The Greater London Authority is to get greater powers following an announcement by Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
The powers granted to the Authority under the 1999 Greater London Authority Act were severely limited, restricting the GLA’s responsibilities to promoting economic development and wealth creation, social development and promoting the improvement of the environment in Greater London.
However under today’s announcement the Mayor will gain new powers in eight key areas:
- Responsibilities of the London Housing Board will transfer to the Mayor
- The Mayor will prepare and publish a statutory London Housing Strategy and a strategic Housing Investment Plan, setting out the priorities to meet the housing needs of all Londoners.
- The Mayor will decide the broad distribution of the affordable housing part of the Regional Housing Pot in line with the strategy. In short, the Mayor will decide in broad terms how public money for new affordable housing will be spent.
Learning and Skills
- The Mayor will have a statutory duty to promote skills in London and will chair a new London Skills and Employment Board, drawn from business and other key sectors.
- The Mayor will prepare a new statutory Skills Strategy for London setting priorities and budgets.
- The Mayor will be able to direct changes to boroughs’ programmes for the local development plans they produce.
- The Mayor will have a stronger say on whether draft local development plans are in general conformity to his London Plan.
- The Mayor will have the discretion to determine planning applications of strategic importance.
- The Mayor will lead a London-wide waste and recycling forum, working in collaboration with the boroughs to improve performance in waste management and recycling. The forum will manage a new London waste and recycling fund.
- London’s waste authorities will be required to be in general conformity with the Mayors Municipal Waste Management Strategy, backed up by the Mayor’s power of direction.
- The Mayor and Government will work together closely on the London component of the Waste Infrastructure programme.
- Stronger powers for the Mayor to determine strategic waste planning applications
- A requirement for the boroughs to act in general conformity with the Mayors Waste Strategy
- The Mayor should also appoint the Chairs and some board members of the Arts Council London, the London Regional Sports Board and Museums, Libraries and Archives London.
- The GLA should consult arts, sport and other cultural delivery bodies in the future development of the Mayor’s Cultural Strategy and national and regional strategic cultural bodies should consult the GLA on their strategies, where there is a London impact.
- The Mayor will prepare a strategy to tackle London’s health inequalities and promote the reduction of health inequalities in London.
- The Regional Director for Public Health (RDPH) in London will act as Health Adviser to the Mayor and GLA Group.
Climate Change and Energy
- The Mayor will prepare and publish a statutory Climate Change and Energy Strategy for London, stating how the capital should minimise emissions of carbon dioxide by the use of energy in London, help to eradicate fuel poverty; and harness economic opportunities for London from investment and innovation in energy technologies and energy efficiency.
- He will also prepare and publish a statutory Climate Change Adaptation Strategy setting out how the capital should adapt to the effects of climate change.
- The GLA will be subject to a specific duty to take action to mitigate the effects of climate change and help London adapt to its unavoidable impacts.
- The Secretary of State will have regard to the Mayor’s Water Action Framework when framing guidance to regulators in preparation for a review of water price limits.
Bodies and Appointments
- The Mayor will have the discretion to appoint political representatives to the TfL Board.
- The Mayor will either appoint the Chair of the MPA or assume the role of Chair himself.
- The Mayor will appoint two members of the LFEPA Board, and will be able to direct and issue guidance to the Authority.
Announcing the package of enhanced powers Mrs Kelly said Government wanted “to achieve the right balance of powers between national government, the Greater London Authority and the London boroughs, to ensure that London continues to hold its deserved position as a global city with a highly successful economy. Today’s announcement makes good our commitment to devolving responsibilities to the most appropriate level, and I am confident that the new powers will help to improve further the quality of life for Londoners.”
Welcoming the announcement Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, said: “This announcement is welcome recognition of the successes already achieved through the mayoral system in London and provides the opportunity to build on this success and further improve the lives of Londoners.
There are also increased powers for the London Assembly including:
- The Assembly will be able to set its own budget and will publish an annual report setting out its work and achievements over the previous twelve months.
- The Assembly will be able to hold confirmation hearings for key appointments the Mayor proposes to make.
- The Mayor will be required to have specific regard to the views of the Assembly and the functional bodies in preparing or revising his strategies. He will need to provide reasoned justifications where he is not acting on their advice.
- The Mayor and Assembly will jointly appoint the Authority’s statutory posts. Most other GLA staff will be appointed by the Head of Paid Service.
The new powers follow a review launched in November 2005 by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Following the abolition of the ODPM earlier this year responsibility passed to the new Department for Communities and Local Government.