Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Many Questions

This morning saw the February MQT session. With questions about the Mayor's role in the Damian Green affair ruled out of order - our standards committee still has to consider its findings - this was a scrappy meeting without a real core theme. The public gallery was packed as usual, with several school and college parties, a group from Richmond, and my own guests from The Executive Network.

Tim O'Toole

We were sorry to receive the news of Tim's resignation. after six years running London Underground - more than enough for most - he has decided to return to the US. Tim is the last, and best, of the Americans recruited to TfL under Ken and he will be sorely missed. The search for a successor will now begin.

Housing Targets

The Mayor agreed with me that the new London Plan should specify larger space standards for flats in future developments. I met a German architect at the weekend and she expressed shock at the tiny properties that we allow in London, and at the fact that social housing has higher standards than private housing. There is a sore need for some levelling up - London deserves buy to live, not buy to let.

Air Quality

The opposition made much of the decision to suspend implementation of phase three of the low emission zone, and claimed that the Mayor had tried to hide the news amongst the coverage of the snow earlier this month. Actually there is no reason to hide what is a good piece of news for thousands of London businesses and charities that faced bankruptcy as a result of the demand to change their vehicles. Now they will get a further grace period, and considering the surprise that the recession caused, a Labour Mayor may well have taken the same decision.

Meanwhile Boris has written to Dark Lord Mandleson asking for grants to help small businesses upgrade their vehicles. Motorists in London will welcome some carrots after years of Ken's sticks.

Outer London Commission

The Mayor accepted that the new commission - whilst a welcome initiative - was developer heavy, so he agreed to consider appointing some members who would act to preserve the green spaces and heritage of outer London rather than seeking to modernise and build on them.

British Jobs for British Workers

I'm sure Gordon Brown would be delighted at the way BNP member Barnbrook took up his rallying cry, following the recent spate of wildcat strikes. Boris mounted a stout defence of people from other countries who come to London and vowed to reject calls for a more protectionist approach - not least because of the number of Londoners who find work in other countries.

DLR Overcrowding

There's a by election in North Woolwich, which tends to focus attention on a largely forgotten area. Neil Pearce, the Conservative candidate, is calling for an upgrade to the DLR trains following the opening of the new station at Woolwich which in turn created heavy use and overcrowding on the service. The Mayor agreed to look at it, and even John Biggs - the local AM - is on board. Nice to conclude with some cross party agreement.


Rog T said...


Interesting blog. I know it's outside your area but could you have a quiet word in Barnet Council Leader Mike Freer's ear about his blog -

His latest post dated 25th Feb is detailing a meeting on 23rd Nov 2008. Seems to me that you could give him a few pointers on at least making it readable.

You'd be doing us all a favour if you gave him a couple of pointers on how to make it interesting & informative. After all he's got the taxpayer to fund it !

Roger Evans said...

Rog T, thank you for the kind words. Unlike so many people in politics - on all sides - I never try to tell colleagues how to do their jobs, and I suspect that is why I have fewer enemies than average, so I'm not going to break that rule now.

Of course my efforts don't cost the public, or myself, anything. Blogger really is a very useful tool.

Rog T said...

It amazes me how few politicians effectively use their blogs (if they bother to have one at all). It rather annoys me that I have to look at yours (interesting though it is) for a feel of GLA meetings rather than my own member who doesn't bother.

In Barnet we used to have a column in the local paper written by Bill Montgomery who used to do a sketch type column about the council. I think he won a few awards. It was an interesting read and gave you a feel for the characters. Those of us who find such things interesting rather miss it.

These days all you get is ads for double glazing and rather dubious massages !