London politics have been transformed over the last two months following the election of a new mayor, changes to senior positions in London local government and the UK’s vote to withdraw from the European Union.
In the aftermath of the vote, the London mayor Sadiq Khan has called for more control over public services to help the city cope with leaving the EU.
As part of his call, Khan is seeking additional responsibility for the spending of property taxes raised in London, and wants London government to more directly run skills training and further education. He’s also looking for further powers over housing and planning, transport, health and policing.
In addition, the newly-elected chair of London Councils, the body representing all thirty-three London boroughs, has called for greater devolution of powers to the capital following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.
Cllr Claire Kober, who has been Labour leader of Haringey Council since 2008, was elected earlier this week at a meeting of the London Councils’ Leaders Committee, made up of leaders of London’s boroughs. Cllr Kober has been elected to replace the previous chair, Mayor Jules Pipe, who has become deputy mayor of planning, regeneration and skills at City Hall and will be instrumental in developing a new London Plan.
Speaking after her appointment, Cllr Kober said London Councils has already worked with Core Cities to develop a devolution strategy and with the London Finance Commission and the mayor on plans to use the powers to support growth and public services.
As evidence of the development of these arrangements, this week’s meeting of all leaders from the London Councils, noted that progress is being made on a tripartite agreement between the government, the new mayor of London and the capital’s boroughs as an attempt to tackle the city’s housing crisis.
The strategy within the agreement entails an aspiration for very significant increases in housing delivery by 2021, including empowering local government to deliver more affordable homes for rent, developing more effective relationships with housing associations, agreeing an enhanced funding package for London as a whole, addressing planning, land assembly and capacity constraints and better joint governance of housing delivery for the boroughs and the London Mayor.
Many borough leaders have also indicated a desire to engage in a more collaborative approach to borough-led housing delivery. One option is a collaborative vehicle or fund to allow boroughs to work together more effectively across boundaries, maximising the opportunities of available land, funds and expertise within boroughs.
It is likely the first stage of an agreements will be agreed over the next few weeks and further work will be needed to improve governance and arrangements for closer engagement between the boroughs and the mayor’s team on housing and planning policy development and delivery.
This article was written by Associate Director Daniel Francis
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