A typical day at the GLA

Committee Chairs meeting at the GLA. This is the first of this term of office and is an opportunity for the chairs of the various Assembly committees to meet to discuss budget items for scrutiny work and other matters. There is pretty consensual agreement that money spent on occasional consultants, polling on issues as they affect Londoners, London-wide expert seminars etc is money generally well spent, Actually, the Assembly spends a very small amount on anything. However, if you look at the Mayor’s expenditure…!

I raise the issue of a looming constitutional crisis if the Parking Enforcement investigation falls as a consequence of pressure from the boroughs. I believe we will be able to come to agreement at the meeting later this afternoon – but want to raise the issue in the generic rather than the specific. ie If the boroughs don’t like what the Assembly is doing and effectively veto it thus making the scrutiny work untenable – what is the legal position and more importantly, what is the constitutional position. I leave that hanging in the air as we all rush off for Assembly Plenary Session.

This session of the London Assembly is on the Olympics. Seb Coe is the star turn – but we get a message just before commencement that his father has been taken ill and he cannot therefore attend. We plough on with the Mayor and reps from the Olympic Bid committee. No news really. We all support the bid. The Tories then undermine their support by being over negative about the bid. Not the most scintillating of sessions.

Informal meeting of the Transport Committee to look at the first draft of our response to the consultation on the West London tram. My mission here is to try and get the five political parties to agree that this response should reflect the evidence we received rather than be just an opportunity for us all to restate our party positions on the tram. A consensual report raising the concerns we genuinely have will be far more useful and effective than a political rant. We can all do that in our separate party responses to the consultation.

Anyway – so far so good. The draft is well written – and when chapter 5 is concluded (at this point unwritten and about traffic displacement) we will meet again to see if we have enough common ground for a unified response. Otherwise it will have to be the majority think x and the minority think y – which is OK – but I think loses its punch.

High noon at the London Assembly. The three political party leaders (or their reps) came with officers to meet myself, and the Labour and Tory transport leads from the Transport Committee to see if there was a way forward on the parking scrutiny – with ALG/borough cooperation.

The main issues seemed to be that the ALG (the Association of London Government) felt that the Assembly should not examine areas where the boroughs had been democratically elected to operate in an area. Whilst I understand the sensitivities, the remit of the London Assembly is to raise issues of importance to Londoners as well as scrutinise the Mayor and TfL. This scrutiny had passed through all the appropriate and public stages to reach this stage and had been unanimously approved. And parking is unquestioningly of importance as an issue for London.

The second area where they were unhappy was because of remarks I had made in the media which to them seemed to indicate I might have made up my mind in advance of the scrutiny. All I can say about that is that the boroughs didn’t like the bits about my suggesting if they didn’t want to comply with the scrutiny they may have something to hide – but as I pointed out – equally, motorists who thought they had a hard deal might interpret the fact that I am on record as saying I support restriction, penalty and fine as biased against them. Both are wrong.

I believe I assuaged their concerns and both my Labour and Tory colleagues backed me up as being a fair and scrupulous chair.

We then moved onto business – and we were quite happy with the ALG’s suggestions for amended terms of reference. All parties will now go back to their groups for agreement and hopefully that will go through the next Transport Committee and finally get the show on the road.

Day ends off with stuffing envelopes for our council by-election in Haringey. The fun never ends…