My report from City Hall No. 66: 6th June to 24th July 2020


As the lockdown starts to ease, so we can look at some of the longer term consequences, not the least being the impact on the funds of the GLA and its services.  The total shortfall is almost £500 million for City Hall alone, with the London Boroughs also facing huge budget gaps. This link sets out the Mayor’s position on what the shortfall means, unless the Government steps in- so far, the additional support for London local authorities and the GLA is far short of what is needed. I commented on the implications in my column in the Ham and High.

During this reporting period, we also saw the 3rd anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire. It is a scandal that so many tall buildings have still not been remediated – more below in the Fire Service section of this report.

Also, we saw the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests, which have gathered real momentum and whilst some of their objectives (such as cutting the police budget) may not be realistic, I hope we can all agree on the sentiments behind the movement and the need  for real change.

As for City Hall, we continue to hold our formal meetings virtually, by ‘teams’, so we can participate fully from home; though committees are still chaired from the Chamber at City Hall with members joining by video link, which I found to be a strange experience when chairing the FREP committee in a deserted City Hall in what seemed to be the political  equivalent of the Marie Celeste.

This month’s London quiz: 

Q:  What is unusual about the road outside The Savoy Hotel?

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 and young people

8) Health (including Covid 19)

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 many of my readers, I am growing increasingly concerned about the growing likelihood of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, which I believe is not what people voted for in the referendum; and coming hard on the heels of the economic shocks of Covid 19 is going to lead to a very rocky future.

I continue to publish Covid 19 business advice from the Boroughs and City Hall on my website:

Reopening Your Business Safely During Covid-19: Camden Council Update

Camden Council: Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Business Briefing From Barnet

On the wider economy, I commented on the Chancellor’s Economic Update

2) Transport and HS2

The virus has also impacted on the TfL, not least due to its finances, with 90% of fare income lost. We have also seen efforts to promote cycling and walking to keep the city moving, for example Euston Road’s temporary cycle lane.

I very much agree with the need for face coverings on public transport, and it is of concern that some people are still not complying – the police have issued a number of fines for this.

Bus services have a mixed picture: I welcomed the extension of  the 383 Bus to Finchley Memorial Hospital, a case I have been arguing for  a number of years now.

The 384 bus rerouting has not been popular. TfL are going ahead with this. I have raised residents’ concerns with TfL and with the Deputy Mayor for Transport, Heidi Alexander, about this.

Tube noise continues to be an issue, with previously remediated parts of the network deteriorating again; and finding that what was hoped to be a solution with new track fixings not now being the case.

June 2020 Tube noise answers and other TfL answers June and July 2020.

3) Policing

The main issue has been the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests. I was concerned about the demonstrations at a time when the social distancing is needed to help fight the virus.

I was interested to see the comments of Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu (who formerly was the police borough commander in Barnet) and is now the most senior BAME police officer in the country.

The Met Police responded to issues about restraint, so it was of some concern to see video footage of a Met. Officer apparently restraining a suspect with his knee on the suspect’s neck- this is now under investigation.

The Police and Crime Committee, on which I sit, has had virtual meetings attended by the Met and MOPAC and the Police Federation. Issues I raised include the policing of protest, terrorism, and the Fed’s demand that officer working in central London should have their vehicle congestion charge reimbursed if they drive to work.

We have also held informal meetings with the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, to discuss issues such as the Black Lives Matter concerns about discrimination in and by the police service.

I also attended a virtual meeting of the Camden Safer Neighbourhood Board.

4) Planning, Housing and Regeneration

I cover in more detail post Grenfell Fire issues below, but it is clear that a major concern is the position of leaseholders in privately owned tall blocks of flats with dangerous cladding. I participated in a Society of Labour Lawyers videocall on the rights (or lack of them) about leaseholders and cladding.

Other shoddy repair work also came up which needed my intervention at Desmond House, Barnet and the response from Metropolitan Housing.

Turning to planning, I had a virtual meeting with the developers of 46 Watford Way, after which I submitted objections to the scheme.

I also submitted a planning objection to the Victoria Quarter scheme In East Barnet.

I also received the Mayor’s response on Colindale Sainsbury’s site planning application.

5) Environment

I was pleased to see Camden’s Healthy Streets Award which showed Camden way ahead of Barnet.

I also questioned the City of London’s new charging regime for Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds.

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

As Chair of the FREP committee, I was very concerned about the potential £25 m cuts to the Fire Brigade budget.

We have had two formal FREP meetings during this report period, where we looked at the work of the Strategic Co-ordination Group (dealing with Covid 19), the LFB’s Transformation Plan (to deal with the post Grenfell criticisms of the Inquiry and the Inspectorate- now available on the LFB website).; and tall buildings firefighting.  We also agreed to extend by one year the lifetime of the current London Safety Plan, while requesting that better performance data be collected.

We had informal meetings with the new LFB Director of Transformation, Fiona Dolman; and with John Barradell, Chief Executive of the City of London Corporation. who is leading on post Covid recovery; and | had one to one virtual meetings with the Fire Commissioner, to look into detailed points about the above issues.

On post Grenfell concerns, I questioned the slow progress on cladding removal. Three Years on from the Grenfell tragedy thousands are still stuck in buildings with unsafe cladding, new figures reveal and My Grenfell comment piece.

I also had a virtual meeting with a firefighter and a London Ambulance paramedic, who are working  together as an ambulance crew to hear from them, how the support from the LFB was working, in providing up to 300 firefighters  to help with LAS emergency response during the pandemic- their view was that it was a very successful operation.

Mq Answers LFB June – July 2020

7) Education and young people

I publicised the new £2.1 million City Hall Fund For youth services, to encourage local organisations to bid for a share of the money.

8) Health (including Covid 19)

Like many people, I have been concerned about the record of the Government’s  Test And Trace App which is likely  be delayed until the Autumn.

At the July Plenary, I also raised the provision of PPE, looking forward to potential future Covid outbreaks.

I also wrote a letter for publication on Public Health England’s report Into the impact of Covid on BAME communities.

You may be interested in the Society of Labour Lawyers’ detailed critique of the Government’s approach to easing the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

9) Mayor’s report

Each month the Mayor produces a report on his activities:

Mayor’s 42nd and 43rd reports here.

Mayor’s updates on coronavirus:

11th  June, 24th June, 30th June, 15th July.

10) My written questions to the Mayor

Mayor’s Answers June – July 20

Late June 2020 Written Answers

June MQT Answers

July 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: What is unusual about the road outside The Savoy Hotel?

A:  It is the only place in the UK where it’s legal to drive on the right hand side of the road.

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