“I think there’s more the Assembly could do, good in-depth stuff rather than political point scoring. The objective of [the 7/7] report was to improve the issues for Londoners and I think we need to rise above the ‘was the Piccadilly line late again?’ type issues which could be dealt with in a phone call and get into the real issues.”
Wise words from one of the true big beasts of City Hall and worth reviewing in a week when London has come under sustained attack from within its own communities.
So where is the Assembly ?
There’s a danger the Assembly will miss an important chance to be of real relevance to Londoners. For those of us who’d like to see it take a bigger role in the governance of the capital, this would be a real tragedy.
Questions need to be asked of the blue light services, especially the police, about their responses and the assistance they need in the days ahead.
The Mayor too has questions to answer both about the initiatives he’ll be pursuing and his policy of cutting police numbers while protesting government cuts should be scrapped.
If 600-plus MPs can be summoned to Westminster, why have the 25 Assembly Members not been bussed in to City Hall to ask these questions?
It’s a question even some AMs are asking. Labour’s Murad Qureshi tells me: “The Mayor’s in town, the Met is accountable to us and if we’re to be relevant to Londoners we need to do this.”
It may not have been appropriate for AMs to meet this week – the Mayor, the Met and other emergency services clearly have important work to do even as levels of disorder plummet.
But if they don’t meet next week they risk validating the claims of critics (and at least one Tory AM) that the Assembly is an irrelevant talking shop which simply soaks up public cash.
Update: From within City Hall I hear concerns of ‘not getting in the way’ and distracting from the job to be done.
The Chair does have the power to call an extraordinary meeting but AMs can only invite, not compel, the Mayor to attend as the GLA Act gives them no power to summons him.
Green Party AM Jenny Jones tells me “we should hold an emergency Mayor’s Question Time…it’s our job, holidays or not.”
While AMs can’t compel he Mayor to attend a regular meeting, he does have to appear before them for Mayor’s Question Time though the law only requires him to do this ten times a year.
PS: The case for an emergency Assembly meeting is strengthened by Ross Lydall’s revelation that there are too few Metropolitan Police Authority members available to hold a meeting of the capital’s policing watchdog.