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Good governance in London

Most people who visit London marvel at its rich and illustrious history, it’s amazing natural beauty, the many museums and art galleries, it’s amazing heritage buildings, entertainment and of course shopping. There is indeed a lot going for this beautiful city which draws millions of visitors to it every year. With record numbers of tourists flocking to the city annually it becomes a necessity to have suitable accommodation for them all.

London has just that! It offers the finest in luxury accommodation with some of the most iconic hotels. From budget accommodation to luxury hotels like The Marble Arch By Montcalm London, there are some of the best hotels to be found in the city.  Travel in London is a relatively pleasant experience with a well developed transportation system in a well planned city. There may be traffic congestion at times during peak hour traffic, but then that is to be expected in one of the busiest cities in the world. With trains running on time, well maintained buildings and parks and overall efficiency visible in the administrative system, ever wondered how all of this is possible?  The Greater London Authority or GLA plays an important role in ensuring that things work seamlessly.

The Greater London Authority or GLA

The (GLA) or Greater London Authority consists of a Mayor who is elected directly and an independently elected London Assembly that comprises of 25 members. Both the Assembly Members and The Mayor are elected for a term of four years. The first very first elections for the GLA were held in May 2000 with them beginning work from July the same year.

Its background

The former body entrusted with the task of local rule in was the Greater London Council (GLC) that was abolished after being in existence for 97 years in 1986. The first local government for the City of London, London County Council (LCC) was appointed by the Conservatives in 1889 and was directly elected. In 1963 it was replaced by the GLC as the city continued to expand both in population and in size, with the first members being elected in 1965.

In 1981 Ken Livingstone’s Labour Party gained control of the GLC, but his policies were not really popular with most people, which earned him the dubious nickname of ‘Red Ken’. The Conservatives who were headed by Margaret Thatcher at the time and who was PM decided to abolish the GLC and managed to do so in 1986. The Labour Party came into power in 1997, and fulfilled one of its principal pledges in its election manifesto to hold a referendum. This referendum was to restore a democratically elected authority for the city of London with a Mayor and Assembly. The referendum was put to vote in May 1998 with just 34 percent of London’s population turning up to vote. A majority of 72 percent voted in favour with The Greater London Authority Act getting Royal Assent in 1999.

The role of the Mayor of London

The seat of the Mayor of London came into being under provisions of the Greater London Authority Act in 1999. It was an integral part of the then Labour government promise to reinstate a city-wide government for the city.

Difference between the Lord Mayor and Mayor of London

The Lord Mayor of the City spends only a one-year term in office and his appointment is apolitical. He is entrusted with the task of overlooking the City of London’s governing bodies viz. the Court of Aldermen and the Court of Common Council. He also serves as the head of the City of London Corporation. The Lord Mayor has the duty of promoting UK-based business and financial services both in the country as well as internationally.

The Mayor of London on the other hand is directly elected for a term of four years. He along with the elected London Assembly members (also have a four year term) are accountable for the planned governance of Greater London. His areas of responsibility include civil defence, transport, fire services, police, economic development, planning, wealth creation, the environment and social development. Additional duties of the Mayor include activities related to promote culture and tourism to the city and the mayor is also responsible for smooth functioning of Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square and .

In the event of there being only two candidates for the post of Mayor of London they will be elected using the First Past the Post system. If there are three or more candidates, the Supplementary Vote system is carried out according to which voters cast a first and a second choice vote. Any candidate, who gets more than fifty percent of all the first choice votes, is elected.  If that is not case, the two candidates who polled the most votes in the first vote move to the second round, where the candidate who secures the highest total both in the first and second round votes is declared the winner.  If there is a tie, lots are drawn by the Greater London Returning Officer.

Functions of the GLA

To strengthen the functioning of the GLA, its Greater London Authority Act 1999 has been modified and updated by a Greater London Authority Act (2007). This gives the Mayor and the London Assembly Members more leeway in key areas such as housing, health, environment and planning. The new Greater London Authority Act (2007) helps to further consolidate the Assembly’s scrutiny powers and leads of an overall improvement in better governance.

The GLA is assisted in their duties by a pool of permanent staff. The Chief executive (the Head of Paid Service) oversees the duties and responsibilities of the permanent staff and ensures that they function efficiently and effectively.

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