My report from City Hall No. 63: 1st February to 19th March 2020


This report is a little thinner than usual, as I had to take time out for most of February due to a close family bereavement.

I had expected this, my 63rd City Hall report, to be my last as ‘purdah’ was to kick in before my anticipated retirement at the May elections; and March’s People’s Question Time (in Battersea) also to be my last.

However, as you will be aware, the London elections have been postponed for a year because of the coronavirus, so I will be remaining on the Assembly for another year. I am currently working from home in accord with official advice. See below in the health section for comments on the virus, though it is a fast moving picture and anything I write is almost certainly going to be out of date by the time you read this report.

I would also like to add that I am delighted that Labour Party members in Barnet and Camden have voted to select Childs Hill Councillor Anne Clarke as the candidate to replace me next year. I have been working closely with Anne for the last few years on a number of local matters, and she has always impressed me with her excellent grasp of complicated issues, determination to get things done for residents and compassion for those who need help. I am certain that she will make an excellent London Assembly Member and I look forward to supporting her after the suspension of campaigning due to the coronavirus is over.

This month’s London quiz: 

Q What is the largest of London’s subterranean rivers?

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

Events have overtaken Brexit somewhat, and there is little news and progress to report this month.

2) Transport and HS2

Coronavirus has obviously impacted on public transport: see below in the health section of this report.

At the Assembly Transport plenary, I questioned the Mayor over progress on meeting his cycling commitments.

I have made representations to TfL about their proposed banned turn from A41 into Fortune Green Road.

3) Policing

At the Police and Crime Committee Q and A session with the Met and Deputy Mayor, I raised the lack of police action about fraud offences; the Met’s new training contract with Babcock’s (in light of the experience of the Fire Brigade and their Babcock contract, heavily criticised by the Inspectorate recently); and freedom of speech.

4) Planning, Housing and Regeneration

The subject for this month’s Regeneration Committee meeting was the question of Opportunity Areas. I commented particularly about the experience in Barnet, including in Mill Hill and Colindale, where they have led to overdevelopment, in my view.

I know many residents are concerned about TfL’s proposals to build on car parking land near Finchley Central and High Barnet tube stations. I have written to the Mayor about this.

5) Environment

I successfully proposed a motion at the Assembly Plenary, about the need to continue with housing renovations to support decarbonisation, and the tensions this creates for housing revenue accounts faced with large post Grenfell bills for remediation as well.

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

At MQT, which was a shortened session focussing on coronavirus, I raised the impact on the Fire Brigade and the need to maintain fire cover. 

The continuing issue on the FREP committee is our follow up of the Grenfell and Inspectorate reports and the implementation of the Brigade’s improvement plan to address the issues raised in these reports.

To this end, I visited Brigade Control in Merton, to see what progress is being made. Whilst a lot has happened or is in train, I remain concerned about the mobilising system, which does not have provision for control staff to store phone numbers to call people back. In the absence of a technical solution, Control staff have to rely on pen and paper.

I also observed the LFB exercise to practice a tower block emergency evacuation on a disused block in Peckham. This certainly brought home the very difficult and challenging environment facing firefighters should an evacuation be needed for real.

 Fire visit March 20

I remain concerned about the inadequate Government response to dangerous cladding. Although the Budget extended the remediation fund to include other forms of cladding, this still applies only to buildings over 18 metres tall, and as we have seen from recent fires in London and Manchester, lower buildings are also affected. The Government are also not providing any support for interim measures, such as ’waking watch’, which is very expensive for residents to fund. I raised some of these issues at Assembly Plenary.

On a happier note, I attended the Brigade’s long service awards, which included a presentation to a member of the civilian staff who has served for 50 years!

MQT Feb 20 Answers: Fire.

MQT Late Fire Answers Feb 20

7) Education

Coronavirus, as you know, has led to the decision to close schools. For further information see the link below to the video of MQT and the Mayor’s written update. I have been keen to ensure that the impact on key workers are considered in this decision.

I met the new Vice Chancellor at Middlesex University to discuss their future plans, after attending the launch at the University of the photo exhibition about occupied Morphou in Cyprus.

8) Health

The main issue is clearly coronavirus. The MQT for March was reorganised to focus on the pandemic. This link will enable you to watch the full proceedings, where a lot of information and advice was given by the Mayor and also the Deputy Mayor for Resilience. I particularly raised the need to maintain fire cover (see above); and the need for cleaners to be recognised as key workers, as restrictions close in.

This is the Mayor’s last written update on coronavirus.

See also my written questions on coronavirus.

In other health news,  have also commented on the 264% increase in the number of ambulances left waiting outside Royal Free A and E departments for over an hour:

9) Mayor’s report

Each month the Mayor produces a report on his activities: you can access his 39th  report here.

10) Written questions to the Mayor

February 2020 Written Mayoral Answers.

More MQT Answers Feb 20.

Late Mqt Feb 20 Answers.

Late 2019 Written 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 : What is the largest of London’s subterranean rivers?

A: The Fleet

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