This is the news that might have some impact on transport and political issues in the capital:
The former Conservative Leader on the Greater London Assembly (GLA), Gareth Bacon, has been elected as a Member of Parliament for Orpington and hence is stepping down from the GLA. He was forceful in challenging the Mayor on his policies. The new Conservative Leader will be Susan Hall who from following her on twitter and meeting with her, I judge should be just as forceful if not better. See https://www.glaconservatives.co.uk/susan-hall.html for more information.
Because Boris Johnson has opened a new Parliament, he has made changes to some ministerial appointments. Included in that is the appointment of Chris Philp, MP for Croydon South, as Minister for London – that’s in addition to his role at the Ministry of Justice. This is what he had to say in the Evening Standard:
“Londoners are sick of Sadiq blaming others for his failure to deliver — there is no excuse for housing starts in London falling at a time when they have been rising in the rest of the UK and when billions of pounds of public money have been provided for housing.
I am deeply concerned at the delays and cost over-runs on Crossrail and of course we all need to work together to clamp down hard on knife crime, as well as its underlying causes.”
Mr Philp described himself as a “Londoner born and bred” in the article and added: “With more than 300 languages spoken in London alone, it’s bursting with diversity which we must embrace.”
Sadiq Khan has already accused him of having an “aggressively partisan attitude” so that should get him off on the wrong foot with the new Minister which he needs to persuade if his plans are to get anywhere. That includes more money for London which he has been asking for, particularly for transport, when the national Government policy might now be just the opposite with more money going to the North as a reward for voting Conservative. He also wants to grab more power in a number of areas which I doubt the new Government will be keen upon. Sadiq Khan is like a lot of Labour politicians in that he thinks more money is always the answer when in fact mismanagement of his budget is the real problem. More information on Chris Philp is present here: https://www.chrisphilp.com/about-chris/
Now that we have a Conservative Government with the ability to put through legislation without endless debate we might even see a reform of the GLA and the Mayor’s role which are both sorely needed. That would be rather like Mrs Thatcher putting Ken Livingstone out of business by disbanding the Greater London Council (GLC) in 1986. Unfortunately the Labour Party put in the current structure of a directly elected Mayor and the GLA (which is purely a talking shop) in 2000. Reform is sorely needed as the Mayor is unaccountable to anyone and acts like a dictator. His transport policies are destroying London and imposing enormous costs on the public – for example he has just announced a rise in the GLA precept in Londoner’s Council Taxes. Financially his regime is a disaster and crime is totally out of control.
London does not need populist Mayors such as Ken Livingstone or Sadiq Khan who simply seem to want to ensure they get re-elected. We need someone with both management and financial experience, which incidentally Chris Philp certainly has from my contact with him on financial issues. He should be a good Minister for London as he has always appeared to me to be highly intelligent.
Other London news that was widely reported was that the City of London is pushing ahead with a scheme to close Beech Street to all vehicles other than zero emission ones. This would apply for all hours for all days from next April, and to all vehicles with a few exceptions. Beech Street runs under the Barbican and has very high pollution as it is effectively a tunnel with no ventilation. The City Corporation is also proposing to put in later two zero emission zones around the Barbican estate and north of Fenchurch Street.
One thing the new London Minister might care to look at is stopping London boroughs and the Major or London from introducing regulations and taxes which are contrary to national regulations without his consent. The Beech Street restriction is unnecessary, unreasonable and the minor air pollution problem in that road could have been solved by other means.
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