Politics of London

This article is about administrative body formed in 2000. For the similar body that existed until 1986, see Greater London Council.
Greater London Authority
Type
Type Local authority of the Greater London
Leadership
Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Conservative
Since May 2008
Deputy Mayor of London Victoria Borwick, Conservative
Since May 2012
Chair of the London Assembly Darren Johnson, Green
Since May 2013
Deputy Chair of the London Assembly Roger Evans, Conservative
Since May 2013
Seats 25 assembly members
Elections
Mayor of London Voting system Supplementary vote
London Assembly Voting system Additional member
Mayor of London Last election May 2012
London Assembly Last election May 2012
Meeting place
City Hall, Southwark, London
Website
http://www.london.gov.uk
British politics portal

The Greater London Authority (GLA) is the top-tier administrative body for Greater London, England. It consists of a directly elected executive Mayor of London, currently Boris Johnson, and an elected 25-member London Assembly with scrutiny powers. The authority was established in 2000, following a local referendum, and derives most of its powers from the Greater London Authority Act 1999 and the Greater London Authority Act 2007.

It is a strategic regional authority, with powers over transport, policing, economic development, and fire and emergency planning. Three functional bodies — Transport for London, the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime, and London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority — are responsible for delivery of services in these areas. The planning policies of the Mayor of London are detailed in a statutory London Plan that is regularly updated and published.

The Greater London Authority is mostly funded by direct government grant and it is also a precepting authority, with some money collected with local Council Tax. The GLA is unique in the British local government system, in terms of structure, elections and selection of powers. The authority was established to replace a range of joint boards and quangos and provided an elected upper tier of local government in London for the first time since the abolition of the Greater London Council in 1986.

Purpose

The GLA is responsible for the strategic administration of the 1579 km² (610 sq. miles) of Greater London. It shares local government powers with the councils of 32 London boroughs and the City of London Corporation. It was created to improve the coordination between the local authorities in Greater London, and the Mayor of London's role is to give London a single person to represent it. The Mayor proposes policy and the GLA's budget, and makes appointments to the capital's strategic executive such as Transport for London and the London Development Agency. The primary purposes of the London Assembly is to hold the Mayor of London to account by scrutiny of his or her actions and decisions. The assembly must also accept or amend the Mayor's budget on an annual basis.[1] The GLA is based at City Hall, a new building on the south bank of the River Thames, next to Tower Bridge.

The GLA is different from the Corporation of the City of London with its largely ceremonial Lord Mayors, which controls only the Square Mile of the City, London's chief financial centre.

Background

In 1986, the Greater London Council was abolished by the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher. Many people have surmised that the decision to abolish the GLC was made because of the existence of a high-spending left-wing Labour administration under Ken Livingstone, although pressure for the abolition of the GLC had arisen before Mr Livingstone took over, and was largely driven by the belief among the outer London Borough councils that they could perform the functions of the GLC just as well.

On abolition, the strategic functions of the GLC transferred to bodies controlled by central government or joint boards nominated by the London Borough councils. Some of the service delivery functions were transferred down to the councils themselves. For the next 14 years there was no single elected body for the whole of London. The Labour Party never supported the abolition of the GLC and made it a policy to re-establish some form of city-wide elected authority.

Creation

The Labour party adopted a policy of a single, directly elected Mayor (a policy first suggested by Tony Banks in 1990), together with an elected Assembly watching over the Mayor; this model, based on American cities, was partly aimed at making sure the new body resembles the erstwhile GLC as little as possible. After the Labour party won the 1997 general election, the policy was outlined in a White paper entitled A Mayor and Assembly for London (March 1998).

Simultaneously with the elections to the London Borough councils, a referendum was held on the establishment of the GLA in May 1998, which was approved with 72% of the vote. The Greater London Authority Act 1999 passed through Parliament, receiving the Royal Assent in October 1999. In a controversial election campaign, the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, attempted to block Livingstone's nomination and imposed his own candidate. In reaction, Livingstone stood as an independent candidate, resulting in his expulsion from the Labour Party and in March 2000, was elected as Mayor of London. Following an interim period in which the Mayor and Assembly had been elected but had no powers, the GLA was formally established on 3 July 2000.

Powers and functions

Functional bodies

Areas which the GLA has responsibility for include transport, policing, fire and rescue, development and strategic planning. The GLA does not directly provide any services itself. Instead, its work is carried out by four functional bodies, which come under the GLA umbrella, and work under the policy direction of the Mayor and Assembly. These functional bodies are:

The London Development Agency (LDA) was responsible for development across London but was wound up and revested within the GLA itself in March 2012 under the Localism Act 2011. Some of its residual tasks and functions (particularly on former 2012 Olympic Games sites, for which it acted as land assembly agency) are now carried out by the London Legacy Development Corporation.

In November 2005, the government published a consultation document reviewing the powers of the GLA, making proposals for additional powers, including waste management, planning, housing, and learning and skills.[3][4] The result of the consultation and final proposals were published by the Department for Communities and Local Government on 13 July 2006.[5]

Planning

The GLA is responsible for coordinating land use planning in Greater London. The mayor produces a strategic plan, the "London Plan". The individual London Borough councils are legally bound to comply with the plan. The mayor has the power to over-ride planning decisions made by the London Boroughs if they are believed to be against the interests of London as a whole.

Energy policy

As of 2006, London generates 42 million tonnes of carbon emissions, 7% of the UK's total. 44% of this comes from housing, 28% from commercial premises, 21% from transport, and 7% from industry.[6]

The Mayor's energy strategy[7] plans to cut carbon emission levels by 20% by 2010 and 60% by 2050 (although achieving the first of these targets is unlikely). Measures taken to achieve this have included the creation of the London Climate Change Agency, the London Energy Partnership[8] and the founding of the international Large Cities Climate Leadership Group.

The London Sustainable Development Commission[9] has calculated that for housing to meet the 60% target, all new developments would have to be constructed to be carbon-neutral with immediate effect (using zero energy building techniques), in addition to cutting energy used in existing housing by 40%.

Political control

After the 2012 elections, Labour has the largest representation on the Assembly (twelve members), followed by nine from the Conservatives, two Liberal Democrats, and two Greens [10]

Elections

See also

References

External links

  • The GLA's website
  • About the GLA - Website detailing the powers of the GLA
  • Greater London Authority Review, 2005-06 - House of Commons Library Standard Note
  • - Referendum Results
  • Citymayors.com profile page on GLA history
  • MayorWatch.co.uk Independent guide to London Government
  • London Under Livingstone - The Bow Group report into the Mayor)

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