Reform gives GLA committees greater scrutiny role

25 Apr 02
London Mayor Ken Livingstone's imminent new transport powers will come under increasing internal scrutiny following a fundamental reorganisation of the Greater London Authority's independent inspection regime.

26 April 2002

The fledgling GLA has moved quickly to overhaul its scrutiny committee system after accusations that its set-up was ad-hoc, disparate and confusing.

Reorganised transport and budget committees will be a key focus of the changes, which are due to be announced on May 8, when membership of all committees is expected to be finalised.

The new system will herald the introduction of a Parliamentary-style regime, with eight committees covering the authority's main activities.

A spokesman said it 'would bring even greater transparency to the GLA and give London Assembly members and the scrutiny team greater clout in bringing those responsible for the provision of services in the capital to account'.

The transport and budget committees are likely to have nine members, while the others – public services, economic and social development, environment, planning and spatial development, health, and culture, sport and tourism – will have six.

Heightened interest surrounds the reorganisation of the two existing transport committees since Livingstone is set to receive new powers this summer to turn around the capital's ailing Tube, following a protracted battle with the government over its public-private partnership investment and management contracts.

The mayor has also sought to gain more influence over the direction of other aspects of the capital's transport infrastructure.

Some GLA members and independent bodies have raised concerns about his remit and use of unappointed special advisers to pursue his policies.

Rufus Barnes, director of the London Transport Users Committee, told Public Finance that the merger of the existing transport committees was 'a very sensible move' because the existing system was confusing.

'This will make considerations of transport more focused and concentrate efforts in the way Parliament intended – by providing proper checks and balances on the mayor's powers,' he said.


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