Letter: Mayor's task

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The Independent Culture
Sir: With Lord Rogers unpacking the Urban Task Force's report on 29 June, what is the best strategy for London?

London hasn't seriously had mayoral government since 1633, when the City rejected the Stuart Council's approach "whether they would accept of parte of the suburbs into their jurisdiction and liberty for better government".

The problem for the new Mayor is that they will be saddled with the old GLC boundary. In fact London has two different types of problem - strategic and local - neither of which relates to the GLC limits.

The strategic level involves the whole South-east and is concerned with London's accessibility and labour supply. The Mayor will only influence here, as all the major decisions about airports, rail connections and housing targets will be taken elsewhere. Local issues are what the outer boroughs are really concerned about. The new system will only work if the new Mayor keeps off their turf. They are not directly part of those activities that make London a major metropolitan centre and world city.

But in the centre the issues are both strategic and local. This is where borough government struggles and is where, in my view the Mayor must first strive to make it work. This is an area under huge local pressures and displaying big variations as between parts which are succeeding and parts which are not. It is where congestion (and air quality) is an acute concern; this is the area where refuse collection varies enormously; this is the area of poor schools ... the list is endless.

The central London area is home to international finance business and institutions, to government, a major cultural concentration, to tourism. This vital economic, cultural and living area is presently the scene of a squabble among the ten boroughs who run it. Their agenda is not a world city agenda. It needs a different form of government. The Government Office for London has been cajoling them to co-ordinate their plans. There is huge resistance.

The London Mayor must be prepared to carve out the real strategic issues from the central London boroughs.



Robert Turley Associates

London W1