WHO'S GOT YOUR VOTE?
London politics feature heavily in this edition of LDN, as the latest polling suggests Sadiq's path to a second term is not quite as smooth as it appeared a few months ago.
Meanwhile, a number of London’s Councils are holding Annual General Meetings this week and the next, with several heralding leadership changes and planning Committee reshuffles.
Besides politics in London, we cover the shifting balance-of-power in the Home Counties following their local elections earlier this month, City hall housing and planning news, the national picture for local government finance and building safety – as well as LCA’s Week, which has been all about mental health.
Read on for more on these and other stories, and if you don’t already, do follow us on Twitter and Instagram. Also, feel free to visit our website for more information on LCA’s team, services, and clients.
LONDON POLLING: 2020 ELECTIONS
Queen Mary University of London’s (QMUL) Mile End Institute has published the results of its latest London poll, conducted by YouGov. The survey of 1,015 Londoners (between 7 and 10 May) covered voting intentions for the 2020 Mayoral Election, European Parliament elections and a potential snap General Election. Pending the publication of the polls’ detailed results, reporting by the Standard, City AM, OnLondon and other outlets tells us the following about the upcoming Mayoral poll:
- Sadiq’s proportion of first preference votes has fallen from 55% to 43%, and Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey’s has dropped from 28% to 23% since the previous QMUL poll in December 2018.
- Conversely, Green Party’s Sian Berry is up from 7% to 16%, while Liberal Democrat candidate Siobhan Benita has seen her share rise from 4% to 10%; another 10% said they would vote for Chuka Umunna if he were to run under Change UK’s banner (though he has said he does not intend to).
- The above suggests that Khan and Bailey would then compete in a ‘second round’ where Sadiq would win 64% of first-plus-second-preference votes, up from 62%, against Bailey’s 36% (down from 38%).
- While Sadiq is still projected to win, the drop in his first preference voting intention score is relatively significant, as the December poll had suggested that he would have won on first preference votes alone.
- 45% of respondents said Sadiq is ‘doing well’, down from 47% in December. About 39% say the Mayor is doing ‘badly’, up from 36%.
- Over 80% thought knife crime has got worse over the past year – but only 10% blamed the Mayor, with 43% blaming the Government, 10% the judicial system, and 6% the police.
Meanwhile, looking beyond the 2020 London elections, the poll found that:
- With regards to European Parliament Election voting intention, Labour tops the poll with an anaemic 24%, followed by the Brexit party ( 20%), the Liberal Democrats (17%), The Green Party (14%), the Conservatives (10%), and Change UK (7%).
- If the above poll were to be reflected next week, then the 8 MEPs elected by London’s would probably be 2 Labour, 2 Brexit Party, 1-2 Lib Dem, 1 Tory, 1 Green Party and perhaps 1 Change UK.
- In terms of a potential General Election, the Labour party is down from 49% in December to 35%; the Conservatives are also down, from 33% to 23%, while the Lib Dems are up from 11% to 21%; no figures have been reported about the other parties yet.
- The above is broadly in line with national polling trends, though the falls for Labour and Tories appear softer in London than nationally
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
Sadiq and Shaun Bailey have been working hard to raise their waning profiles in recent days. Sadiq has been interviewed by BBC News, addressing what are sure to be crucial issues in the contest, such as crime, housing and transport. Another lengthy interview with the Mayor was published this weekend in The Times, which focused on the abuse and threats he receives and the fact that he is now subject to round-the-clock police protection. Meanwhile, Conservative hopeful Bailey has told the Standard of his proposals for a new ‘tourist tax’ to fund additional police officers. Bailey has also been interviewed by Guardian columnist Owen Jones, who pressed him about his somewhat controversial views on multiculturalism and women. Bailey has also told the Daily Mail that black and minority ethnic (BME) pupils do not want to be ‘part of someone’s quota’ but rather want their achievements to be based ‘on merit’.
ANOTHER HOUSING STAT SPAT
Last Friday, Sadiq announced that in 2018/19, the Mayor supported ‘a record breaking’ 14,544 affordable homes starts, including 3,991 at social rent levels and 1,916 council homes (the distinction between these two categories is not entirely clear). This is apparently ‘the highest number of new council homes in London in 34 years’. However, the GLA Conservatives assert that much of this ‘simply isn't true’. This latest spat over housing numbers, which are admittedly difficult to unpick from the data available, relate to whether the Mayor has achieved his target of directly contributing funds to achieve a minimum of 14,000 new affordable home starts in 2018/19. So who’s right?
The full figures for housing programmes that the GLA is responsible for, from April 2012 and prior to that the HCA (now Homes England), can be found here.
KHAN BITES THE BISCUIT
Sadiq has issued his latest call-in of a major planning application – his 15th since becoming Mayor three years ago. In February, Southwark Council’s planning committee resolved to refuse Grosvenor’s £500m plans for a mixed-use scheme in Bermondsey. The plans comprise 1,300 rental homes, a school, office and commercial floospace as well as community assets on the former Peek Frean Biscuit Factory site. In alignment with officers’ recommendations, Southwark councillors argued that the project’s 27% affordable offer, as well as aspects of its design, do not comply with council policy. They especially took issue with the lack of social housing. Grosvenor CEO Craig McWilliam reacted strongly to Southwark’s decision, arguing that the submitted scheme followed several years’ close collaboration with the council and local community, and that, as it stood, it couldn't viably support social housing. McWilliam further pointed out that the proposals incorporate an ‘upwards only review mechanism’ offering a larger affordable housing contribution if the scheme proves more profitable or less costly in the long term. Responding to the call-in, Grosvenor has committed to continue working with City Hall, Southwark Council and local stakeholders to drive forward the scheme. A date has not yet been set for a representation hearing.
PEOPLE MOVES: BOROUGH AGMs SPECIAL
A number of local party and Council Annual General Meetings (AGMs) are taking place this week and next, heralding changes to committees as well as, in some cases, borough leadership. We summarise below a few headlines but there will likely be more to come:
- The Conservative Leader of Barnet Council Richard Cornelius has announced that he intends to step down from the role. Current Deputy Leader of the Council, Dan Thomas, is most likely to be appointed Leader at the Council’s AGM on 21 May, having already been appointed leader of the Conservative Group.
- In papers released ahead of its AGM today, Tory-led Westminster Council has revealed that its Planning (Major Applications) Sub-Committee will be reduced by one seat. Additionally, the Council’s Planning Applications Sub Committees will be reduced from three to two.
- In Labour-held Hammersmith & Fulham, the papers published in advance of its AGM this evening suggest that Councillor Asif Siddique (Labour) will be replacing Councillor Rowan Ree (Labour) on the Planning & Development Control Committee.
Council AGMs are preceded by local party groups’ own AGMs and when the party is in power these meetings set the scene for subsequent proceedings in the full council AGM. The Haringey Labour AGM earlier this week was especially interesting in this regard, as it reportedly elected Councillor Zena Brabazon as its pick for Deputy Leader of the Council. Brabazon will be replacing Councillor Emine Ibrahim in this role, though Ibrahim is nevertheless expected to retain her Cabinet Member for Housing & Estate Renewal portfolio. It should be noted that Brabazon was one of two Cabinet members sacked on New Year’s Eve by Council leader Joseph Ejiofor. The Council’s AGM, expected to confirm the above, is set to take place on 20 May. Also in Haringey, the Labour Party has expelled Councillor Barbara Blake after she re-Tweeted content from Change UK MPs. This was interpreted by the party as a breach of rules regarding the expression of support for a political party other than Labour.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCE
The Government is gearing up for its 2019 Spending Review and the linked process of a Fair Funding Review for local government. There are no dates confirmed for either as yet but there is evidence of some movement at least:
- The Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee held the first session of its relevant inquiry. Its guests included the LSE’s Professor Tony Travers, who told MPs that the “scale, intensity and long time period” of cuts to local authorities across England since 2010/11 are “without parallel in modern times”.
- The latest edition of the London Intelligence offered further evidence that London boroughs’ frontline services have been impacted significantly by these cuts – and that between 2010/11 and 2018/19, council planning and development services budgets saw the biggest per capita decline, at 59%.
- It was widely reported that the City of London Corporation is to borrow for the first time in almost 30 years, though this would not appear to be a result of financial trouble as such. The City plans to borrow about £1bn, spread over three years, to help deliver a new concert hall, a courthouse and new City of London Police headquarters, relocate the Museum of London and consolidate its wholesale food markets.
- Finally, also on Monday, National Infrastructure Commission Chair Sir John Armitt called on the Treasury to use the Spending Review to commit to a “once-in-a-generation transformation of the UK’s transport, energy and technology networks”.
BROKENSHIRE SHELLING IT OUT
Despite having previously refused to do so, the Government has now announced that it will set aside a £200m to support the removal and replacement of unsafe cladding on privately owned high rise buildings. Over 170 such buildings, the majority of which are in London and Manchester, are still equipped with such cladding and Government figures show that work to remove it has begun on only 10 of these. The Government previously insisted that the removal of the cladding, found to be the primary cause for the rapid spread of the deadly Grenfell Tower fire, should be funded by the owners of privately-owned tower blocks. However, many freeholders and developers argued that they did not have a legal requirement to do so, while leaseholders often faced with picking up the bill (or part of it) expressed alarm at the unforeseen cost. Meanwhile, Inside Housing has recently reported that the Government is expected to launch the consultation on legislation implementing the recommendations of Dame Judith Hackitt’s post-Grenfell review of building regulations, sometime before the second anniversary of the Grenfell fire on 14 June.
HOME COUNTIES TO WATCH
Last week’s local elections in the wider South East saw many Conservative councillors lose their seats as a combination of Brexit and local issues benefitted mainly the Liberal Democrats and Independent candidates. There are now many councils surrounding London where there is No Overall Control (NOC) for any one party – many in Surrey, although Welwyn Hatfield in Hertfordshire has also stumbled into NOC. We will soon see whether Independents and Lib Dems in these areas can form coalitions to take control, as they may well do in Guildford, where they have enough seats between them to form a joint administration. There are opportunities for the Lib Dems in Woking and Elmbridge too, although in Tandridge they have formally ruled out being part of any coalition. One notable example where Independents have taken an overall majority of seats was Uttlesford in Essex, where we will have the chance to see a through-and-through Independent administration in action. As councils in the South East hold their AGMs over the next few weeks, parties and candidates previously consigned to life in opposition will now have an unprecedented opportunity to run their local authority.
WHEN LOUIS MET SLAM
Last Sunday on BBC Two, Louis Theroux’s latest documentary, Mothers on the Edge, was broadcast. It was mostly filmed at the South London and Maudsley (SLaM) NHS Foundation Trust’s Mother and Baby Unit, at the Bethlem Royal Hospital and LCA client SLaM has done a brilliant job promoting their involvement in the film which secured coverage in the national as well as local media. As world-renowned scientists, clinicians and educators, SLaM and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, at King’s College London, are on the verge of making radical advances, focusing in part on the prevention and treatment of maternal, children and young people’s mental health. Watch this space to hear more about our ongoing work to support them realising their ambitious new plans to achieve a vital step change in this area.
MENTAL HEALTH AT LCA
At LCA we have made an ongoing commitment to supporting our ever growing team and their mental health. So we are proud to be taking part in Mental Health Awareness Week this week (13-19 May) and the push for greater wellbeing in the workplace by signing up to support the #WheresYourHeadAt? Workplace Manifesto. We also now have two members of our team trained as Mental Health First Aiders to ensure that we continue to prioritise the wellbeing of our staff. This week we had one of our regular team lunches, getting the team away from their desks over some healthy(ish) food and tomorrow have four members of our team running the #HD5K – all part of LCA and our team engaging in the Mental Health Awareness Week theme of #BeBodyKind.
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LDN is put together by a dedicated team at London Communications Agency. The content for each edition is developed from news drawn from the last week from every London local paper as well as the regional and national press, from intelligence gathered by monitoring local, regional and national government activity and from the insight and expert knowledge of the entire LCA team.
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