Monday, January 29, 2007

Rearranging the Deck Chairs

This unusual suggestion from a Labour member was obviously not cleared by the Mayor, who dismisses it fairly casually.

Murad Qureshi: I welcome TfL's plans to change the name of Shepherds Bush Station on the Hammersmith & City Line to Shepherds Bush Market. Should not TfL consider a similar change for Edgware Road Station on the Bakerloo Line to Edgware Road Market, to revitalise Church Street Market?

Ken Livingstone: London Underground has the opportunity to change the name of Shepherd's Bush, Hammersmith & City line station because the introduction of the new station at Wood Lane means that all maps, signage and publicity incorporating the Hammersmith & City line must be changed. This means that there will be no additional cost arising to LU.

Any other station name changes would not be justified given the substantial costs that would be incurred.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

St Patrick's Day Sponsorship

The costs for this year are revealed in this question from sally Hamwee.

Sally Hamwee: Why has the target for sponsorship of the St Patrick's Day events been set at £96,000 when last year £148,000 was raised from non GLA family sponsorship and the year before that £121,500?

Ken Livingstone: £96K is the minimum sponsorship target detailed in MAF 2845 required to deliver the core festival. The sponsorship team is working to exceed this amount to the level achieved in previous years, to enable an enhanced event should this be reached.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Dog End Threat to City Hall

This slightly unusual missive was circulated in recent days:

Staff are reminded that smoking is not permitted inside City Hall or in the immediate vicinity, including the entrance areas. If you do smoke, please dispose of your cigarette ends properly. Some People are stubbing out their cigarettes on the external window seals and this is damaging the building.

More respect please...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Back to the GLC

The CND / Stop The War reception before Christmas got little coverage but is typical of the sort of things that go on around here...

Sally Hamwee: How has the list of guests for the reception which you are hosting jointly with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Stop The War Coalition on December 13th been compiled? What is the purpose behind the reception?

Ken Livingstone: The guest list for the Peace Reception was compiled by my Office, with particular attention to those involved in promoting peace. The purpose of the reception is to promote the positive benefits of peace for London and highlight the negative impacts that war and terrorism have on London's economy.

Clearly a Conservative Mayor could make immediate council tax savings by cutting this type of activity.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pigeon Control the German Way

According to a question from the Green group:

Darren Johnson: Have you given consideration to the pigeon control method used by Augsburg City Council which consists of providing pigeon lofts for the city's pigeons and controlling population levels by replacing eggs with dummies (whilst discouraging feeding by the public?). Given the success of this scheme in reducing pigeon populations locally, might it be employed in parts of London, such as Trafalgar Square?

Ken Livingstone: Yes, but the ideas were rejected for a number of reasons including cost and the lack of long term effectiveness.

The measures taken by the Authority has resulted in the pigeon population of Trafalgar Square being the lowest since the Authority became responsible for the square in 2000. The byelaw being introduced by Westminster City Council will mean consistent enforcement across the whole of the square and even greater reductions in the current population.

So affordable housing for pigeons is off the agenda for now...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Musical Chairs at City Hall

News in the latest 'London at Work' bulletin, of a proposed review of occupancy.

Over the next few weeks Facilities Management will be undertaking an observation exercise to monitor the use an occupancy rates on all floors at City Hall. You may also notice that markers are temporarily affixed to some desks. This should not cause disturbance to your work and please do not alter your usual working routine. Meeting rooms without windows will require the observer to knock on the door and interrupt very briefly to check occupancy.

With the extra powers the Mayor is seeking will come extra staff and finding space for them in the building will present an interesting challenge.

Monday, January 15, 2007

More Opinion Polls

The Londoner often claims overwhelming statistical support for the Mayor's policies. Some details of the latest poll costs are revealed at December's question time.

Angie Bray: It is reported in the December issue of the Londoner that according to a IPSOS / MORI poll, "8 out of 10 Londoners support 50% affordable housing in London." Did your office commission this poll? If so, what was the cost?

Ken Livingstone: Yes. The cost of the survey was £11,860 excluding VAT.

Money well spent then....

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Mayor Knows Best

Livingstone explains his approach to local democracy:

Tony Arbour: Why do you think that local authorities are unable to make decisions on strategic planning applications which will affect local people with whom the local authority has more contact and has a clearer understanding of local needs?

Ken Livingstone: Because they too often ignore London Plan policies or misinterpret them.

Not much room for discussion there. But what if the strategic London Plan is unsuitable for large parts of the city? North and South London are very different places. Hampstead is not much like Havering. Very different communities exist alongside each other and that is part of London's unique culture.

This does not bode well for the impending widening of the Mayor's planning powers.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Music On Buses

Update from December's Question Time.

Roger Evans: You announced on 23rd November 2006 that you would withdraw the free travel concession from anyone who played loud music from mobile phones on buses, can you provide the Assembly with a timescale as to when this provision can be incorporated into the Behaviour Code, and can you detail to the Assembly what measures you will be taking to effectively publicise this?

Ken Livingstone: TfL is considering how to tackle the playing of music out loud in the Behaviour Code. In the meantime, TfL are focussing their attention on:

Discussions with the Department for Transport, to allow PCSOs also to enforce the Public Service Vehicle Regulations which prohibit the playing of music on buses.

Continuing the development of a campaign to reduce anti social behaviour and crime. This will include the playing of music out loud on public transport.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


To the new Conservative administration at Hammersmith & Fulham Council, who have managed to deliver a 3% council tax cut, despite a prevailing culture that bills must always go up. A nice contrast with the recent fares increases and, no doubt, the precept increase that Livingstone has planned...

Cllr Harry Phibbs says: Roger, I wondered if you might care to post an item on this on your excellent blog...

My pleasure, sir - and I hope that other councils will be beating a path to your door so they can learn how to save their resident's money.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Spending a Penny

A constituency issue, from the December question time - but I understand the problem is quite widespread:

Roger Evans: It was reported in the Romford Recorder of 10th November, that residents are complaining of drivers on the 256 route using the garages in Fairlop Close to urinate. Understandably, residents see this as disgusting and offensive. What measures are you taking to ensure drivers do not do this, and have you ensured that there are suitable facilities for drivers on this route?

Ken Livingstone: I agree this is not acceptable, as does TfL.

TfL has purchased land on Suttons Lane, Hornchurch, with the intention of developing a well lit bus stand with toilet facilities. However, some further land is needed and TfL is in discussions with the local NHS to purchase the required extra land. Once available, TfL will submit a planning application to develop the site.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year - New Londoner

Same old propaganda though...

Highlights of January's edition include:

Olympics Guarantee: No Council Tax Rise

Price Freeze: Single pay-as-you-go Oyster Tube fares stay at 2006 rates

Metronet guilty of 'inexcusable failures'

Community policing hits full strength across London

Hundreds more officers for London's transport network

Tubes to get longer and cooler as part of a £3 billion upgrade

It's New Year - let's pledge to save money and save the planet

'Gas-guzzlers must pay for pollution'

Metropolitan Police publishes pledge to all Londoners

New powers mean thousands more affordable homes

London defends religious expression

Cyclists v Drivers: Who's right and who's wrong?

Intolerance gets a dressing down

Tailor-to-the-stars Ozwald Boateng tells The Londoner why the capital's new skills board will help keep London competitive

Turn over a new (green) leaf

Work, rest and play: Now staff in London's smaller firms may soon be able to benefit from workplace nurseries

London's voluntary grants body is 'not fit for purpose'

To keep costs down this issue was supported by loyal advertisers: TfL (p4), Mayor's Office (p6), Age Concern (p8), Mayor's Office (p10), TfL (p16) and TfL (p20).

So there's plenty to look forward to in 2007....