Mayor Boris Johnson proposes more powers for office

London Mayor Boris Johnson has set out plans which would give some of the government's powers to his office and the Greater London Authority (GLA).

He plans to scrap the London Development Agency, the GLA's business wing, and bring its functions in-house.

The Olympic Park Legacy Company would become the Mayoral Development Corporation, reporting directly to him.

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said he supported decentralisation of power.

But Labour's Deputy Leader on the London Assembly, John Biggs, said scrapping the LDA "could just be cover for savage cuts".

'Needless bureaucracy'

Mr Johnson also proposes the Royal Parks Agency and the Port of London Authority should be controlled by City Hall.

The proposals, aimed at removing "needless bureaucracy and overlapping functions", are subject to government approval and changes in legislation.

The plans were revealed as Mr Johnson met borough leaders for the first time since the general and local elections in May.

He also wants to see the London region of the Homes and Communities Agency devolved to the GLA and the mayor given a greater say in traffic control and the awarding of rail franchises on routes coming into London.

Mr Johnson said: "The capital is a global powerhouse with a population as large as Wales and Scotland combined, yet despite providing this world city with clear leadership, the mayoralty has few formal powers, despite substantial informal powers.

"This will no longer do.

"Too much is controlled by Whitehall and measured by standards that don't apply specifically to Londoners, meaning our devolution settlement has remained weak with much room for improvement."

It is also proposed that the Metropolitan Police Authority - the governing body of the Metropolitan Police - should be replaced with a policing board.

The executive powers would go to the mayor's office and the London Assembly would take on the scrutiny functions and have a greater say in strategy development.

Mr Johnson also proposed that the City Hall should have more say in health provision in the capital and that the London Skills and Employment Board, which is headed by the mayor, should have the power to approve the allocation of the adult skills budget.

Mr Pickles said: "The new government is committed to genuine decentralisation of power.

"In London, this means transferring power and responsibility down from Whitehall and its quangos progressively downwards to City Hall, to London boroughs and to local neighbourhoods."

But Mr Biggs said: "Clearly the LDA has faced difficulties under both of London's mayors.

"But scrapping the LDA could just be cover for the savage cuts Boris Johnson and the coalition want to inflict on London's important employment and skills programmes.

"This is not the right time to be cutting support for the jobs which will secure London's recovery."

Dee Doocey, the Liberal Democrat member in the London Assembly, said it was "good to cut out layers of bureaucracy".

"But with more powers for the mayor's office, there must also be enhanced accountability for Londoners on the London Assembly."

What do you think of Boris Johnson's plans to increase his powers?

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