“The Casey Report – a personal perspective
I have just returned from MIPIM, the world property fair in Cannes. I first went there as Marketing Director of London First Centre (the inward investment agency, now part of London & Partners) in 1997. Back then the positive standing of the Metropolitan Police internationally was an asset. London was seen as a relatively safe place to live, work and consequently invest in.
Now, the findings of the Casey Report have been covered on the front pages and screens of major titles across the globe – Paris, New York, Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore, Munich, San Francisco and Istanbul to name but eight. This is not to ignore the concerns of Londoners, those are clearly the priority, but simply to point out that aside from its primary purpose of keeping us safe, our police force also plays an essential role in how our city is perceived around the world.
So what’s to be done?
First and foremost the Met needs to come clean, in plain language. It doesn’t look good when the Commissioner accepts there are “systemic” failures yet argues the toss about whether these are “institutional”. This may be a significant point for spin doctors; the wider public won’t care what terms are used and I doubt it played well with the Mayor either.
Second, the Met needs to prove to us all that effective change is happening. The Commissioner would not be drawn on key details of his action plan and says we need to wait until the end of the month. In a way he can’t win. The bigger the numbers, the more shocked we all will be, yet if this means a real change, so be it. Clearing out the proverbial stables will also be hugely resource intensive and the Commissioner will need to ensure that the day-to-day is not neglected.
Third, the Met itself needs clarity about its mission and lines of accountability. Back in 2000 Professor Tony Travers of the LSE and I wrote a feature for the Evening Standard on the then-new GLA Act. We highlighted the inbuilt tension for the Met Police, with a Commissioner appointed by the Home Secretary and a budget set by the Mayor (who can also effectively sack the Commissioner). Casey is clear that the Mayor needs more power to hold the Met to account. I agree. This may of course lead to the break-up of the Met as we know it, to produce a city-focused regional and local police force, with international and national police functions sitting elsewhere. If this radically improves things, I think most Londoners would support it.
And fourth, the Mayor needs to get his act together in the leadup to the May 2024 GLA elections. Sadiq has, to his credit, “fronted up” with the media, but he will be under pressure to make progress - soon.
The next few months will be telling.”
Robert Gordon Clark, LCA Partner & Senior Advisor
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DAMNING, NO PRAISE
So what did Baroness Casey’s review set out to do, what did it find and where to next? The review was commissioned by the Met itself (more precisely its previous Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick) in February 2022, following a series of high profile incidents of criminal behaviour and abuses by serving officers. They appointed Baroness Casey, a crossbench peer known for her rigour and candour, to lead the review. Casey had also led a separate investigation into the murder of Sarah Everard and indeed this is only the latest in a series of investigations into the Met in recent years, albeit the most holistic. This one set out to examine “standards of behaviour and internal culture” and crucially, to “make recommendations on actions required.” Casey’s work has since revealed many more instances of racism, sexism, homophobia, bullying and abuse of power, as well as failures of both standing procedures and their enforcement within the service. Her findings (in full here) state that the service suffers from, among other things, “inadequate management” and “institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia.” She recommends “a complete overhaul and a new approach” that would be “on a par” with the transformation of Northern Ireland’s police force in the 1990s. Casey has not held back on her findings and recommendations in a series of interviews, from Sky News to LBC, but it is now for the Mayor, the Met, and the Home Office to decide whether – and if so, how – they will implement Casey’s advice. For her part, she has publicly stated her confidence in both Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley and Deputy Commissioner Lynne Owens.
Sadiq Khan has said he “expect[s] all the recommendations to be implemented quickly and in full” but he does not have absolute power to guarantee this. Mark Rowley is less clear about his intentions, pointing to ongoing consultation on his draft Turnaround Plan and saying only that Casey’s report will “play a crucial role in shaping those ongoing conversations.” Home Secretary Suella Braverman was similarly ambiguous, but made sure to state that “primary and political accountability sits with the Mayor of London” and notably questioned Casey’s use of “institutional racism” as “not a helpful term to use” asserting that “it is an ambiguous, contested and politically charged term that is much misused.”
The Casey review appears to have swept aside headlines on a potential banking crisis. Financial crises have a high degree of contagion but so far the spread of this one has largely been contained abroad, with US-based Silvergate Bank, Silicon Valley Bank, and on Monday Signature bank all collapsing, while First Republic has been propped up only by the intervention of other financial institutions and the Federal Reserve. Over the weekend Swiss authorities oversaw Credit Suisse’s absorption by UBS, bluntly described by the latter as “an emergency rescue.” Stock markets seem to have stabilised after a few volatile sessions, assuaged by central banks’, regulators’ and governments’ fairly coordinated response. The coming days will show whether those actions (with more key decisions expected today) calm the waters for good. Here in London, it is Credit Suisse’s predicament that will cause the most immediate concerns, not least for its 5,000 employees in the city. These are mainly based in Canary Wharf, with the press observing that this will be a blow for Canary Wharf Group and their shareholders Qatar Investment Authority. Indeed, beyond financial services, London’s wider property industry – which depends heavily on banks, domestic and foreign, as both lenders and occupiers – is understandably worried about the crisis’ implications for access to capital and demand for commercial property.
It is therefore doubly welcome that the City of London Corporation has joined forces with leading banks to “examine opportunities for the UK’s financial and professional services sector as well as identify areas of risk ahead” in a new joint initiative called Finance For Growth.
LONDON PLANNING ROUNDUP
Croydon and Havering Councils have both published Housing Land Supply updates, with the former stating that it can demonstrate a 5.3 year supply and with the latter stating that it can only demonstrate a four year supply. The Romford Recorder reports that as a result, Havering council’s planning committee decisions are to be subject to a “presumption in favour of sustainable development”.
Deputy Mayor Jules Pipe has granted planning permission for Berkeley Group’s redevelopment of Paddington Green Police Station in Westminster following a public hearing. The scheme was called-in by the Mayor in November 2021 after being rejected by Westminster City Council.
The City of London Corporation has approved Hershten Group’s plans to build a 32-storey tower connected to the historic Leadenhall Market. Aside from 27,000 sq m of new office space, the scheme includes the restoration of an existing 1930s façade, plus new food, shopping and event spaces, all linked to the adjacent market. Kate Hart, CEO of the EC BID (and LCA client), has welcomed the approval as “great news and “a testament to the benefits of this new cultural hub to the area.”
Westminster City Council has approved plans for a 50,000 sq. ft Guinness microbrewery at Old Brewer’s Yard in Covent Garden. The plans were granted consent in August last year but needed to return to committee following a legal challenge from the Covent Garden Area Trust (CGAT).
Plans for Westminster City Council’s Church Street estate regeneration scheme have meanwhile been redrawn following the introduction of new fire safety requirement by the Mayor for the inclusion of a second staircase in residential buildings above 30m.
- The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has announced Martina King as its new President.
- Emily Tofield, currently Executive Director of Communications, Marketing and Advancement at the University of Sussex, has been appointed as the new Executive Director of Corporate Communications and External Affairs at the City of London Corporation.
- Rob Fay, co-founder of Shackleton and former Colliers’ Head of London, has launched Londonsuper, a new retail advisory firm.
- Boris Johnson has been reselected as the Conservative candidate for his constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip (though his future is pending the findings of the Privileges Committee today) , while Primesh Patel has been selected as the Labour candidate for Harrow East.
- Job Alert: the London Festival of Architecture is seeking a Programme Coordinator for a 12-month fixed contract.
Three more developers have signed up to the Government’s building safety remediation contract. London Square, Telford Homes and Ballymore are the latest to sign the contract while a further eight are yet to sign and could face future restrictions on their development activities (though Michael Gove has not announced the details of the relevant Responsible Actors Scheme, expected sometime this week). Meanwhile, junior minister Lee Rowley has announced that the Recovery Strategy Unit, the team set up by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to investigate firms failing to carry out building safety work, has opened 19 inquiries. Elsewhere, DLUHC has launched a technical consultation on the proposed new Infrastructure Levy, which is intended to replace Section 106. Planning Resource has listed 24 ‘things you need to know’ about the levy, but there’s one that stood out for us: the levy, as proposed, would be introduced through a phased ‘test and learn’ process over ‘several years’ and just a ‘small number’ of local authorities will implement the levy in the first instance, before it is rolled out more widely.
THE WEEK FOR SADIQ
It’s certainly been a busy few days for the Mayor of London. Following last week’s Budget, Sadiq Khan has reportedly called for a meeting with the Chancellor and Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove to discuss further devolution to London after Hunt announced that Greater Manchester and the West Midlands will be granted ‘single settlement’ devolution deals, meaning that each authority will now receive a single funding settlement over the whole spending review period rather than being funded through several different streams. Separately, the Mayor also hosted the inaugural International Partnership for Healthy Cities Summit alongside Bloomberg Philanthropies, World Health Organization and Vital Strategies. The event brought together representatives from over 50 cities to discuss the ways in which noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries can be tackled. The Mayor also penned an accompanying piece in the Evening Standard with former Mayor of New York Michael R. Bloomberg, saying that ‘city leaders are uniquely placed’ to tackle ‘largely preventable’ NCDs and pointed to his own initiatives including the restriction of adverts for unhealthy food and drink on the TfL, as well as the expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).
LONDON GOVERNMENT FINANCE
Whilst – as we reported a couple of weeks ago – Croydon Council has finally agreed a budget, it is not out of the woods quite yet. In a carefully-worded written statement to Parliament, Levelling up minister Lee Rowley said that the Government is “minded” to intervene at Conservative-Led Croydon Council, largely pointing the finger at “historic problems” (read: the previous Labour administration) as the reason why his department is proposing an expanded “intervention package” led by the improvement and assurance panel already overseeing the Council’s efforts to steady its financial course. Meanwhile, the Government was not pulling any punches when – in response to a question by Conservative Cities of London and Westminster MP Nickie Aiken – the Prime Minister accused the “the now Labour-run Westminster Council” of putting its “own councillor's pay ahead of everything else” by approving “a staggering, eyewatering 45% pay increase.” As per coverage in the Evening Standard, the council's response essentially argues that Rishi Sunak’s allegations are rather… selective with the figures. Thankfully, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for London has risen above party politics in calling for more power and resources to be devolved to London’s local authorities. Hear, hear to that!
LABOUR POLICY LATEST
The Labour Party is most definitely gearing up for the next General Election, which is most likely set to take place next year. Following the publication of the Casey Review, Party Leader Sir Keir Starmer and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper held a press conference in which they said that a Labour government would ‘raise confidence’ in every police force, announcing measures to improve the vetting of aspiring officers and introduce specialist training. The Party will unveil their wider plans for policing and tackling crime tomorrow. At the weekend, The Observer covered the Party’s plans to emulate work done by the Democrats in the US through the Inflation Reduction Act which has heavily subsidised investment in green technologies such as electric vehicles, creating millions of new jobs. Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves has said that a Labour Government would start a new national wealth fund with £8bn of Government support and will focus on green industries in deprived areas, with specific regional targets for the creation of new jobs outside London and the South East.
ON THE CROISETTE
LCA was at MIPIM last week, with Jane Groom and Sarah Rawlings attending and chairing sessions as well as hosting an oversubscribed drinks event with our friends at Town Legal and a successful dinner.
The weather, as well as the mood, was a bit changeable. There was certainly more optimism than perhaps expected among UK delegates – despite Credit Suisse and SVB wobbles - and a lot of talk of collaboration and partnership to meet the challenges ahead. Cities made many guest appearances at each other’s events, with much emphasis on the importance of a successful London to the rest of the UK. Opportunity London’s first outing at MIPIM saw a number of Boroughs represented alongside LCA’s own Robert Gordon Clark, albeit wearing his NLA ‘hat’. And with the Budget landing half way through the event the live reaction to devolution deals was broadly positive, with a plea from others to be included.
LCA clients were there in force, from architects to developers with real estate firm Avison Young debuting a beachside pavilion and very successful programme of events, ably supported on social media and press by our Account Manager Fiorella Lanni.
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