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'FLAWED APPROACH TO LONDON DEVOLUTION'

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The government's announcement on changing the powers and responsibilities of the Greater London Authority is flawed...
The government's announcement on changing the powers and responsibilities of the Greater London Authority is flawed and inconsistent. It represents a pick and mix approach to governance in the capital, rather than adopting a cohesive blueprint for the future, according to the chairman of the London Assembly.

The proposals extract planning powers from London boroughs, leaving local people more remote from important decisions that could change the face of their neighbourhoods. This undermines the welcome move towards further devolution in areas like housing and skills where decision-making is being moved to a more appropriate local level.

Ministers have also ignored the need for proper checks and balances on the exercise of the mayor's powers. Weakening the assembly's oversight role reduces the GLA's democratic legitimacy, integrity and openness.

London Assembly chairman Brian Coleman said: 'Relinquishing responsibility from Whitehall to City Hall with one hand, whilst snatching power away from London's boroughs with the other, is scarcely a consistent approach to devolution.'

Deputy chair Sally Hamwee commented: 'The government specifically acknowledges the value of what the Assembly has done, and is extending its powers. The government clearly recognizes the importance of holding the Mayor to account in the public arena. It has given a vote of confidence in the power of effective scrutiny.'

Notes

The assembly will debate the review of powers announcement at its meeting on 19 July.

On January 18 2006 the London Assembly unanimously adopted ten core principles to guide its response to the proposals. They are (in summary) that:

a. The London Assembly is integral to the operation of the Greater London Authority;

b. Good governance arrangements must last for the long term;

c. Additional powers for the GLA should come from central government; not by extraction from local government;

d. Accountability is achieved through a balance of powers;

e. Accordingly, the assembly must be able to exercise effective budgetary scrutiny powers;

f. And have powers to undertake effective scrutiny of mayoral strategies;

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