My report from City Hall No. 70: 19th December 2020 to 31st January 2021


May I start by wishing you a Happy New Year? 2021 cannot possibly be as bad as last year, and we do need to look for silver linings in the clouds that have gathered over us, with the Covid pandemic and the impact of Brexit.

As you may know, the Mayor of London has declared a major incident over Covid, which is causing such unprecedented demands on our NHS. At the time of writing, good progress is being made with vaccinations for at risk groups, but London still has not got our fare share of the vaccines. It is clear that even with vaccinations, the disease is going to be with us for a long time to come.

It is important that we respect the rules and enforcement is being stepped up.

I attended Holocaust Memorial Day events, held virtually at City Hall and at the national ceremony.

The Mayor has also published his draft budget for next financial year 2021/22, which I comment on below, in the sections on the economy and on the various services.

This month’s London quiz: 

Q Where in London did the first ever General Assembly of the United Nations take place, in 1946?

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

The Mayor has published his draft budget for 2021/22 at a time of very difficult GLA finances,  due to Covid. He is expecting a loss of 7% of council tax revenues, 11% in business rates income, and a loss of 75% of TfL’s passenger income. The shortfall for the current and next year across the GLA is £500 million. Cuts are being made across the board to help plug the gaps. The Mayor is proposing an increase in his share of the Council Tax at Band D of £31.59 a year (9.5%), due to inadequate Government support. If approved, this will be allocated at £15 for policing; £15 to fund concessionary travel for under 18s and over 60s; and £1.59 for the Fire Brigade. The budget will be finalised after the most up to date data is available, in February.

Since my last report Brexit has happened with a very limited deal and its shortcomings becoming increasingly apparent – no deal on financial services, no deal on security and policing, and we even see lorry drivers having their packed lunches confiscated, fishermen seeing their catches rot as they can’t export promptly, and shops in Northern Ireland not able to access goods from the mainland.

2) Transport and HS2

Quite a few people have raised with me concerns about people using the tube and buses without face coverings, in defiance of the rules. TfL have started to take a hard line against the minority who flout the Regulations:

TfL also commented on London’s Tier 4 status

TFL has also published its long term Financial Sustainability Plan

TfL fares will rise by RPI+1% from 1st March, as a result of the Government’s demands to provide a bail out due to the loss of income from fares due to Covid.

TFL published an update on school buses at the start of term.

I have kept up the pressure on tube noise problems.

3) Policing

The Metropolitan Police budget for 2021/22 is based on the Mayor’s target of recruiting 6,000 extra officers by 2023. This assumes an additional 2,646 officers in 2021/22 towards that number, despite a lack of certainty over Government funding. Almost half the proposed Council Tax increase will go to the Met.

I have received complaints over the theft of catalytic converters from cars in Edgware. The local SNT has published crime prevention advice about it.

4) Planning, Housing and Regeneration

At long last, the Government has finally approved the Mayor’s new London Plan.

Manifesto commitments the Mayor’s new London Plan includes are:

  • ensure tall buildings respect the character of their surroundings
  • support ‘tenure-blind’ development, avoiding the use of ‘poor doors’
  • prioritising development on brownfield sites
  • deliver homes that are accessible to all, including wheelchair users
  • ensure provision of cycle parking in new developments
  • promote the provision of space for small businesses
  • strengthen planning protections for small industrial and creative workspaces, and for London’s pubs
  • protect London’s live music venues, clubs and pubs by introducing an ’Agent for Change’ rule – so new developments next to existing venues meet soundproofing costs
  • support councils to enforce clear, new rules to maximise the affordable housing in new developments, with greater transparency around viability assessments
  • protect playing fields
  • challenge the spread of fast food shops near schools
  • ensure all new developments meet low carbon, energy efficiency and sustainability standards


I have received a lot of objections from residents about the scheme for 231 Colney Hatch Lane: I have also objected.

Other objections:

St Andrews Road Tennis Pitches

NIMR Traffic Management Plan

5) Environment

Barnet Conservative Council are threatening the parks in the borough.

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

The Fire Brigade budget is also under pressure, both from considerable additional demands as a result of Grenfell and the transformation project this has required; and the need to rely heavily on reserves to balance the books. The Brigade has to find £5 million of savings next year. This will include a recruitment freeze, which will see the number of operational firefighters reduce by 108 next year and 296 the year after, with 177 vacancies in the current year unfilled. This amounts to a significant reduction in front line firefighters.

This report from the Fire Commissioner shows how underprovided London is, compared to other world cities:

I have questioned the Mayor over the Fire Brigade’s finances

I have supported residents who are affected by dangerous cladding

The FREP committee has published a report on the cladding crisis

I co-signed  a cross party letter in support of leaseholders In unsafe properties

I questioned the Mayor over fire risks in the built environment :

I also questioned the Government’s so-called Waking Watch Relief Fund, which is anything but what it calls itself.

See also cladding written answers December 2020.


FREP MQT Answers December 2020.

7) Education and young people

It is pretty clear that the Government has messed up badly, with schools opening then immediately closing, with mixed messages to teachers and parents. I agree with the call from Keir Starmer MP. Labour leader, that teachers and school staff should have priority for vaccinations, aligned to the 50 to 65 age group: this can be achieved by increasing the throughput of vaccinations, avoiding slowing down the availability of jabs to that age group. Giving teachers protection in this way would go a long way to helping schools open- and stay open- safely.

8) Health (including Covid 19)

I have published letters on Covid safety:

I was also pleased to see Camden Council’s approach to symptom-free Coronavirus testing for workers in Camden.

9) Mayor’s reports

Each month the Mayor produces a report on his activities:

Mayor’s 48th report here.

10) My written questions to the Mayor

Late December 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  Where in London did the first ever General Assembly of the United Nations take place, in 1946?

A; Methodist Central Hall, Westminster. A plaque on Tothill St commemorates it.

Best wishes,





Andrew Dismore AM

Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden