London needs own government, Major told

THE ONLY way to improve quality of life in London is for the establishment of a new city-wide government for the capital, the Institute for Metropolitan Studies claims today in an open letter to the Prime Minister.

In a report, A Fresh Start for London, which has already been sent to Downing Street, the institute, a non-political organisation, calls for the establishment of a body with clearly defined aims that would co-operate rather than conflict with central government. The report was compiled on behalf of the institute by Sir James Swaffield, former director-general of the Greater London Council; Sir Alan Greengross, a former director of the Port of London Authority and member of the GLC; Maurice Stonefrost, deputy pro- vice chancellor, City University; Sir Frank Layfield, president of the Association of County Councils; and Sir Ralf Dahrendorf, former director of the London School of Economics and chairman of Newspaper Publishing plc which publishes the Independent.

The study comes six years after the abolition of the GLC, and in the face of Tory opposition to any kind of elected authority for the capital. It warns that London is threatened by a fast-decaying physical and social environment. It identifies five problem areas to which the proposed authority would pay particular attention among which are transport and the need for London-wide land use assessment for projects like Channel tunnel rail terminals.

'The disparate bodies which have partial responsibilities for these matters are increasingly regarded as ineffective,' it suggests.

The report rejects the idea of a Minister for London and for an elected mayor because of the possibility for 'potentially damaging conflict with central government'. Instead, it counsels the establishment of a central authority that would work with both central government and the boroughs to represent the interests of Londoners. The new authority would consist of two bodies - a small executive, elected by London residents, and a larger standing conference on which all the London MPs would sit, and an equal number of borough representatives.

Leading article, page 20