ALG gives mayors warning

13 Jan 00
Future London mayors were warned this week not to exceed their powers by attempting to snatch responsibilities away from borough councils.

14 January 2000

Lord Toby Harris, chair of the Association of London Government (ALG), the organisation that represents the 33 London authorities, said the mayor should 'keep your tanks off our lawn'.

Instead, he or she should stress 'the interests of the people above their own self-interest', said Harris, and help forge a good relationship with the boroughs.

'The mayor must support the boroughs and the boroughs must help the mayor to operate.' If not, Harris warned, there would be 'conflict and deadlock and London and Londoners would be the losers'.

On finance issues, Harris, who was speaking at the launch of an ALG document on future working arrangements in the capital, said the mayor should lobby the Treasury for more resources for London councils.

Harris, a loyal New Labour supporter, also backed plans for a public-private partnership to finance London Underground, rather than issuing a bond.

His 'defensive' remarks drew immediate criticism from Susan Kramer, the Liberal Democrats' mayoral candidate and political opponent within the ALG.

Kramer said the boroughs would 'have to be very realistic and support the mayor'. She added: 'The mayor has a responsibility to bring together corporate strategies for bringing London forward.'

Paul Lynch, a Conservative who unsuccessfully stood for his party's London mayoral nomination, said the mayor should take 'a strong, more effective tone which gives a lead to boroughs'.

Although attention has so far largely focused on personalities, the ALG's document is the first to address the day-to-day political arrangements.

The boroughs, and their 2,000 elected councillors, will still have responsibility for services such as schools and libraries, while the mayor will have strategic responsibilities in areas such as transport.


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