The first ever Mayor’s Question Time session was held on May 24th 2000, on the 10th anniversary of the meeting we present an ‘on this day’ article looking back at the meeting from the perspective of the time.
Ken Livingstone, London’s newly elected Mayor, appeared before the London Assembly today for the first Mayor’s Question Time session, a monthly event at which the Mayor will update Assembly Members (AMs) on his actions and face questions on the policies and decisions of his administration.
Citing her “wide experience of London government”, Mr Livingstone informed the meeting of his decision to appoint Labour AM Nicky Gavron as Deputy Mayor “for the first year” of his term in office as well to the role of adviser on planning issues.
Livingstone announced three further appointments to his ‘cabinet’ of advisors – Green Party AM Darren Johnson will advise on environmental issues and Liberal Democrat AM Graham Tope will advise on equalities and human rights issues. As reported last week, the Corporation of London’s Judith Mayhew will advise the Mayor on business and the City. The first full meeting of the Mayor’s ‘cabinet’ has been announced for June 20th.
AMs were advised that Labour Peer and Assembly Member Toby Harris has been recommended by Livingstone to serve as Chair of the capital’s new police authority and that consultations are underway on membership of the Greater London Authority’s “functional bodies” including Transport for London and the fire authority.
The Mayor also confirmed that he has agreed to increase the numbers of staff available to each Assembly Member to two with an additional assistant being made available to each of the four party groups sitting on the Assembly, and that the Authority’s press office will work for the Assembly as well as the Mayor.
Livingstone also announced that he has met with the head of Ford UK to try and “persuade Ford to reverse” their decision to close the firm’s Dagenham facility.
In response to a motion agreed at the London Assembly’s meeting on May 12th, Livingstone has agreed to share advice and information provided to him with AMs in the interests of “open and accessible government”.
During the meeting Assembly Members quizzed Livingstone on his flagship policy of introducing a congestion charge with Conservative AM Bob Neill questioning the fairness of a charge which did not take account of the ability to pay. In response Mr Livingstone indicated that he would try and build a “public consensus” in favour of the charge.
He later told Neill’s colleague Andrew pelling that the introduction of the congestion charge was the biggest issue facing the new Authority and predicted that if successfully implemented it could become a model for such schemes around the world.
In response to a question from Labour’s John Biggs, Livingstone said he was still in discussions with officials about the structure of the board of Transport for London, the capital’s new transport authority which the Mayor gains control of on July 3rd. The Mayor also told Biggs he would continue to use public transport and would not be purchasing a “Mayoral car”.