How the Greater London Authority (GLA) works
The Greater London Authority is a new and unique form of strategic regional government for London. It is made up of the directly elected Mayor of London and a separately elected Assembly.
The Mayor of London
Ken Livingstone was elected Mayor of London on 4 May 2000. His aim is that London should be a leading world city, in terms of sustainability, prosperity and diversity. To make this happen, the Mayor has set as his priorities to rebuild London’s failing transport system, to ensure that London has the number and quality of police officers it needs to reduce crime and the fear of crime throughout Greater London, and to celebrate London’s diversity through all aspects of the city’s culture.
What can the Mayor do?
The Mayor has a range of specific powers and duties, and a general power to do anything that will promote economic and social development, and environmental improvement, in London. Before using many of his powers the Mayor must consult with Londoners, and in all cases, the Mayor must promote equality of opportunity.
What does the Mayor do?
• The Mayor sets out plans and policies for London covering transport, buildings and land use, economic development and regeneration, culture, and a range of environmental issues including biodiversity, ambient noise, waste disposal and air quality.
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• Represents and promotes London at home and abroad and speaks up for Londoners.
• Exercises the executive functions of the GLA’s London’s regional government
• Sets the GLA budget and the budget for transport for London, and is able to direct their activities
• Makes appointments to the Metropolitan Police Authority and the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority
What responsibilities does the GLA have?
The GLA’s main areas of responsibility are:
• Transport – Transport for London, TfL, who provide buses, river services and some light rail services, maintain London’s main roads and regulate London’s licensed taxi service (and will also run the tube, when it is handed over by central government)
• Policing – the Metropolitan Police, who provide policing in the capital, under the oversight of the Metropolitan Police Authority MPA
• Fire and Emergency Planning – London Fire Brigade, which responds to fires and promotes fire prevention, under the oversight of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority
• Economic Development
How is the GLA structured?
There is a clear separation of powers within the Authority between the Mayor who has an executive role, making decisions on behalf of the GLA and the Assembly which scrutinises his work.
What does the Assembly do?
• Scrutinises the Mayor’s actions and decisions
• Considers the Mayor’s budget and can, by a two thirds majority, amend the mayor’s proposals
• Appoints most of the GLA’s staff and sets their terms and conditions
• Investigates matters of importance to London
Other powers and duties
The Mayors Advisory Cabinet, represents a wide range of interests and communities, and they meet monthly in public to advise on the Mayor’s policies.
London Development Agency – which works with business to sustain and improve London’s role as a business centre, while increasing economic opportunity for all Londoners
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Cultural Strategy group – their role is to develop the Mayor’s cultural strategy, which will cover everything from sport, to architectural heritage, to performing arts in London.
In preparing or revising strategies, the Mayor must consult:
• The Assembly
• The GLA group
• Each London borough Council
• The Common Council
• Any other body with whom he considers it appropriate to consult
The Mayors Strategies
The Mayor of London is required to prepare a number of strategies on London-wide issues. He has already produced an Economic Development Strategy and a Transport Strategy.
By law he must also publish strategies on Waste, Noise, Bio-diversity, Air quality and Culture. Additionally he has also chosen to develop strategies on Energy, Housing and Children. Below is an update on where the Mayors strategied stand:
Transport – Strategy published on 10 July 2001.
Economic Development – Strategy published on 17 July 2001.
Air Quality – Strategy due out May 2002.
Bio-diversity – Strategy due out June 2002.
Culture – Draft Strategy due out in Autumn 2002
Energy – Draft Strategy due out for consultation October 2002.
Noise – Draft Strategy due out for consultation January 2003.
Spatial Development – Draft London Plan to be published 2002.
Waste – Draft Strategy due out for consultation March 2002.
The Mayor has also published a Rough Sleepers Strategy and a Refugee Strategy. The Children’s strategy will be developed in partnership with the London Commissioners for Children’s’ rights.
It is important for the Mayor to know what you think about his proposals. Your views will help guide the preparation of the final strategic policy documents. For further information visit the GLA website www.london.gov.uk.
Term of appointment and next election
The Mayor is elected for a fixed term of four years. The next election of Mayor and Assembly will be in May 2004.
The role of Mayor is a full-time job. The Mayor’s salary was set by the Government following the recommendation of the Review Body on Senior Salaries. In 2000/01 the salary was £86,832.17.
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What is the London Assembly?
The London Assembly is a scrutinising body with 25 members. Voters in London elect all 25, at the same time as they vote for the Mayor.
The electoral system used to elect the Members is complex. It takes account of the London boroughs (which are grouped for this purpose into 14 constituencies), party lists and independent candidates, and is designed to produce a distribution of seats that will always be proportional to the total votes cast across London. The outcome of the first election was to produce nine Labour members, nine Conservative Members, four Liberal Democrat members and three members of the Green Party.
Trevor Phillips and Sally Hamwee elected by their fellow Members as Deputy Chair and Chair respectively of the Assembly in May 2001 for a period of one year.
What does the London Assembly do?
• provides a check and a balance on the Mayor
• has powers to amend the Mayor’s budget subject to a two-thirds majority decision
• appoints the GLA’s Chief Executive, Monitoring Officer, Chief Finance Officer and all other members of the Authority’s staff
• investigates issues of Londonwide significance and makes proposals to appropriate stakeholders
• scrutinises the Mayor’s performance and makes proposals to the Mayor
• has a power to summon the Mayor, senior staff of the Authority and functional bodies, and bodies or persons in a contractual relationship with, or in receipt of grant from the Authority
• provides members to serve on the Metropolitan Police Authority, the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, and the London Development Agency
• provides the Deputy Mayor, who is chosen by the Mayor. Nicky Gavron is currently Deputy Mayor
How does the London Assembly keep a check on the Mayor?
The Mayor must:
• consult the Assembly when preparing strategies
• inform the Assembly of all major decisions and the reasons for them
• submit the GLA budget to the Assembly for approval and
• attend ten question time sessions each year at which the Mayor and members of the administration can be questioned by the Assembly about their actions.
The Assembly will review the Mayor’s draft strategies and give its views on them in meetings that are open to the public.
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The Mayor’s budget covers the core GLA and the four major functional bodies in the GLA family: the Metropolitan Police Authority, the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, the London Development Agency, and Transport for London.
The Assembly scrutinises the Mayor’s budget and votes on whether to approve it in open meetings that must take place before the end of February each year because decisions made in this budget have an effect on London’s council taxes and council tax bills go out in March.
How is the London Assembly accountable to Londoners?
• The London Assembly is elected every four years, at the same time as the Mayor. Assembly members are required to take decisions as far as possible in full public view. For example, the records of meetings and papers submitted to the Assembly and its reports are made available to the public on the GLA website www.london,gov.uk or on request from the GLA
• The Mayor and Assembly attend a twice yearly People’s Question Time at which the public are able to put questions to the Mayor and Assembly. The meetings are held in different locations around London and are open to all, but can be popular and so you may need to apply to the GLA for a ticket to secure a place
• Assembly plenary sessions and committee meetings are open to the public
• The results of Assembly scrutinies are published.
Are London Assembly members paid?
Members are paid £35,436.70. The Deputy Mayor is paid £53,243.70. (as at March 2001, on a full time basis).