Anyone who talked to voters on the doorstep in the run up to the London elections will have found themselves explaining time and time again exactly who the Greater London Assembly (GLA) are and what they do. The problem is that with such large electoral areas – typically equivalent to three regular constituencies – assembly members have a low-profile and are difficult to hold to account.
Now the New Local Government Network has proposed an effective solution. In a new research paper James Hulme argues that the GLA should be scrapped, with its power to scrutinize the London Mayor transferred to a London Leader’s Council (LLC), consisting of the 32 elected council leaders in Greater London. Hulme argues that:
The crux of the problem is that, put simply, members simply don’t have enough to do to justify full time engagement….Through day-today interaction with their local communities, Borough Leaders would be best placed to offer first-hand guidance on the views and aspirations of ordinary Londoners.
Not only would this make both the Mayor and those who scrutinize him more accountable to ordinary Londoners, it would also save a great deal of the £8.7 million allocated in the 2008 Mayoral budget to run the London Assembly. In fact, the report estimates that removing the Assembly would save £6.6 million – that’s an extra 165 police officers on London’s streets.