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The strategic leadership in London was boosted today, as key powers for the Greater London Authority - the Mayor of...
The strategic leadership in London was boosted today, as key powers for the Greater London Authority - the Mayor of London and London Assembly - were announced.

Local government secretary Ruth Kelly set out an enhanced package, covering new lead roles for the mayor on housing and adult skills in London; a strengthened role over planning in the capital; and additional strategic powers in a wide range of policy areas including waste, culture and sport, health, climate change and appointments to the boards of the functional bodies. The package also enhances the ability of the London Assembly to scrutinise the activities of the mayor.

Today's announcement follows a full consultation, launched in November 2005. The consultation stimulated a great deal of interest and debate about the future strategic governance of London, and the proposals unveiled today put into practice the government's policy to devolve power, wherever feasible, to the right level. Further options for devolution across England will be unveiled as part of the Local Government White Paper due to be published later this year.

Ms Kelly said:

'This government gave London back its governance in 2000 by creating a directly elected mayor for the city. And it has worked. Not everyone would agree with every decision made by the mayor but it has given clear, accountable leadership that has enhanced our democracy and brought decision-making closer to the people of London. This clear leadership was also a crucial part of London's success in winning the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

'That is why I believe it is right that we should now build on this success, and grant additional powers to further strengthen London leadership.

'We want to achieve the right balance of powers between national government, the Greater London Authority and the London boroughs, to ensure that London continues to hold its deserved position as a global city with a highly successful economy. Today's announcement makes good our commitment to devolving responsibilities to the most appropriate level, and I am confident that the new powers will help to improve further the quality of life for Londoners.

'We are devolving powers from Whitehall to London wherever feasible.

But in some specific cases, such as planning, we are strengthening the Mayor's powers in relation the boroughs where we believe a more strategic approach will deliver better co-ordination and delivery of services.

'The theme of devolution to our cities, towns, counties and neighbourhoods throughout England is one that I will develop further in the Local Government White Paper in the autumn.'

Minister for London, Jim Fitzpatrick, said:

'I believe this announcement is good news for London. The Greater London Authority has been a great success, providing strong clear leadership for the capital.

'This package provides the mayor and Assembly with powers to make a real difference - to meet the challenge of providing more homes for Londoners; a better skilled workforce; and a more strategic approach to planning in the capital.

'It is an exciting package which gives the Greater London Authority the tools to make London an even better place to live, work and visit.'

Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said:

'This announcement is welcome recognition of the successes already achieved through the mayoral system in London and provides the opportunity to build on this success and further improve the lives of Londoners.

'We have demonstrated - through neighbourhood policing, the success of congestion charging and the transformation of the buses - that city-wide London government works and that Londoners are directly benefiting.

'The additional powers granted to the office of mayor will enable us to tackle head-on the problems London faces - skills provision according to the capital's needs in the run-up to the Olympics and planning and housing powers which will help promote our city's global economic status and also deliver the vital affordable homes that Londoners need.'


1. The government's policy statement, an accompanying regulatory impact assessment and a summary of responses to the consultation are available here.

2. In summary, the mayor's new powers and roles are as follows:

a. Housing

* Responsibilities of the London Housing Board will transfer to the mayor

* The mayor will prepare and publish a statutory London Housing Strategy and a strategic Housing Investment Plan, setting out the priorities to meet the housing needs of all Londoners.

* The mayor will decide the broad distribution of the affordable housing part of the Regional Housing Pot in line with the strategy.

In short, the mayor will decide in broad terms how public money for new affordable housing will be spent.

b. Learning and Skills

* The mayor will have a statutory duty to promote skills in London and will chair a new London Skills and Employment Board, drawn from business and other key sectors.

* The mayor will prepare a new statutory Skills Strategy for London setting priorities and budgets.

c. Planning

* The Mayor will be able to direct changes to boroughs' programmes for the local development plans they produce.

* The Mayor will have a stronger say on whether draft local development plans are in general conformity to his London Plan.

* The Mayor will have the discretion to determine planning applications of strategic importance.

d. Waste

* The Mayor will lead a London-wide waste and recycling forum, working in collaboration with the boroughs to improve performance in waste management and recycling. The forum will manage a new London waste and recycling fund.

* London's waste authorities will be required to be in general conformity with the Mayors Municipal Waste Management Strategy, backed up by the Mayor's power of direction.

* The Mayor and Government will work together closely on the London component of the Waste Infrastructure programme.

* Stronger powers for the Mayor to determine strategic waste planning applications

* A requirement for the boroughs to act in general conformity with the Mayors Waste Strategy

e. Culture

* The Mayor should also appoint the Chairs and some board members of the Arts Council London, the London Regional Sports Board and Museums, Libraries and Archives London.

* The GLA should consult arts, sport and other cultural delivery bodies in the future development of the Mayor's Cultural Strategy and national and regional strategic cultural bodies should consult the GLA on their strategies, where there is a London impact.

f. Health

* The Mayor will prepare a strategy to tackle London's health inequalities and promote the reduction of health inequalities in London.

* The Regional Director for Public Health (RDPH) in London will act as Health Adviser to the Mayor and GLA Group.

g. Climate Change and Energy

* The Mayor will prepare and publish a statutory Climate Change and Energy Strategy for London, stating how the capital should minimise emissions of carbon dioxide by the use of energy in London, help to eradicate fuel poverty; and harness economic opportunities for London from investment and innovation in energy technologies and energy efficiency.

* He will also prepare and publish a statutory Climate Change Adaptation Strategy setting out how the capital should adapt to the effects of climate change.

* The GLA will be subject to a specific duty to take action to mitigate the effects of climate change and help London adapt to its unavoidable impacts.

h. Water

* The Secretary of State will have regard to the Mayor's Water Action Framework when framing guidance to regulators in preparation for a review of water price limits.

The package of changes in respect to functional bodies, and additional powers for the Mayor in appointing to the bodies' boards, are intended to give the Mayor greater freedom of choice and more influence over delivery. The key changes are:

* The Mayor will have the discretion to appoint political representatives to the TfL Board.

* The Mayor will either appoint the Chair of the MPA or assume the role of Chair himself.

* The Mayor will appoint two members of the LFEPA Board, and will be able to direct and issue guidance to the Authority.

3. The key changes in relation to the London Assembly are:

* The Assembly will be able to set its own budget and will publish an annual report setting out its work and achievements over the previous 12 months.

* The Assembly will be able to hold confirmation hearings for key appointments the Mayor proposes to make.

* The Mayor will be required to have specific regard to the views of the Assembly and the functional bodies in preparing or revising his strategies. He will need to provide reasoned justifications where he is not acting on their advice.

* The Mayor and Assembly will jointly appoint the Authority's statutory posts. Most other GLA staff will be appointed by the Head of Paid Service.

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