My report from City Hall No. 67: 25th July to 25th September 2020


The period covered by this report is a bit longer than usual, as it covers the quiet period over the summer break. we have though come back to many of the same challenges- the Covid pandemic; the consequences of the Grenfell fire; and the serious financial position in which the GLA finds itself as the result of increased costs and loss of income due to responding to the virus. As I write this report, the new restrictions have been announced and I regret to say I think there is more to come, if we are going to have a chance to get on top of Covid over the winter.

While we are focussed on the virus, we also face the consequences of a rapidly approaching Brexit, and probably without an agreement. By the time I write my next report, we will know one way or the other where we stand – and the consequences of the outcome.

All these things pose major threats to us in London, and we on the Assembly are doing all we can to hold those responsible to account.

This month’s London quiz: 

Q:   Who was the only king or queen to have been born and to die at Buckingham Palace?

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

With the economy facing more tribulations with increasing anti- Covid measures and the growing risk of a no-deal Brexit, businesses and jobs are at real risk. The Chancellor’s recent announcements are welcome, but do little for those whose employment is set to disappear with the end of the furlough scheme next month. at the least, it would have been helpful o see an emphasis on training for new skills, for example.

Oxford Economics’ report on the impact of Coronavirus on the London economy shows the seriousness of the situation.

I welcomed Sadiq Khan’s new support for business and support for creative industries, such a major part of the capital’s economy.

Our two boroughs are also doing what they can, to help resilience and support:

Update from Camden Council on business resilience:

London Borough of Barnet: Coronavirus (Covid-19) business briefing:

As for Brexit, the Government seem to be sleepwalking the country into ‘no deal’. The proposed legislation to break the treaty signed less than a year ago inevitably casts doubt onto the good faith of the UK, rather than the EU in the negotiations, in my view, a view expressed by all the living ex-Prime Ministers. Kier Starmer is right to demand the Government delivers its so-called ‘oven ready’ deal by resolving the two remaining issues: fisheries and state aid rules. the longer and closer to the deadline it takes, the more we face the double whammy of jobs lost through the virus compounded by yet more job losses or jobs going abroad through no deal Brexit

2) Transport and HS2

A lot of the focus on transport in this reporting period has focused on young people, as the campaign to keep free travel grows:

Assembly Member urges Government to rethink scrapping free Under-18s travel  and Government must scrap plan to suspend free travel for thousands of young Londoners:

The return to school after summer holidays and the  lockdown has thrown up problems with busses for students going to and from school, with insufficient capacity in large part due to the virus bus passenger number restrictions, compounded by TfL rerouting and new timetabling, which together have caused a lot of disruption for children and parents.  I have been raising this directly with the Mayor’s office and am tabling questions for the next Mayor’s Question Time about it.

Yet again tube noise affecting local residents has been to the fore. I have continued to press for better remedial action from TfL, including a ‘virtual’ meeting with the boss of London Underground and their Head of Track.

Previous possible solutions have not worked as hoped: Deputy Mayor Heidi Alexander on tube noise and Delkor track fastenings, though I looked at the latest is a new rail sleeper which may help. Here is also an update on tube noise at Finchley Central.

Work is underway on the new A1000 Cycle Lane, but I am concerned about several safety aspects of this, not least for pedestrians.

On a more positive note, I welcomed the Kentish Town Thameslink Station upgrade.

TfL have produced a new app to help Londoners plan ahead and travel safely.

And I am pleased to see at long last the Government recognising that rail franchising has not worked.

However, we Londoners have not had our fair share of the Government’s Safer Streets Fund.

Finally, answers of interest to transport from MQT in September 2020.

3) Policing

At this month’s Police and Crime Committee meeting, I raised the problems of unlicensed music events – I have had a number of complaints of widely advertised large scale parties taking place in residential areas causing noise nuisance and distress to neighbours. The Deputy Commissioner told me that the police do have the resources to deal with these. If one occurs affecting you, then you should call the police on the 101 number.

I also raised the issue of the policing of protests, given the number of recent large scale protests and the need to maintain social distancing and anti Covid measures by those attending.

I raised with the police problems of anti- social behaviour and speeding on the A406.

I am due to meet (virtually) the Met.’s head of traffic and transport policing command shortly

Finally, given his anti-Semitic comments I made clear that Rapper Wiley is not welcome in Golders Green.

4) Planning, Housing and Regeneration

The big news is the Conservative Government’s White Paper ‘Planning For The Future’ on town planning rules. I think this is pretty appalling, in the way it will downgrade the role of local planning authorities and residents, while giving the green light to developments that should not be allowed. Barnet Labour Councillors have produced a summary of the document:

Measures that the mayor took to help rough sleepers during the pandemic have been coming to an end, with local authorities stepping in to help. Unfortunately, rough sleeping in Barnet has almost doubled.

I have objected to a number of planning applications:

Objection to latest underground hotel application (Bloomsbury).

Objection To Planning Application For Finchley Central “Casino”:

Latest addition To “Barnhattan” opposed (Colindale):

Objection to B And Q Cricklewood application:

Objection for land next to Broadfields Primary School (Edgware):

Planning Objection To Colindale Toyota.

And for information, the British Library’s plans for St Pancras:

5) Environment

In the wake of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests, the Mayor has now launched a call for Members to form his Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm:


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

As you would expect, the work of FREP remains dominated by Grenfell issues.

Firstly, there are the continuing problems facing residents in blocks with dangerous cladding and the slow progress of remediation, including a highly critical report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee, ‘Progress In Remediating Dangerous Cladding’.

See also: Mayor demands action from owners of unsafe buildings.

One of the consequences of this slow progress, or lack of it, has been the thousands of hours of extra safety checks carried out by London’s firefighters.

The Fire Brigade are also developing new procedures for high rise firefighting, but I am concerned about the health and safety for firefighters of some of these measures.

I am sure you have heard of the edicts from the Government over removing the Chinese tech company Huawei from UK services. This has created an unintended consequence for the long overdue new emergency services communications network.

Finally, a large number of answers at September 2020 MQT of FREP interest.

7) Education and young people

with schools having returned, this has created a number of transport issues for TfL- see above.

I am also concerned about the Covid risks posed to and by university students returning to or starting their courses, given the large number of higher education institutions in the constituency. I have had a reassuring letter from Middlesex University’s Vice Chancellor on what they are doing to minimise risk.

8) Health (including Covid 19)

There can be little doubt that the Government’s Test and Trace arrangements have been little more than a fiasco, in London, as capacity has been moved away from the capital, leaving us exposed, with an infection rate far higher than the remaining test capacity shows. At least we now have the Test And Trace App, which I hope everyone will sign up to.

I was very concerned over the decision of the Government to abolish Public Health England, at this dangerous time- changes of this scale should not happen in the middle of a pandemic and can only weaken our response, an issue I raised with the Mayor.

See also letter to editors: Public Health England.

See Covid-19 Recovery And Transition Briefing, 31 July – though a little overtaken by events:

Here is useful guidance from the Government on safe use of places of worship:

And you may be interested in this long read: ‘How the Pandemic Revealed Britain’s National Illness’.

Finally, a large number of answers at September 2020 MQT of Covid interest.

9) Mayor’s reports

Each month the Mayor produces a report on his activities:

Mayor’s 44th report

10) My written questions to the Mayor

September 2020 Mqt Answers

Late Mqt Answers June 20

July 2020 Late Mqt Answers – July 2020 Late Mqt Answers

Late July 2020 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:   Who was the only king or queen to have been born and to die at Buckingham Palace?

A: King Edward VII (born 1841, reigned 1901-10)

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