Why is Boris making 3 year appointments just a month before Londoners vote?

City Hall today announced the appointments to the board of the new London Legacy Development Corporation.

The terms of the appointments span a significant part of the next Mayoralty with five appointees expected to serve until 31 March 2015.

These include Sir Edward Lister, currently a Mayoral appointee at City Hall and whose job would come to an end if Boris ceased to be Mayor after the election.

Sir Edward is widely respected at City Hall and will bring great expertise and knowledge to the board but it’s possible any incoming Mayor would not want to leave in place someone so identified with the current regime.

It’s also possible given the insulting terms that one candidate used to describe Sir Edward, that he may not want to work under any other Mayor.

But having made a raft changes when he arrived at City Hall in 2008, it seems odd that Boris has appointed people on such long terms just weeks before an election.

By contrast, Deputy Mayor for Policing Kit Malthouse has deliberately held off of appointing an advisory board for the Mayor’s Office for Policing until after the election to ensure whoever is in his seat can shape the board to their particular wants.

When asked if Sir Edward’s continued participation was dependent on him remaining a GLA employee after the election and what right any incoming Mayor had to remove members, City Hall referred me to Schedule 21 of the Localism Act 2011 (and in particular paragraph 2(5)).  

“All the info on appointments to an MDC, how they might be terminated and so on, can be found (and interpreted) there,” a spokesman told me.

The relevant section states:

The Mayor may remove a member of an MDC if—

(a) the member has been absent from meetings of the MDC for more than 3 months without the permission of the MDC,
(b) the member has become bankrupt or has made an arrangement with the member’s creditors
(c) a debt relief order is made in respect of the member (see Part 7A of the Insolvency Act 1986) or the member is a person in respect of whom a debt relief restrictions order has effect (see Schedule 4ZB to that Act),
(d) the member has since being appointed ceased to be an elected member of a relevant London council and the Mayor wishes to appoint an elected member of that council to be a member of the MDC in the member’s place, or
(e) in the opinion of the Mayor, the member has failed to comply with the member’s terms of appointment or is otherwise unable, unfit or unsuitable to exercise the member’s functions as a member of the MDC.

none of which seem to offer a potential incoming Mayor much flexibility in changing the composition of the board.

City Hall tell me the final condition is the key, but this seems to require any new Mayor to unfairly and publicly find fault with someone who is working hard for Londoners if they want to remove them.

I have asked City Hall why the appointments were for such long periods rather than, for example, appointing members for 6-12 months. This would allow Boris to extend the terms if he’s re-elected while also allowing a successor to make changes more easily if not.

Update 2nd April: In a further response to my questions a GLA spokesperson says: “This is a critical phase in the planning for London’s Olympic legacy and over the coming weeks and months vital decisions for the future of the Park will need to be made.

“To give potential investors confidence, the Corporation must have a team in place with whom they know will be doing business with for the foreseeable future – which would not be possible if board appointments were only short term. The Localism Act gives any Mayor the clear power to remove any MDC board member who, in his or her opinion, is not suitable for the role. It also allows for a board member to resign simply by serving notice on the Mayor.”