As the Mayor makes a bid for more power from his friends in the coalition government (outlined in his paper “The Mayor of London’s Proposal for Devolution”) it is clear that one of the battlefields is the Port of London Authority (PLA). The document clearly states that given the critical importance of the Thames to London’s prosperity the PLA should be devolved to the GLA group. The Mayor also says the work of the PLA needs to be integrate with the Mayor’s Transport Strategy and London Plan, which l readily accept. But whether all responsibilities of the PLA should be devolved to the GLA group, and its funding transferred to the Mayor, is another thing altogether.

 I can well understand the Mayor’s interest in the Thames between Teddington and QE bridge ( boardly speaking within the boundaries of Greater London) to assist for example transport measures for passengers – and let’s not forget freight as well. But taking his influence out to sea to cover the Thames Estuary would be a great geographical expansion of the Mayor’s powers. So why does Boris want to become captain of the Seas? I can only suggest that it is somehow linked to his Mayoral team’s pursuit of the airport in the Thames Estuary. This would at least give him jurisdiction over the area where any such airport might be built, because this is clearly an ambition that his administration has still not dropped. Interestingly, the PLA themselves proposed an airport in the Thames Estuary on Maplin Sands back in the early 1970s, but this area has subsequently become an EU conservation area for birds. So there is a lot the PLA know about this and other proposals historically.

As for the Mayor suggesting he should get some sort of funding transfer to run the PLA, this is somewhat reflects rather badly on the Boris administration as the PLA is self-financing with no recall to public funds. But then this is hardly surprising, given that at the beginning of the year, Boris’s favourite think tank, Policy Exchange put out a report called “At a Rate of Knots” which originally suggested the idea of Mayoral control over the PLA Unfortunately their report contained some basic arithmetic errors about the level of subsidies that the passenger service already gets from TfL. Please check my blog on this with the attached link;
This clearly suggested that the policy wonks could not grasp some basic facts & figures, so it’s hardly surprising if they still think the PLA benefits from public funding. 
So certainly watch this space on the battle for the PLA.

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