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NOT DEVOLUTION BUT 'THIEVEOLUTION' SAY TORIES

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Leader of the London Conservatives, Angie Bray, has spoken out in criticism of the new powers* granted to the Mayor...
Leader of the London Conservatives, Angie Bray, has spoken out in criticism of the new powers* granted to the Mayor, Ken Livingstone, describing them as having the potential to widen the democratic deficit in London.

Ms Bray said:

'By this systematic leeching of powers from the boroughs, we are in danger of creating a democratic deficit across London. This undermining of local accountability, is distancing people from having a real say in their communities, and does little apart from augment the Mayors vision of possessing an unchallenged sovereignty across London. '

' This is not devolution, but 'thieveolution', little more than a smash and grab raid on Borough power. This is confounded by the failure to grant the London Assembly the necessary extra powers to do their scrutiny job to the best of their ability.'

The Conservatives have criticised plans to give Ken Livingstone sweeping new powers including planning, housing and learning & skills. The extra powers are unprecedented because, unlike in other devolved bodies, the London Assembly will be given few extra powers to scrutinise the mayor.

Many of the powers have been centralised from the boroughs rather than devolved down from central government.

The extra powers announced for the mayor are:

* Housing - Responsibility for the London Housing Board will be transferred to the mayor. He will also decide how the affordable housing budget is spent.

* Learning and Skills - the mayor will chair a new London skills and employment board.

* Planning - Can direct changed to boroughs local development plans. He can grant planning permission if he deems them to be of strategic importance.

* Waste - The mayor will lead a London wide waste and recycling forum, managing the fund. He will have planning power over strategic waste applications.

* Culture - Appoints the chairs and some board members of the Art Council London, The London Regional Sports Board, Museums, Libraries and Archive London.

* Health - He will prepare a strategy for public health in London.

* Climate Change and Energy - He must produce a strategy.

* Water - He will have a say in water prices.

* Appointments - The mayor will have the power to appoint political representatives to the TfL board, appoint the chair of the MPA (or be chairman himself), he can also appoint to members of the LFEPA Board.

Ms Bray said:

'Is there no end to this mans reach into our lives. Ken Livingstone is increasingly becoming the unaccountable, elected dictator of London. This is an unprecedented situation, not only are we granting power to Livingstone without putting any accountability in the situation but we are also centralising some powers away from local councillors. This is a one way ticket upwards, with no devolution downwards, the best governance is always delivered closest to the people.'

Commenting on the new planning powers granted to the mayor, Tony Arbour, London Assembly Conservative planning spokesman said:

'He is now a one man planning authority in London. He has the powers to direct both consent and refusal of planning applications which he considers strategic irrespective of the views of the boroughs and those most directly affected by the proposals. In short this is a planning power grab from local communities!'

* DCLG DEVOLUTION AGENDA PUSHED FORWARD WITH NEW POWERS FOR LONDON

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