Letters: London has too many answers

Sir: Andreas Whittam Smith poses the right question, in relation to the current ferment of ideas about the future of London - "How is the connection to be made between ideas and action?" And while Labour's elected strategic city-regional assembly is essential, it will not be sufficient to mobilise local enthusiasms.

We argue that directly-elected neighbourhood councils should be introduced into London, building on the experience of community councils elsewhere. Each neighbourhood council would be the guardian of its own physical environment, and be responsible direct to Labour's new London regional authority: the boroughs would remain the sole service-providers. The neighbourhood councils would decide planning applications (within the framework of a Greater London plan) take over cleansing, recycling and certain anti-pollution controls, preservation orders and conservation areas, local traffic management, and a key role in the administration of local amenities.

We estimate that there would be over 1,000 such neighbourhood councils in London, giving some 30,000 Londoners the opportunity to participate directly in the governance of their great city, part of a movement of 250,000 neighbourhood councillors nationwide. That, coupled with new strategic regional assemblies, would create "the connection between ideas and action".


Director, City Region Campaign

London N1