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Pickles green lights new Boris powers

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Ministers have given the green light to devolve more powers over housing, regeneration and economic development to the Mayor of London.

The proposals, submitted to ministers by the Mayor of London and the London boroughs in July, will see Boris Johnson handed greater decision making powers over the city’s housing, regeneration, economic development and the Olympic legacy. The powers will be included within the Localism Bill to be published this month.

The package of new powers includes:

  • The devolution of executive powers over housing investment from the Homes & Communities Agency to the Greater London Authority (GLA)
  • The abolition of the London Development Agency, with its city-wide roles on regeneration and management of European funding to be transferred to the GLA
  • A new Mayoral Development Corporations to focus regeneration on delivering the Olympic legacy
  • Control over more major local planning decisions handed to boroughs
  • The streamlining of consultation on mayoral strategies to create a single environmental strategy

The London Assembly will also gain additional powers to reject the Mayor’s final strategies by a two-thirds majority, ministers said.

But plans to create one or more Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in the capital to replace the work of the LDA have yet to be finalised.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles said: “London is a democracy not a quangocracy and the Mayor has a clear electoral mandate from London voters so he should be at the head of the table.

“Instead of quango-itis stifling the pace of London’s progress its elected leaders will decide what housing and regeneration investment to make or what London’s Olympic legacy should be, all in a more open and transparent way than ever before.”

However, there was no confirmation of the Mayor’s proposal to divide the functions of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) between the mayor and the London Assembly, with the assembly taking on the scrutiny functions and the mayor taking on executive functions, creating a policing board for London.

The Department for Communities & Local Government said these proposals were being considered as part of wider Home Office reforms.

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