Headlines: April 25th, 2008

The Greater London Assembly does not provide effective scrutiny of the London Mayor and should be scrapped. In calling for its abolition, the New Local Government Network argues that scrutinising the work of the Mayor does not require 25 full-time elected politicians and that much of their work is spent compiling reports and investigations that have little impact. It suggests that other London politicians could do the job more effectively.

The Greater London Assembly was set up in 2000. Assembly Members are elected for four year full-time posts and receive an annual salary of 50,581 pounds. The 2008 Mayoral budget has allocated 8.7 million pounds to run the London Assembly, with 7.1 million pounds ear-marked for the running of services to Assembly Members. Abolishing the Assembly would save 6.6 million pounds, enough to put an extra 165 police officers on London’s streets or to give its 6,000 homeless people a 250 pounds grant to use as a rental deposit on a property.

The thinktank instead argues that the London Mayor should be scrutinised by a London Leaders’ Council (LLC), consisting of the 32 elected council leaders in Greater London. Allowing council leaders a scrutiny role would enable them to make the Mayor more accountable to ordinary Londoners. The LLC would have the power to approve or amend the Mayor’s budget. Crucially, the budget could only be passed by a clear majority of council leaders in both inner and outer London, in order to ensure that the Mayor took into account the needs of all parts of the Capital. The LLC would also have scrutiny over the London Development Agency, Metropolitan Police and Transport for London.

To replace the policy making aspect of Assembly Members’, the think tank argues that the House of Commons should set up a London Regional Select Committee of London MPs to investigate the work and policies of the London Mayor. London is currently the only area in England without a Regional Select Committee.