Greater London Authority

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The Greater London Authority (GLA) administers the 1579 km² (610 sq. miles) of Greater London, covering the 32 London boroughs and the City of London. The GLA consists of an elected Mayor and 25-member Assembly. The present Mayor is Ken Livingstone, formerly (1981-1986) leader of the Greater London Council (GLC).


[edit] Purpose

The official Greater London Authority logo

The GLA was created to improve the coordination between the London boroughs, 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 transport body (Transport for London) and economic development body (the London Development Agency).

One of the primary purposes of the London Assembly is to hold the Mayor of London to account, and to scrutinise their actions and decisions. The Assembly must also accept or amend the Mayor's budget on an annual basis.

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. While the GLA has a modern constitution, the organisation of the City of London has barely changed since the middle ages and is mainly controlled by City business interests.

The GLA is based at City Hall, a new building on the south bank of the River Thames, next to Tower Bridge.

[edit] History

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 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.

Under the leadership of Tony Blair the 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 looked as little like the GLC as possible. After Labour 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. After a controversial election campaign, Livingstone was elected Mayor in March 2000, despite attempts by Blair to block his standing for the post. After a short period when the Mayor and Assembly were elected but had no powers, the GLA was formally established on 3 July 2000.

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. [1] [2] [3]. The result of the consultation and final proposals were published by the Department for Communities and Local Government on July 13, 2006. [4]

[edit] Powers and Functions

[edit] Functional bodies

Areas which the GLA has responsibillity 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:

[edit] Planning

The GLA is responsible for co-ordinating 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.

[edit] 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<ref>"London - planning for climate change", London Climate Change Agency. URL accessed 20 August 2006.</ref>.

The Mayor's energy strategy<ref>"Mayor's Energy Strategy", Mayor of London. URL accessed 20 August 2006.</ref> 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<ref> London Energy Partnership. URL accessed 20 August 2006.</ref> and the founding of the international Large Cities Climate Leadership Group.

The London Sustainable Development Commission<ref>London Sustainable Development Commission. URL accessed 20 August 2006.</ref> 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%.

[edit] Political control

After the 2004 elections, Conservatives had the largest representation (nine members) on the Assembly, followed by seven from Labour, five Liberal Democrats, two Greens and two from One London (elected as UKIP, but subsequently changed allegiance).

After Livingstone's re-election as a Labour Mayor, the Labour Assembly members declared that they did not consider it appropriate for them, being of the same political party, to hold him to account. This resulted in the Tories and LibDems agreeing to alternate the Chair and Deputy Chair of the GLA, and of some of its committees, between them. This does not extend to an agreement on policy matters.

[edit] References


[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Government of London from 1855 to present

Metropolitan Board of Works (MBW) 1855 - 1889

London County Council (LCC) 1889 - 1965

Greater London Council (GLC) 1965 - 1986

Mayor of London and the London Assembly of the Greater London Authority (GLA) 2000 +

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Greater London Authority

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