Greater London Council was abolished in 1986 by the conservative government led by Margaret Thatcher. Allegedly, this was done due to the existence of a high spending labor administration under Livingstone. However the pressure for the abolition started long before Mr. Livingstone took over and it was steered by the common belief that the outer London Borough councils could function just like the GLC. Following the abolition of the GLC, their strategic functions were transferred to other government controlled bodies or joint boards nominated by the London Borough councils. The country stayed for 14years without any elected body. In 1990 however, the labor party adopted a policy of a single directly elected mayor and an elected assembly watching over the mayor.
This kind of model was borrowed from the American cities setting and they ensured that it had little or no resemblance to the GLC. This labor party won I 1997 and this policy was enacted on white paper on March 1998.At the same time, a referendum was held concerning the establishment of GLA in May 1988, and was approved by a majority. The GLA received royal assent and was passed through parliament in 1999 it was thereafter formally established on the 3rd day of July 2000.
The powers and responsibilities of the GLA and the Mayor
The Greater London Authority (GLA) is a high administrative body for Greater London, England. It comprises of an executive mayor of London, who is usually directly elected and the current one is Boris Johnson; and a London Assembly made up of 25 elected members with scrutiny powers. This authority was established in the year 2000, following a local referendum. It acquires most of its powers from the Great London Authority Act 2007.
The GLA is a strategic regional authority that has powers over policing, transport, economic development, fire and emergency planning. It has four main functional bodies, namely; Transport for London, Metropolitan Police authority, London Development Agency and lastly we have the Emergency planning authority. These bodies are responsible for delivery of services in their respective areas. They make use of a London plan, where the planning policies of the Mayor of London are contained. The London plan is regularly updated. This authority gets most of its funds from direct grants from the government and some of the money collected from the local council tax.
It is quite unique in the British local government system mainly in terms of structure, elections and power selection. The main reason for its establishment was in order to replace a range of joint boards and quangos, and also in order to give the London local government an upper hand for the first time since the abolition of the Greater London council which took place in 1986.
The GLA shares powers with the 32-London boroughs council and the City of London Corporation. Its creation was facilitated so improve to the local authorities in Greater London. The role of the mayor of London is to give London a single representative. The mayor proposes policy and a GLA budget he sets appointments to the capital`s strategic executive. The primary duty of the London Assembly is to ensure that the mayor of London is able to account for his/her decisions, they keep him under scrutiny. It’s also the duty of the assembly to accept and or amend the budget presented to them by the mayor on yearly basis.
The GLA is located at city hall, on a new building on the south bank of the River Thames, next to Tower Bridge. The corporation of the city of London is quite different from the GLA. This is because the corporation of the city of London even with its largely ceremonial lord mayors, controls only the square mile of the city, London’s chief financial Centre, while the GLA on the other hand, has a modern constitution.
The GLA acts as a functional body and has a responsibility for transport, policing, fire and rescue, Development and strategic planning. However it does not directly provide these services itself, its work is normally done by the four functional bodies. These bodies and their specific functions are as follows:
Transport for London (TFL) , which is responsible for managing most of London’s transport system ,this includes the public transport system, main roads, traffic management and administering the city`s congestion charge. Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) which is responsible for the metropolitan police service which is responsible for providing policing throughout the London. The London fire and emergency planning authority (LFEPA) has a duty of administering the London fire brigade and is also responsible for emergency planning.
London Development Agency (LDA) is responsible for general development across London.
The GLA is also responsible for planning for land use and coordinating that entire procedure in Greater London. The mayor produces the London plan and he has the power to reject planning decisions made by the London borough if he considers them as not having the citizens’ best interest.
The mayor of London has been vested with new powers and the Greater London Authority, these powers are designed to devolve power to the regional level thus strengthen regional governance in London. These new power cover the following areas, housing, climate change, learning and skills, planning waste, culture, sport, media, climate change, health and energy and last but not least is the appointments to the boards of functional bodies. Most of these changes will require primary legislation in order to enact.
The GLA has a duty to promote the health of its citizens and consider the effects of its policies on the health of the people. It is therefore its duty to partner with others so as to secure health improvements and reduce the present health inequalities.
Policies relating to the environment
Boris Johnson was elected mayor of London in 2008, and in his manifesto he wrote that his dream if elected is to protect the local environment. He vowed to make London a safe place to live by nurturing and protecting the public places that bind all citizens together.
His environmental policies have various focal points one of them being the climate change whose main aim is to minimize air pollution by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring legacy facilities that are able to deal with the impacts of climate change. The other policy involved the minimizing of waste at every stage of the project and ensuring that no waste is taken to the landfill during games time.
He also encouraged the development of new infrastructure to process waste in East London. He also emphasized on biodiversity, which entailed minimizing the impact of the Olympic Games on the wildlife and their habitats that were within or around the games venues thus leaving a legacy of enhanced habitats where possible they could construct an Olympic park.
Boris aims at reducing the carbon level in the air and is urging people to use low carbon vehicles. His environmental programs will contribute to other prospects more to climatic change including creation of jobs reduced fuel poverty and improved health. His concern has been raised greatly by the fact that t e London roads are responsible for 30% asthma cases in children and air pollution according to statistics causes more than 4,000 deaths in London annually. Around 2,000 semi mature British grown trees were selected to form the root of the Olympic parks and these will become a home for wildlife after the games. These trees have been selected carefully so as to ensure that they are future proof against climatic change.
Mayor Boris formed an environment committee whose function was to review the progress of the implementation of the mayor`s environmental strategies. These strategies as mentioned earlier include: air quality, Biodiversity, Energy, Noise and waste. The committee also has a responsibility to review other topical environmental issues like climate change, flooding, managing London`s waste, green spaces, graffiti and nuclear waste trains.
London`s public sector is evolving and in the recent years, its rate of change has increased and has become more dramatic. There is a sufficient advice for the few responsible London citizens though there is still very little progress due to the presence of laggards. Laggards are those people in the society who oppose change; they are advised to learn from their leaders if so as to facilitate progress.
Everyone in London has a major role to play in moving from high energy use, wasteful economic model to an energy conserving one and one that minimizes waste. These climatic changes would result in wetter winters and hotter and drier summers, with an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, for example; heat waves, tidal surges, and torrential rain. These changes are also likely to impact on the economy, health, comfort and safety of the people of London.
The mayor also identified flooding as a possible risk therefore he included it in his environmental policies. London is quite vulnerable to flooding from the tidal river Thames, its tributaries, surface water could flood from heavy rainstorms and over flowing sewers. It’s observed that there is a decrease in the flooding cases reported. The mayor also started the lets recycle more campaign that was aimed at reusing wastes material. The introduction the London recycling fund contributed heavily to the increase in recycling as well as awareness raising campaigns that encourage Londoners to recycle more. This move was quite successful and it changed the way London waste is managed and it was an encouraging sign of progress toward attaining sustainable waste management. He also came up with the no litter campaign that contributed greatly in making London a clean city. He was more concerned with recycling of waste products, and decomposing them to get energy.
By this he was referring to the production of biogas from wastes; this biogas could be used to generate heat and power. He also came up with the environmental crime which can refer to a range of antisocial actions that harm and or spoil the environment and could impact on the quality of life. Some of these crimes include: fly-tipping, littering, graffiti, dog fouling and abandoned vehicles. All these could have health implications therefore a clean environment would contribute to improved health and sustainable development.
Most of the GSM gave similar opinions concerning the priorities of London. Most of the students supported the idea of low carbon vehicles. This was in support of Johnson Boris who argued that the use of such cars would play a great role in the purification of air hence the number of asthma cases would go down and the death toll reportedly from the carbon emissions would also decline.
They also support the mayor`s move to establish toolkits around the green procurement and renewable energy. These assist commercial and public purchasers to purchase and supply half a billion pounds worth of green products and developers are able to save about 400,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from their buildings. To them, this was a step in the right direction.
In their opinion, the public bodies have to put up their buildings in a sustainable manner so as to protect the environment. They are required to have Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) on construction of all buildings/ dwellings. Old buildings should be demolished and new ones put up in line with the sustainability requirements.
These new buildings now meet the renewable energy target which is the ten percent on-site. The mayor has put some modifications on his London plan and is intending to use in making more gains. He is considering exceeding the ten percent on site to a twenty percent renewable energy target. In their opinion the most significant improvement, which was highly notable was the public transport, renewable energy, recycling, and water and air quality.
The GLA is conscious of the growing number of sustainable development strategies and action plans that are published by the government and itself and the Assembly`s Environmental committee has undertaken various reviews of the gap that exists between rhetoric and reality, putting great focus on climatic change and examining local councils and the NHS in London. The GLA is also very keen to provide necessary advice to the members of the public in the effort to combat the environmental issues. The mayor is also trying his best to lead by example by taking part in tree planting activities in an effort to motivate the laggards and influence the community at large. The central government is also striving to meet the highest environmental standards so as to save and generate clean energy.
The GLA has installed solar panels in the fire station and combined heat and power systems in hospitals which are public buildings; so as to meet the challenge of climate change. They are also encouraging people to use less energy and water, and try to produce less waste and recycle and reuse the wastes they produce. The GLA and the mayor have tried to equip the public sector managers with the necessary legislation, targets, toolkits and voluntary agreements so as to meet the challenge posed by climate change. The Metropolitan police service is also making noticeable contributions to reduction of carbon footprint. The mayor should also consider expanding his green procurement code to include advice and access to green electricity.
The only significant threat facing this project is the shortage of funds in form of cash
Bespoke accreditation processes, usually done through BREEAM, have been established for public places such as schools and hospitals and other public buildings. These seek to empower the public sector managers to implement change.
Johnson Boris, the mayor; made a public commitment to deliver climate change and he has laid down a path towards a more sustainable development of the capital. It is therefore just to conclude the GLA are walking their talk. The members GLA are willing, mobilized and able to led by way of example on how to implement the mayor`s ambition on climate change action plan.
London is renowned for the protection and enhancement of its green spaces and water and also for its ability to reduce reliance on motor vehicle thus achieving a shift to more sustainable modes of transport.
Evidently, tackling climate change is the top priority of the mayor as at now. There have been major efforts employed in past four years, and indeed they have yield wonderful and enormous changes on the environment. It is in these four years that London has managed to practice recycling, river restoration, air quality, increase in awareness, action and performance.
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