GREEN DEVOLUTION IN LONDON

The Mayor’s recent proposal for devolution has one theme going through it, green devolution in London, though l do not think it was intended. It has some interesting proposals for green devolution in London governance, as he undoubtedly comes to realise the limitations of making an impact in this arena via the powers vested in the Mayor’s office. It starts with the management of our green spaces hence the push for the Royal Parks Agency; taking control of the main waterway through London the Thames by proposing the Port of London Authority (PLA) be devolved to the GLA Group; realising the limitations of the Mayor’s London Waste Authority under his control and asking for more powers here; and finally and not least on the Energy & Climate Change front.

The Royal Parks in London proposal was leaked some time ago in the media and is particularly important for central London. The key issue here for the Mayor is to make sure he is not short changed by the DCMS. Now that is going to be difficult when all government departments outside Health & International Development are going to have to make cuts of 25 per cent over the next 4 years, as l cannot see how the £19 million that the Royal Parks gets already will be transferred over to the Mayor. This will mean that the parks are not maintained in the manner we are accustomed to and we will probably have more events in parks like Hyde and Regents park. Just the thing many people do not want.

The move for the PLA is certainly intriguing as l have already indicated in a previous blog on the battle for PLA. But there are still a few misunderstandings by the Mayor’s office. Again on the funding front, the Mayor’s office thinks funding from the PLA should be transferred to them when in fact it is self-funding through its licence fees etc for harbour services and facilities. Furthermore, this proposed devolution to the GLA group would mean the Mayor extending himself geographically into the Thames Estuary and I’m not sure of the motivation here at all for this.

Its interesting to note the request made to strengthen the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWaRB) role in delivering efficient and effective waste management for London, as Boris has come to realise the limitations of its powers and is probably a return to the arguments of just one waste authority across London that we had in the last Mayoralty that Ken fought for (and lost to DEFRA) when we last had a discussion of a transfer of new powers to the London Mayor. Quite frankly that’s not surprising and it’s interesting that both the mayors have come to similar conclusions.

The weakest area of proposed further green devolution is unfortunately on the Energy & Climate Change front where we have just loose talk about a more regional approach. Quite honestly we need a lot more accountability of the private utilities like the energy and water companies over their investment plans for London and at present we do not even know what investments the energy companies are making in energy efficiencies measures in our homes let alone new measures for further energy supplies.