MayorWatch editor Martin Hoscik on the spat over police accountability in London, the stalled debate on London’s devolutionary settlement and the dangers of GLA abolition from a ‘do less’ mindset.
It seems some people are getting very excited about Boris Johnson’s appearance in front of the Commons Transport Committee, but while the media focus on yet another storm in a tea cup, I’m left wondering what Boris was doing there in the first place.
I was bemused by Boris’s claims in a press release confirming plans for the 2009 St George’s Day celebrations that the festival “has been ignored in London for far too long” given that the GLA marked the day in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008. It’s plain unseemly for Boris to mislead people on an issue of such sensitivity, it cheapens the GLA, it cheapens him and it plays into the hands of those who like to claim ‘the system’ favours those from non-British backgrounds.
We rail against chains of imported coffee shops and identikit high streets but no-one seems to care that councils are handing out late licences to takeaways which become rallying points for gangs of anti-social youths.
I’ve spent much of the past week ringing round PR agencies, almost begging them for any slivers of positive news and I’m pleased to say some happy stories are starting to trickle in. I’ve heard about an investment readiness programme for London firms (more on this in the coming weeks) and I’m hoping to sit in on one of their upcoming workshops and speak to some of the businesses benefiting from the advice on offer.
“More local powers”. The cry goes up (yet again). A scattergun of ideal world “why oh why” pieces in national and London newspapers last week, made form (of a sort) by the Tories. But it can’t happen, says former London Assembly Member Damian Hockney. Not really, not in the way people are being encouraged to think it can: “Don’t the politicians and commentators know where the real powers have gone? Or is it just another cynical political exercise,” he says. “They should at least tell us when they are proposing a policy which would break the law.”
You won’t find it mentioned on the GLA or TfL’s websites, but Boris Johnson is apparently prepared to give up one of the few powers he has, namely the ability through TfL to determine the amount the boroughs must pay for the Freedom Pass.
The full extent of armed crime in London and the efforts of the Met’s C019 officers to tackle it are explored in a shocking new two-part ITV documentary, In the Line of Fire, which starts tomorrow night (Tuesday 10th February).