My report from City Hall No. 71: 1st February to 19th March 2021

Dear Andrew,


This is my 71st and final report from City Hall, a series I began in 2012 when I was first elected to the London Assembly. I hope you have found them of interest.

Purdah for the Assembly elections starts on Monday, so that is when official meetings and events cease. I retire from front line politics on May 9th, when my term of office comes to an end.

I was first elected as a ward councillor in Westminster City Council in 1982, where I served for 15 years, including 7 years as leader of the opposition when we exposed the Conservatives’ ‘Homes for Votes’ scandal, which the courts described as the’ worst case of local government corruption of the century’. I then served 13 years as MP for Hendon in the Labour Governments of 1997 to 2010, the first Labour MP to be elected there since 1945. My work as an MP included chair of the Human Rights Committee, and specialising in private members bills, when I got two into law and three others taken over as Government policy.

Having won the Barnet and Camden London Assembly seat from the Conservatives in 2012, my political career now ends voluntarily after nine years on the Assembly.

It has been an honour and a privilege to serve my various constituents, but after almost 40 years in elected politics it is time to move on. I hope that you will be able to support Anne Clarke as my successor if she is elected as I am sure she will make an excellent AM.

This month’s London quiz: 

Q: Smithfield was the site of medieval jousting tournaments. What golden prize is recalled in the name of a nearby street today?

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

This month saw the adoption of the Mayor’s budget for the GLA and Londonwide services, which I trailed in last month’s report.

Mayor’s budget gets Local Assembly Member’s backing.

We also saw the national budget published by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which I commented on in a letter for publication.

Whilst the issues raised by Covid 19 continue to dominate the headlines, the impact of Brexit on the economy has been taking a poor second place. it is worrying though, that exports to the EU have fallen by 40.7% with some types of export, such as fisheries, having fallen by well over 80%. There is still ‘no deal’ in sight for financial services which is a serious matter for London, as is the lack of replacement security arrangements for those in force before Brexit.

2) Transport and HS2

I have continued to pursue TfL over the problem of tube noise affecting residents living near tube lines. TfL have published a PowerPoint with details of complaints. I have also raised more questions with the Mayor.

I know some people are concerned about the possibility of a new boundary charge on vehicles registered outside London coming into the capital. I have commented on this.

With schoolchildren now returning to school after the lifting of Covid restrictions, TfL published their plans for school travel.

3) Policing

The Police and Crime Committee held its last meeting before the election. As you would expect, we focused on the policing of the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard last weekend. I questioned the Deputy Police Commissioner over the rationale for the police’s tactics at the vigil.

I had already recently asked the Mayor about the compensation paid so far to those affected by the activities of the Met’s Special Demonstration Squad covert unit (nicknamed the ‘spycops’ who spied on thousands of activists over its 40-year existence, including forming relationships with a number of women under false identities.  The total compensation paid in respect of civil claims relating to the activities of the unit is a staggering £3,488,000 so far. The Met. has received other civil claims and proposed claims, which are still outstanding and will no doubt add to this enormous bill.

At this last meeting for me of the PCC, I also questioned the Deputy Mayor and Deputy Commissioner on the impact of the courts backlog due to Covid, with about a quarter of a million criminal trials due to be held in London criminal courts. Some serious cases have been scheduled for trial as far off as 2023.

At the previous PCC meeting, I raised the issue of the lost police national computer data, and the loss of access to EU data on crime and criminals. I questioned the Commissioners and Deputy Mayor about research into the causes of homicide; and I also raised the issue of catalytic converter thefts In Edgware. I have also published police advice on reducing the risk of such thefts.

I was pleased to see that the Mayor has provided an extra £38 Million investment in the Met, to keep officer numbers up.

Finally, MOPAC has published its Annual Report.

4) Planning, Housing and Regeneration

Homelessness has been a major issue this month, with 1,632 Barnet And Camden households needing help from their Councils to avoid homelessness in the first six months of the Covid outbreak.

Rough sleeping also saw a 9% increase in Camden in the lead up to Christmas.

In the meantime, for a number of years Barnet forewent millions in developers’ contributionsa real scandal when such money could have been put to good use

The new London Plan is at last in force, with the ‘notice of publication of the replacement of the Spatial Development Strategy for Greater London’

Mayor Sadiq Khan has upheld the refusal of the North Finchley Homebase site scheme.

I am concerned about Barnet Council’s plans and poor Consultation over their ‘Hendon Hub’ scheme.

I have commented on the Ibsa House planning application, Mill Hill.

And I have objected to the planning application for the site near Colindale Station.

5) Environment

No report this month

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

At this month’s Mayor’s Question Time, the last before the election and my last before retirement I raised the evidence at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 2, a damning indictment of privatisation, de-regulation and the pursuit of profit over public safety.

The FREP committee is also about to publish a series of recommendations about the cladding issue, which will be linked to my website imminently.

I was pleased to see that the Mayor has provided £15 million in additional funding for the Fire Brigade in the next financial year which will be enough to avoid cuts; but there remain concerns over the longer-term funding of the Brigade

I commented on the inadequacies of the Government’s cladding funds announcement.

The nature of the problem is also illustrated by the latest Premier House Edgware scheme, which illustrates the extent of Government cladding failures.

I raised a number of questions to the Mayor over cladding issues and on Fire Brigade issues more generally.

I also spoke out about the Waking Watch’s cabin on the Pulse development, Colindale, which caught fire – not a great builder of confidence in their service.

A good news story! I have campaigned for eight years to bring back into use four derelict cottages, behind and part of West Hampstead Fire Station. The work has now been done, and the cottages now provide 8 single person’s flats, for LFB staff.

Finally, I was really pleasantly surprised to be presented a gift by the London Fire Brigade, in thanks for the work I have done for firefghters since 1978, when I started my association with the LFB as the Fire Brigades Union solicitor – my own fire helmet.

7) Education and young people

No report this month

8) Health (including Covid 19)

The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg has published a very interesting history of Covid over the last year. Whilst this is not the sort of thing I would normally link to my report I think it is well worth a read:

9) Mayor’s reports

Each month the Mayor produces a report on his activities:

Mayor’s 49th report here.

10) My written questions to the Mayor

MQT Answers Feb 21.

11) Problem solving and casework

Arjun Mittra is my City Hall assistant who manages incoming correspondence, casework and my diary:

12) Quiz answer

Q: Smithfield was the site of medieval jousting tournaments. What golden prize is recalled in the name of a nearby street today?

A: Giltspur Street

Best wishes,

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