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Agenda item

London Assembly Update

Leonie Cooper, Assembly Member for Merton and Wandsworth


Leonie Cooper, Assembly Member for Merton and Wandsworth, provided an update on the work of the Assembly. The Assembly scrutinises GLA family of organisation including the Metropolitan Police, London Fire Brigade, and Transport for London


Leonie said the leadership of the Met Police has changed from Cressida Dick to Mark Rowley, with the new Commissioner tasked with dealing with the problems of culture with some Met officers.


The new London Fire Brigade commissioner oversaw an independent review of culture in the Brigade, and this was recently published. The review found the Brigade to be institutionally racist and sexist. The Brigade has also changed policies on tall buildings post Grenfell and has brought new kit including 32m ladders. There are also using drones with thermal imaging.


Transport for London held two major consultations over the summer, expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone and changes bus routes in central London. The result of the bus route is that only three routes will be cut, others merged, and there are no changes in Merton and Wandsworth. The ULEZ consultation had a lot of responses from outside of London. The Assembly met to change the Mayor’s Transport Strategy to allow for vehicle charging in the future and extending the ULEZ from August 2023. The plans also included a new scrappage scheme worth £110m and extended exemptions or retrofitting. Leonie said it is more difficult to travel in outer London so more work to do to improve public transport.


A resident said that traffic problems on Bushey Road crossing with Grand Drive created an air quality issue and asked if air quality on the bus stop could be monitored. Leonie said residents can get hold of diffusion tubes from other groups like Breath London, whilst TfL does do some Air Quality monitoring it might be quicker to do some citizen science.


A resident asked about the new premises for the Assembly. Leonie said that the journey there is much worse and felt the Assembly should still be in heart of London. However, the new building is more sustainable and is owned by the GLA.


A resident asked about the impact of strikes and Leonie said that London is a very expensive place to live, and that a lot of public sector final salary schemes have closed. Many have not had a pay rise since 2010 but the cost of living has increased for interest rates, food, and fuel. There are lots of vacancies in public services like social care. There is a better relationship with the new Transport Secretary but the main conversation is about the deal with TfL rather than wider train problems.


Cllr Flack asked about the cost of rents, and Leonie said the Mayor has called for powers to be devolved to allow rents to be set or controlled. The Assembly has also called for reforms to Local Housing Allowance, but the Government was reluctant to agree. The Private Rented Sector was not rent controlled and often in poor condition with low energy efficiency.


Tony Edwards asked about sales of properties to overseas investors and Leonie said that many of the tall buildings along river are being marketed to people in Singapore and other overseas locations and then left empty. This should be constrained and the Mayor has used the London Plan to encourage developers to stick to higher standards but this is only relevant to larger schemes. Any change would need to be to national policy.