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Charter aims to heal London rift

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London boroughs could be handed more influence over health, police and transport policies, following a deal between the mayor Boris Johnson and London Councils.

It is hoped the City Charter will improve the relationship between the two tiers of government, which was often stormy during Ken Livingstone’s mayoralty.

However, the document, which took 10 months to create, contains little detail and few firm commitments, fuelling fears it will result in a mere talking shop.

Matters raised in the charter will be further discussed at ‘congress of leaders’ meetings, chaired by the mayor and featuring every London leader.

The charter also states that the boroughs and the mayor could coordinate their efforts on lobbying central government for funding, youth crime and climate change.

Mr Johnson said: “For far too long relations between City Hall and the boroughs have been confrontational rather than constructive, hindering the development of our great city.”

Lambeth Council leader Steve Reed (Lab), who has spoken out against the charter in the past, admitted that “the intentions behind it are good and it has some interesting ideas”. But he added: “While it would be wrong to label it an empty gesture, a lot of the proposals are from action plans that are already under way.”

London Councils chairman Merrick Cockell (Con) said: “We are not talking about taking over hospitals or serious crime units, we are talking about local police and healthcare matters.”

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Service said councils taking part in the selection of borough commanders had “been raised as an option to consider for the future”, but no decisions had been made.

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