Greater London Authority Act 2007

Written submission from the Mayor of London (GLA 01)


1. The Greater London Authority (GLA) Act 2007 was the culmination of the first review of the powers provided to London government through the GLA Act 1999, the Act which restored citywide government to the capital.

2. There has been a subsequent revision of those powers through the Localism Act 2011 and so the issues being raised by the Committee should also be seen through the prism of this more recent piece of legislation.

3. It would be reasonable to view the GLA Act 2007 as representing incremental rather than radical change. The Act focused on four principal policy areas:

· Planning;

· Housing;

· Waste; and

· Skills and employment.

4. In the case of waste, the former Mayor did not achieve his stated wish of creating a single waste authority for London under the Mayoralty. The creation of the London Waste & Recycling Board (LWARB) should be seen in this light.

5. In the other areas, some changes were instigated – the Mayoralty was given a strategic role in housing and skills & employment matters – but there was not a major transfer of responsibilities, budgets or staff.

6. On housing, the strategic housing powers conferred on the Mayor by the Act did to some extent increase the Mayor’s ability to deliver his housing aims. However, the reforms at best represented only partial devolution and did not provide the ability to hold those delivering housing in London to account commensurate with the expectations surrounding the Mayor’s role.

7. On skills and employment, the London Skills & Employment Board (LSEB) operated from 2006 to 2010 and created a robust evidence base and a straightforward, effective skills and employment strategy for London. Its work is continued by the London Enterprise Panel (LEP).

8. As a result of the LSEB’s work, London had an accessible and coherent approach to tackling the complexities and fragmentation of London’s skills and employment landscape. The LSEB’s first London skills and employment strategy generated a set of positive relationships between partners that have endured beyond the LSEB’s lifespan.

9. The most controversial change was made in the area of planning decisions. The Mayoralty was given the power – for the first time – to call in and take over major applications rather than just veto them, as had initially been the case.

10. Understandably, London boroughs were apprehensive about this change. The GLA is of the view that the new power has been used sparingly and judiciously – in each case, it can be justifiably argued that the power was invoked for the good of London as a whole.

11. The Localism Act moved matters on further by:

· Transferring the Homes & Communities Agency’s (HCA) London functions to the GLA;

· Transferring the London Development Agency’s (LDA) functions to the GLA; and

· The creation of the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) as a functional body of the GLA with responsibility for the transformation of the Olympic Park.

12. The transfer of HCA and LDA functions and the creation of the LLDC involved significant additional policy, budget and staffing responsibilities for the GLA. In this sense, it would seem reasonable to conclude that the Localism Act was somewhat bolder in awarding further devolution to London government than the GLA Act 2007 had been.

13. It seems unlikely that there will be any imminent further reforms to the role of London government, given that the review culminating in the Localism Act has only recently been fully implemented. However, that is not to say, that the Mayoralty lacks ambition for London. Areas with potential for further devolution to the GLA include:

· Greater financial devolution – the Mayor has established the London Finance Commission with a view to establishing a more sustainable funding regime for London government;

· Outcomes arising from the Mayor’s 2020 Vision document – in an increasingly globalised world a plan is needed to deal with the significant challenges presented by both rapid population growth and ever more competitive economic conditions. The Vision will set out a consensus view of the economic and social infrastructure needed if the capital city is to thrive in the current world environment and contribute to the nation’s wealth; and

· Transfer of responsibility for suburban train services in the capital to Transport for London (TfL) – this would build on TfL’s successful operation of its ‘Overground’ service.

14. There follow sections on:

· Planning;

· Waste;

· Statutory Strategies;

· The London Assembly;

· Appointments to the TfL Board; and

· Appointments to the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA).


15. The GLA Act 2007 introduced two new Mayoral powers:

· The power to direct changes to London boroughs’ Local Development Schemes (their planning policy work programme); and

· The power to direct that the Mayor is to become the local planning authority.

16. The power to direct changes to London boroughs’ Local Development Schemes has only been used once, and in light of subsequent changes to the development plan process is only likely to be used exceptionally.

17. The power to direct that the Mayor is to become the planning authority has been used six times, since coming into effect in 2008:

· Columbus Tower;

· Southall Gasworks;

· Benedict Wharf (SITA);

· Saatchi site;

· The London Fruit & Wool Exchange; and

· Eileen House.

18. Representation Hearings have been held for five of these, with the sixth, for Eileen House, due in late February 2013.

19. There is no evidence from these cases that the Mayor has used the process to revise the distribution of Section 106 payments in favour of infrastructure projects of interest to the Mayor.

20. For Columbus Tower, there was a ring-fenced re-distribution of the transport package from cycleway upgrades to Crossrail.

21. For Southall Gasworks, the total section 106 pot remained the same but there was some re-distribution from projects in Ealing to projects in Hillingdon, following negotiation with the two boroughs in question. Disagreements between the two boroughs over the impact of the development had historically been a significant barrier to development of the site (which straddles the borough boundary). The Mayor’s intervention was welcomed.

22. For Saatchi, the total section 106 package was increased (with the additional amount going towards Crossrail, to comply with the relevant Supplementary Planning Guidance – SPG – that had subsequently been adopted) as a result of Mayoral intervention.

23. For Benedict Wharf and the London Fruit and Wool Exchange, the section 106 package remained unchanged.

24. In all cases, there had been some objections that the Mayor has intervened at all. However, it also fair to say that objectors have been satisfied that the Representation Hearing has operated impartially and have welcomed being given the opportunity to present their case (as have scheme supporters).

25. In all cases, the boroughs have continued to be involved in section 106 negotiations after the Mayoral decision, have signed the section 106 agreement and have been the recipient of section 106 monies. The Mayor has not opted to receive payments.

26. Similarly, the boroughs have – in general – appreciated the additional experience and negotiating skills that the GLA can bring to bear in order to resolve outstanding issues. In all cases to date, the applications have been recommended for approval by officers and overturned by Members. As such, officers were facing lengthy and costly public inquiries which would have been very difficult to defend. In these instances, the intervention of the Mayor has not only saved public (and indeed private) expenditure but delivered a planning decision more quickly.

27. There is also evidence that the prospect of Mayoral intervention has helped focus applicants and boroughs (Members in particular) on delivering a timely decision on other schemes.


28. LWARB comprises a board of eight members. There are four borough Members, three independent members and the Chair, who is either the Mayor or his representative. The Mayor and the London boroughs support the work of LWARB and have jointly supported LWARB’s request to Government to provide additional funding in the next Spending Review period.

29. Longer term, the aim is that, through returns on its investments, LWARB becomes self financing, and can continue to deliver improvements in waste management in London without relying upon further taxpayer support.

30. LWARB has supported a range of projects covering waste minimisation, reuse, recycling and waste infrastructure, as well as a waste efficiency project. In summary LWARB has:

· Recently reached financial close on an Anaerobic Digestion plant and In Vessel Composting facility in East London, which is now under construction and expects to reach close on a further two projects this year, with a combined tonnage of circa 150,000 tonnes per year;

· Committed finance to five infrastructure projects that will deliver almost 10,000,000 tonnes of waste diversion from landfill over their lifetime, and nearly 3,000,000 tonnes of CO2 avoidance. LWARB’s total commitment to these projects is £22m, which will lever in around an additional £182 million of private sector finance. LWARB funds are provided on a commercial (and therefore recyclable) basis and LWARB will only invest in projects where it can be demonstrated that the funding cannot be obtained from the private sector finance community;

· Made an £18m investment into a waste Urban Development Fund under the umbrella London Green Fund (LGF). The total waste fund stands at £60m. Debt is often an essential ingredient in meeting equity investor return requirements. As such, LWARB and LGF are often looking to co-invest. A well funded LWARB is therefore a key ingredient to enabling these infrastructure projects to happen;

· Provided £14m to support reuse and recycling initiatives in London. It is expected that this will lead to an additional 230,000 tonnes of material reused and recycled over the lifetime of these projects. Current data indicates that these projects have reused and recycled almost 80,000 tonnes of material to date;

· Funded the London Reuse Network (in addition to separate food and furniture reuse investments) which is expected to deliver around 200 jobs (of which 50 have been delivered to date), just over 3,000 training places (148 to date), 3,700 volunteer places (85 to date), and 1,600 work placements (42 to date);

· Established an efficiencies programme. The first borough waste Efficiency Reviews have been conducted and the recommendations are beginning to be implemented. It is hoped that the first two Efficiency Reviews could lead to savings of around £1m (including some one-off savings). The costs of these Efficiency Reviews are covered by LWARB but are repayable upon savings being realised; and

· Established a joint equipment procurement scheme that leads to savings of around 10%.

31. LWARB was designed so as not to add additional burdens – financial or otherwise – to the Mayor and the boroughs. It has a small, but expert, compliment of staff.

32. The extent to which LWARB is successful in making the case to Government for funding in the next Spending Review period (2015 onwards) will determine its future. In an era of reducing the number of public bodies – particularly the number of smaller public bodies - its existence will need to be kept under ongoing review.

Statutory strategies

33. The GLA Act 2007 introduced three new Mayoral statutory strategies:

· Health inequalities; and

· Two new environmental strategies:

o Climate change mitigation and energy;

o Climate change adaptation.

Health Inequalities Strategy

34. The Health Inequalities Strategy (HIS) was published in April 2010 and is structured around the principles of the Marmot Report. It describes actions that the city needs to take to reduce health inequalities over the next 20 years.

35. There are a number of examples where the resulting work has influenced policy and practice in boroughs:

· The Healthy Workplace Charter (launched in 2012) is run from the GLA and facilitates boroughs’ work with employers to create health improving workplaces and reduce work related health issues;

· The development of the Healthy Schools London model by the GLA has led to four boroughs reinvesting in the local Healthy Schools work;

· The GLA has commissioned the Marmot Team to offer assistance to boroughs to improve how the social determinants of health are reflected in joint strategic needs assessments (JSNA);

· The Well London programme is funded through the Big Lottery, and hosted in the GLA. This programme has worked with 20 of the most deprived boroughs to empower those communities that suffer most from health inequalities; and

· The GLA has hosted regular events marking World Aids Day, along with the Mayor’s Ambassador for HIV Annie Lennox, aimed at the reduction of stigma and inequalities suffered by those living with HIV.

36. The current health reforms – including the repositioning of public health responsibilities within local government – will be key to the future delivery mechanisms for the strategy.

Environmental strategies

37. The GLA Act 1999 established four statutory environmental strategies:

· Municipal waste;

· Air quality;

· Noise; and

· Biodiversity.

38. The GLA Act 2007 introduced two new statutory environmental strategies to reflect London’s role in contributing to national climate change initiatives:

· Climate change mitigation and energy; and

· Climate change adaptation.

39. The Localism Act 2011 combined all six statutory environmental strategies to form a single statutory environmental strategy.

40. Whilst specific powers to implement the statutory environmental strategy do not generally exist, the GLA has encountered success in influencing policy and delivery across a broad range of stakeholders. The strategy sets out the vision and direction that the Mayor wishes to take which, alongside the Mayor’s status and profile, has helped deliver outcomes. This success has been supported by the integration of key policies within the London Plan, which has a strong influence over development in London.

The London Assembly

41. As the London Assembly is the democratically elected body charged with holding the Mayor to account, it would be inappropriate for the Mayoralty to comment on the Assembly’s discharge of its responsibilities.

Appointments to the TfL Board

42. The GLA Act 1999 prohibited the Mayor appointing Assembly Members, and other elected representatives, to the TfL Board. The GLA Act 2007 removed that prohibition. An Assembly Member has yet to be appointed to the TfL Board, although there have been a few instances of councillors being appointed.

Appointments to LFEPA

43. At its meeting on 21 January 2013, LFEPA agreed a series of amendments to the Draft Fifth London Safety Plan put forward by the Fire Commissioner. The Mayor considers that the amendments have rendered the Draft Fifth London Safety Plan unfit for purpose by removing all reference to fire station closures and have made the Authority's future budgetary position (2014-15 onwards) unsustainable.

44. The Mayor views the actions of a narrow majority of LFEPA Members (the vote to amend was nine in favour and eight against) as irresponsible and stemming from the unsatisfactory composition of the Authority’s membership:

· Eight Assembly Members appointed according to political proportionality;

· Seven borough representatives appointed according to political proportionality; and

· Two Mayoral appointees.

45. The composition prior to the GLA Act 2007 was nine Assembly Members and eight borough representatives. The Government consultation paper in the run-up to the 2007 Act proposed that there should be four (rather than two) Mayoral appointees to reflect the Mayor’s strategic role, alongside seven Assembly Members and six borough representatives.

46. Responses to the consultation led to this number being reduced from four down to two. The consequence of that reduction is that the Mayor is unlikely to command a majority in support of his policies among the LFEPA membership.

47. The Mayoralty recommends that the Government restores the initial proposals for four Mayoral appointees to LFEPA. That would be a better reflection of the Mayor’s role and put an end to the dysfunctional arrangements which have recently been witnessed in relation to the Authority’s future service provision and budgetary position.

February 2013

Prepared 19th March 2013