Under fire Sadiq Khan’s powers as London Mayor could be re-examined
Sadiq Khan’s powers could be reviewed under plans under ministerial scrutiny.
The Mayor of London has come under fire for his leadership of the Metropolitan Police and Fire Brigade, both of whom have been embroiled in Special Response.
This week he announced an expansion of an Ultra-Low Emission Zone (Ulez) in August next year to cover almost all of the area within the M25. MPs warned it would “crucify” small businesses, but ministers admitted they were powerless to stop it.
Officials from the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities are currently weighing offers of decentralization from different parts of the country and have recently announced deals with Cornwall, Suffolk and Norfolk.
However, senior figures within government are understood to be keen to explore decentralization in the capital, particularly at a time when other parts of the UK are clamoring for greater local powers.
A Whitehall source told The Telegraph that Mr Khan “apparently has a good majority but the Met Police have taken special action, the Fire Service have taken special action and he is underspending on housing”.
The source added: “As we look at decentralization frameworks elsewhere in the country, it’s a natural time to review what has been done in London.”
It remains disputed whether a review of London’s powers would be an internal government analysis or a larger piece of work that might involve public consultation.
Police and fire brigade in special measures
The Greater London Authority (GLA) has powers over policing, fire and emergency planning, transport and economic development in the capital.
Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Police were embroiled in special measures after a series of scandals when Tory sources accused Mr Khan of “falling asleep at the wheel”.
The police watchdog told Britain’s largest force that it was deemed to have failed because of “high profile incidents” which had a “canceling effect on public confidence” in the force.
Her Majesty’s Police Inspectorate cited scandals including the murder of Sarah Everard by an officer on duty, the strip search of a teenage girl at school while she was menstruating and the stop and search of Bianca Williams, the athlete.
And last week, London Fire Brigade were taken into special action by a watchdog after an inquiry found the fire service to be “institutional misogynist and racist”.
It will now come under “enhanced surveillance” by inspectors, according to His Majesty’s Inspection of Police, Fire and Rescue Services.
It comes after an independent review published last month found the fire service has a “toxic culture that condones bullying and abuse”.
Under the Ulez expansion plan, motorists whose cars were manufactured before 2005 will be fined £12.50 to enter the city – prompting fears of a “financial wall” between the capital and the rest of the country.