My report from City Hall No. 68: 26th September to 8th November 2020


A number of big issues this period, not the least being the Covid 19 lockdown- more on this below in the health section. It is clear though, that the Government were far too slow, meaning that more people caught the virus and the lockdown is for longer than it would have been if they had followed the scientific advice and what Kier Starmer was calling for weeks ago.

The knock on effect has affected families and businesses. It has led to the cancellation of Guy Fawkes night parties on the one hand and more seriously Remembrance Day events on the other. It has severely affected the Royal British Legion Poppy appeal fundraising too. As former President of the RBL new Edgware Branch, I am involved with organising the Edgware ceremony- which at short notice we had to move on line, with our wreath laying ceremony being recorded for podcast the day before lockdown.

Last month saw the publication of the long awaited EHRC report into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. I was interviewed by EHRC and gave them a formal statement as part of their investigation. Unsurprisingly, the report is pretty damning.

I am pleased that Kier Starmer has accepted all the report’s recommendations.

You have probably followed the Government’s attempts to punish London over TfL’s budget. More on this in the transport section below. However, I am sure you will be pleased to know that their demand to extend the Congestion Charge to the North Circular is off, at least for now. The new deal expires in March 2021, so we will see what comes from the Government then. Their unfair treatment of TfL is in sharp contrast to the way they have dealt with the privatised train operating companies, who have been bailed out with no strings or demands whatsoever.

Brexit is still a matter of grave concern, even if it has fallen down the news agenda, behind the lockdown and the US elections. A no deal Brexit  is still very much on the table, and given the impact of Covid 19 on the economy, a double whammy from Brexit is the last thing we need, with the Bank of England already predicting the economy will have shrunk by 11% at the end of the calendar year, compared to 2019.

Last but by no means least; I hope we can all congratulate Joe Biden on winning the US Presidency. Despite his protestations and wild claims of fraud by Donald Trump, it will be good to see a grown up in the White House. I believe the world can give a sigh of relief that the Trump presidency is over.

This month’s London quiz: 

Q:   In which century where the greatest number of people executed in the Tower of London: a) 16th; b) 17th ; c) 18th ; d) 19th  e) 20th?

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

At this month’s Assembly plenary I raised the issue of poor connectivity and digital exclusion which have been highlighted by the impact of Covid on Londoners working from home.

Camden Council has also been giving out regular updates for business.

2) Transport and HS2

Much of this month has been taken up by the arguments with Government over the need for further support for TfL.  The Government’s original demands meant the end to over 60s and under 18s free travel, higher council taxes, and the extension of the Congestion Charge to the North Circular, all of which are unacceptable.

I wrote to Barnet’s Conservative MPs demanding they stand up for London against these draconian TfL funding conditions:

I also wrote letters for publication to the local press on TfL funding.

Part of the problem is that whilst the Government commissioned a full analysis of TfL’s  finances, they have refused to publish the full  report– presumably because it does not support their assessment of the cause of TfL’s problems, which are pretty obviously down to fewer  passengers  and less fare income, due to the virus. I commented on the need for this research to be published.

Another aspect is the ‘drip feed’ of financial support, which makes planning very difficult:

Whilst the Mayor has seen off these Government plans to extend the Congestion Charge and scrap concessions as a deal was reached until March 2021.

The fear must be, that as the next round of negotiations for a post March 2021 settlement come upon us, the Government resurrect their draconian proposals, all at a time when we are approaching the election ‘purdah’ period which will restrict comments on their scheming.

As it is, we will be facing fare increases in January of inflation plus 1%, as demanded by the Government.

Moving on, some good news re bus services to Finchley Memorial Hospital with the extension of route 383.

At the start of the Autumn term, there were problems with capacity on some school buses, which I took up with TfL.

And a general bus service update from TfL.

TfL also issued an update on the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) from October next year:

I raised the issue of bus lanes in Camden Road.

I have continued to pursue the issue of tube noise.

update from TfL after tube noise meeting.

Letter from TfL on tube noise

Tube Noise Written MQ Answers September 2020.

Tube Noise Written MQ Answers October 2020.

3) Policing

At this month’s Police and Crime Committee, I raised the problems facing the new national emergency services radio network, which is years behind in development, well over budget, and risks obsolescence soon after it finally comes in. the problem is compounded by the Government ban on Huawei technology, which is part of the system.

I also asked questions about the Met.’s budget and the cuts they are facing; and the Met.’s internal misconduct investigation processes.

I also met informally (virtually) the Met.’s head of traffic and transport policing command, to discuss enforcement on the roads, especially speeding; and enforcement on transport of covid rules.

4) Planning, Housing and Regeneration

Some good news this month: we have seen a 36% drop in rough sleeping in Camden over the Summer.

…. and the bad news concerns the Government’s scheme to change radically the planning consent regime, significantly weakening the opportunities for scrutiny and approval by local planning authorities and local communities;

New plans for Brent Cross South have been announced, renaming it “Brent Cross Town”.

I commented on the proposed Edgware Hospital development, and their response.

I also submitted objections to planning applications for:

Stanmore and Edgware Golf Centre

Partingdale Lane Sub Station

and North Finchley Homebase

5) Environment

The pandemic has raised real problems for arts organisations. The Mayor cannot bail out everyone, but he has granted £10,000 to Camden’s New Bloomsbury Set.

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

Issues from Grenfell continue to form the core work of FREP, which I chair.

It is a year on since the Grenfell Inquiry first report, covering the LFB, was released. The Mayor published a progress report on its recommendations.

Our formal FREP meeting concentrated on the problems caused by dangerous cladding: here is the transcript.

I also raised a series of questions with the Mayor on cladding issues.

A swiftly emerging problem, which we covered in the formal FREP meeting, is the question of ‘EWS1’ forms, which were intended to help certify buildings as safe (or otherwise), to speed up mortgages and sales. In fact, they have had entirely the opposite effect, with leaseholders becoming ‘mortgage prisoners’, as their homes become valued at zero.

I spoke with Colindale residents at a virtual zoom meeting, as this area has been badly hit by the EWS1 rules. New builds across London have been affected due to the difficulties of getting these certificates.

We discussed the issue at this month’s Assembly Plenary, and on a cross party basis unanimously passed this lengthy motion, which sets out the details of the problem and what needs to be done.

I had a constructive virtual meeting with the DCLG minister Lord Greenhalgh, to discuss the problems of cladding remediation and EWS1

See also my briefing on EWS1 and correspondence with the Mayor, as well as his response.

I have serious concerns over the LFB budget, with £25 million cuts on the horizon, which I raised with the Mayor at MQT.

I also held informal discussions with the Fire Commissioner and the Deputy Mayor for Fire and Resilience on all these issues.

Finally MQ answers:

Mqt late FREP Answers September 20.

Fire Written Answers October 2020:

7) Education and young people

Applications are now open for the Active Londoners Fund, to help with the cost of amateur sport for young people, though no doubt overtaken in part by events, with the Government covid restrictions.

8) Health (including Covid 19)

As indicated at the start of this report, things have not moved as quickly as they should, with the Government ignoring scientific advice, such as when they ignored the October ‘circuit break’ advice from Sage.

London then moved To the Tier 2 lockdown, which didn’t last long, until the full lockdown soon came in.

Here are the new Covid regulations.

Camden Council has issued regular Covid updates on help available from them.

9) Mayor’s reports

Each month the Mayor produces a report on his activities:

Mayor’s  45th report here.

10) My written questions to the Mayor

Late September 2020 Mqt Answers

October 2020 Written answers

Updated Written Answers, October 2020

Mqt Late Answers Oct 20

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 century where the greatest number of people executed in the Tower of London?

A: e) 20th century. Before then, only a handful of people were executed each century within the Tower’s precincts, involving members of the nobility or royal family. During the two world wars, captured spies were shot by firing squad in the Tower.

Best wishes,





Andrew Dismore AM

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