• Wednesday, February 01, 2023

HEADLINE STORY

London’s mayor powers could be reviewed: Report

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

Senior figures in the government are believed to favour a review of devolution for London amid concerns over mayor Sadiq Khan’s handling of the Met Police and the fire service.

His recent announcement on the expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (Ulez) across the capital next summer has further ruffled the Conservatives’ feathers with several MPs warning it would adversely affect small businesses.

But the government has no power to stop the mayor from going ahead with the move.

Khan said last month that the expansion of the Ulez London-wide was aimed at tackling the “triple threats of air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion.”

He justified the expansion which will come into effect from August 29, saying it would enable five million more Londoners to breathe cleaner air.

The expansion of the Ulez to all boroughs of London means cars manufactured before 2005 would be charged £12.50 for entering the city.

But the announcement has led to fears that it would create a “financial wall” between the city and the rest of the UK.

Transport minister Richard Holden said the government had no power to veto the mayor’s decision in spite of the Ulez plan going against Khan’s “manifesto and his own consultation”.

Earlier this month, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services put the London Fire Brigade into special measures following an investigation that concluded the brigade was “institutionally misogynist and racist”.

In June this year, the Met Police was placed into an advanced stage of monitoring after a series of scandals hit the force.

The Greater London Authority (GLA), the regional governance body, has powers over fire and emergency planning and policing.

 

A Whitehall source told The Telegraph that Mr Khan “has obviously got a good majority, but the Met Police are in special measures, the fire services are in special measures and he is underspending on housing development”.

“While we are looking at devolution frameworks elsewhere in the country, it is a natural time to check back at what has been done in London,” the source said.

Whether a review of London’s powers would be an internal government analysis or if it would be a larger scale piece of work, possibly involving a public consultation remained under discussion, the newspaper said.

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