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Boris in bid to grab more power from Whitehall for London

PUBLISHED: 19:04 15 June 2010 | UPDATED: 16:09 05 October 2010

BORIS Johnson has set out plans today for more devolution’ powers which could bring health care and the River Thames under his control and a new police board for London.’ It would keep the Whitehall mandarins at bay and give more authority to City Hall

By Mike Brooke

BORIS Johnson has set out his plans today for more devolution’ powers which could bring health care and the River Thames under his control and a new police board for London.’

It would keep the Whitehall mandarins at bay and give more authority to City Hall, something the London Assembly has been pressing for after criticism that it has blunt teeth.

The Mayor was addressing the first London Congress of local authority leaders since the May 6 elections when he presented his plans for greater say over London issues, in response to Downing Street’s decision to dismantle the Government Office for London immediately.

“We must seize the day with a reshaped GLA and devolution of Whitehall functions to City Hall,” Boris told the congress. “It is time to act, with a new coalition Government supporting devolving powers.”

The Mayor’s proposals, if legislation goes through, would see the London region of the Homes & Communities Agency and the functions of the London Development Agency given to a re-toothed’ GLA.

There are seven bodies at present involved regeneration of the Lower Lea Valley in East London where the 2012 Olympics are being staged, which Boris believes is duplication. The Olympic Legacy Company would be turned into a City Hall development corporation, reporting directly to the Mayor and accountable to the Assembly.

He wants responsibility for the Royal Parks Agency and Port of London Authority under his belt, greater powers over traffic control and even awarding rail franchises on lines into London.

“London is one of the few genuine world cities’ with more people than many EU states, with an economy to match,” he said.

“Its population is as large as Wales and Scotland combined, yet the Mayoralty has few formal powers—this will no longer do.

“Too much is controlled by Whitehall and measured by standards that don’t apply specifically to Londoners. Our devolution has remained weak.”

Other proposals Boris has put forward today include City Hall having greater say in health provision and a new policing board’ with the Met Police Authority split between the Mayor taking over executive duties and the Assembly taking on scrutiny functions.


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