North. They have worked very hard to deal with this problem and target the offenders. They have been very successful in their efforts. In 2017 thousands of this type of offence occurred. With a high in the month of June 2017, of 1363 offences recorded. Due to the efforts of the officers of Operation Venice and supporting teams by June 2019 the number of offences had gone down to 132 offences. By December 2019 there were only 27 recorded moped enabled crimes. This is a huge reduction and testament to the efforts our officers.

4) Planning, Housing and Regeneration

I was very concerned to see the press and TV coverage of the appalling conditions at Marsh Drive, West Hendon, the last remaining block to be demolished as part of the badly managed regeneration. I have since raised the need for a strong police presence with the BCU commander to deter drug dealing and usage in the common parts; arranged a fire brigade inspection of fire safety, and have lining up a housing specialist legal aid lawyer to help those facing eviction with no certainty as to their future housing arrangements. | also commented on the scandal at the People’s Question Time event in Haringey.

The North London Business Park development, in my view, represents considerable overdevelopment. The scheme was rejected by Barnet, but the Secretary of State has overruled the Council and granted permission.

I also submitted planning objections to the  Colindale Sainsburys development but Barnet Council approved the scheme with its 28-storey tower block.

I also submitted objections to the IBSA House scheme Mill Hill.

The Regeneration Committee, on which I sit held a meeting to look at the Borough of Culture Scheme, supported by the Mayor. Waltham Forest’s year has just ended and Brent has taken over the mantle for 2020.

I also submitted comments in support of the West Finchley neighbourhood development plan.

5) Environment

On 26 October 2020, the Mayor will take the next major step to address the public health toxic air crisis. He will toughen emissions standards in the existing London-wide Low Emission Zone, which applies to heavy vehicles only, so that they match the tough standards already in place in the central London ULEZ, which applies to all vehicles.  Current LEZ emissions standards set a limit for how much particulate matter (PM) a vehicle may emit. The tougher standard – Euro VI – will also set a limit for nitrogen oxides (NOx) for some vehicles. Heavy vehicles that do not meet these new emissions standards in the LEZ will need to pay a daily charge to drive in the area. The ULEZ itself will expand up to the North and South Circular roads for all vehicles (with some discounts and exemptions) a year later, on 25 October 2021. These schemes are an essential part of the Mayor’s plans to tackle London’s air pollution, and we know the approach works. From the first six months of the central London ULEZ, we have seen:

  • 77 per cent of vehicles in the zone now meet the ULEZ emissions standards.
  • Roadside nitrogen dioxide (N02) pollution has reduced by 36 per cent in the zone
  • N0x emissions from road transport in the central zone are now 31 per cent lower

As a result of tougher LEZ emissions standards and an expanded ULEZ, we expect road transport nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions to reduce by around 30 per cent across London in 2021. These changes, and the Mayor’s package of air quality measures, will have wider impacts for all of London. King’s College estimate that without action, it would take 193 years to bring London’s air quality to legal levels. The Mayor’s policies mean we expect to do this in six years. This means the number of schools in London in illegally polluted areas will reduce from over 450 today to zero in 2025.

The Mayor has also announced measures that will accelerate the move to cleaner vehicles across London, including the doubling of payments for the van scrappage scheme to £7,000, with £9,500 also now available to those switching to electric vans. This is to help businesses prepare for the tightening of the London-wide Low Emission Zone standards this October and the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to the north and south circular in 2021.  The eligibility for the scheme is broadened so that more businesses can benefit. Previously firms with fewer than 10 employees, defined as micro businesses were eligible. Now small businesses, those with 50 or fewer employees, are included. Other changes to the van scrappage scheme mean drivers will have to have made at least 26 trips into the Congestion Charge Zone in the six months prior to the launch of the scheme. Previously drivers had to make at least 52 trips. For more details visit here.

6) Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning (FREP) Committee

London Fire Brigade issues have taken much of my time this month, as Chair of the FREP Committee.

I reported last time about the damning HMICFRS (Fire Inspectorate) report about a number of aspects of LFB practice and procedures, especially training and validation of skills. I met with the Inspector to get more detail behind his conclusions.  I also met with Sir Ken Knight (former Government Fire Adviser and London Fire Commissioner, some time ago) to get his perspective on the Inspectorate and Grenfell reports. I discussed the key issues with the new Fire Commissioner Andy Roe, who I believe is starting to get on top of the many things that need sorting out. Since he took up the job on 1st January, Commissioner Roe has produced, to a very tight timetable, a comprehensive improvement plan for the LFB, which we will be focussing on at our next FREP meeting in March.

Our formal FREP meeting this month concentrated on the training issues, with some very  frank exchanges with LFB and the training contractor Babcock,  especially relating to incident command and  emergency vehicle driving, identified as priorities by the Inspector.

I have also been keeping up the pressure on the progress (or lack of it) over remediation of dangerous cladding on tower blocks. I was astounded to hear that not a penny has so far been paid out of the Government fund to assist with the costs of privately-owned blocks.

I am also concerned about some of the unnecessary Government secrecy over Grenfell type cladding risks and the poor rate of remediation.

At the Budget plenary, I also questioned the Mayor extensively on these issues.

Finally, FREP Written Answers for December 2019 and January 2020.

7) Education

I am very concerned about the continuing cuts imposed by central Government to our schools in Barnet and Camden.

I visited the RAF Museum, Colindale to discuss with the Director their future plans for the Museum.

8) Health

no report this month

9) Mayor’s report

Each month the Mayor produces a report on his activities: you can access his 38th report here.

10) Written questions to the Mayor

MQT Answers Jan 20

Dec 19 and late answers December 2019.

11) Problem solving and casework

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

12) Quiz answer

Q : In which East London pub did Jack the Ripper allegedly spot several of his victims?

A: The Ten Bells

Best wishes,





Andrew Dismore AM

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