London assembly will have 25 seats

THE GOVERNMENT'S plans to revolutionise London politics were revealed in detail yesterday when a blueprint was unveiled for the new strategic authority for the capital.

The Local Government Commission announced that the proposed Greater London Authority would carve the city into 14 "mega-constituencies", each with 350,000 voters.

The authority, which will act as a check on the powers of the directly- elected mayor, will be made up of 25 members in total, with one representative for each voting area and 11 more taken proportionally from a "top-up" list.

Elections to the GLA are expected to take place in the Spring of 2000 and will coincide with the separate contest for the mayor for London.

The Government insists that the new body will not be a "son-of-GLC", but it will have powers over planning, the environment, transport and even policing in the capital.

It will also be able to query the mayor's appointments and his budget.

Each of the members for the 14 constituencies will be elected under the traditional first-past-the-post system.

The extra 11 will come from lists and will be made up proportionally to reflect the support of each of the parties.

The blueprint links boroughs together in a strategic way, linking areas such as Camden and Barnet, Greenwich and Lewisham and Hounslow with Richmond and Kingston.

Local Government Commission chairman Professor Malcolm Grant called for the public to respond actively to the proposals for each voting area.

"Londoners voted to create a new strategic authority for the capital. The Greater London Assembly will have a key role to play in its governance. I hope as many people as possible will make their views known to the commission," he said.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport, Environment and the Regions said: "This is a draft report for further consultation. We look forward to the final recommendations in the autumn."

The final date for representations to the Commission is 13 October and a finished plan will be published in November.