Headlines: March 27th, 1998

The White Paper setting out the Government’s proposals for the Mayor and 25 member Greater London Authority has been unveiled by deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. He described a radical institution that would give London the means to solve its problems and maximise its potential. If the Referendum on 7 May produces a ‘Yes’ vote from the 5 million voters the new Mayor will take up office in 2000.The role envisaged for the Mayor is spokesperson for the whole of London; planner, taking a broad overview and co-ordinator making London organisations more effective. The new authority would take responsibility for spending on police, fire, transport, economic development, the environment and planning. It would be given control of the current budget £3.3b. The Mayor would initiate proposals and the assembly would scrutinise them. There will also be a new London Development Agency to implement the Mayor’s economic and regeneration strategy. Similar agencies are due to be established in all regions of the UK and they are part of an overall plan leading to a form of regional government.

It is envisaged that the Mayor would operate in a presidential style and this would have a considerable impact on the political scene. Party politics would be weakened and community groups would have greater influence.

The annual cost of the proposals would be £20m, most of which would be met by central government. Londoners would contribute about 3p per week on a Band D council tax bill. In addition the set-up cost of £20m would also be met by central government.

The White Paper can be seen on the Internet at www.london-decides.gove.uk/ The site also has details of the Referendum.