Mayoral scrutiny ‘let down by London Assembly’

A thinktank says council leaders, not the London Assembly, are best equipped to deal with the next mayor of London – whoever that may be.

On May 1st Londoners vote to decide whether incumbent Ken Livingstone or Conservative challenger Boris Johnson will spend the next four years in City Hall.

The building is also home to the London Assembly, which – according to the New Local Government Network (NLGN) thinktank – should be replaced because of its “ineffective” nature.

It argues scrapping the Assembly would save £6.6 million every year – enough to put 165 additional police officers on London’s streets.

The NLGN’s report, Glad to be GLA? Making London Governance More Accountable, argues Assembly members do not do enough to justify their existence and calls for the representative body’s replacement by a London Leaders’ Council.

“Members of the London Assembly are, by and large, hard-working and committed,” report author James Hulme says.

“The crux of the problem is that, put simply, members simply don’t have enough to do to justify full-time engagement and as a result they may be spending time compiling superfluous investigations and reports that generally have little impact on the work of the London mayor or help to inform its wider politics.”

Mr Hulme believes handing the leaders’ council approving powers over the mayor’s Budget and requiring an absolute majority for agreement would ultimately make the mayor’s decisions more reflective of the city’s wider interests.

“Through day-today interaction with their local communities, borough leaders would be best placed to offer first-hand guidance on the views and aspirations of ordinary Londoners,” he added.