8 RETURN TICKETS TO BRUSSELS?
The votes are in, ballots counted and London’s eight newly-elected MEPs will soon be off for their (probably) brief sojourn in Brussels. Then again, who knows what will happen between now and 31 October, when the UK is supposed to finally leave the EU?
This week, we unpick the election results and consider what they mean for London politics. In other stories, we cover cabinet and committee changes in several London boroughs, key City Hall planning policies, as well as other news from the City, Southwark and LCA’s own week.
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Nationally, the Brexit Party emerged as the big winner of the European Parliament elections, taking 31.6% of the UK-wide vote and scooping up 29 of Britain’s 74 seats, more than Labour’s 10 and the Conservatives’ four combined (making the party the single largest political group from any EU country in the Parliament). The Liberal Democrats (LD) clearly benefitted, winning 16 seats, as did the Greens who took seven. Meanwhile, the SNP won three seats, Plaid Cymru one and three parties in Northern Ireland each took a single seat. UKIP was totally decimated, while Change UK also failed to win even one seat. It is also noteworthy that turnout was at only 36.7%, but up from 35.4% in 2014.
The results for the London Region paint a markedly different picture. Turnout was 41.3%, up from 40.1% in 2014. In the 2016 Referendum, the capital voted Remain by 59.9% to 40.1% and this latest election confirmed its pro-European leanings. As shown by the graphic below, the LD took first place, followed by Labour, the Brexit Party and the Greens. The Conservatives fared especially poorly in fifth place, Change UK made little headway and UKIP was almost wiped out entirely. The graphic below shows the results of the election for the London Region in detail – and you can find the names of its eight MEPs in the People Moves section further down.
Unsurprisingly, the Brexit Party led the poll only in London boroughs where a majority voted Leave in 2016, namely Bexley, Bromley, Havering and Hillingdon. However in Sutton, which had also voted to Leave, the LD managed to elbow their way to first place. The LD also polled first in some traditionally strong Labour boroughs, including Islington and Lambeth, as well as Tory bastions like Westminster and RBKC.
Campaign managers preparing for the 2020 London Mayoral and Assembly polls will no doubt spend the next few weeks dissecting this election’s outcome. We could not fail but notice that LD Mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita stood behind Vince Cable’s right shoulder as he hailed his party’s strong performance on Monday. Meanwhile, Sadiq has admitted that the result was ‘extremely disappointing’ for Labour. As for the London Conservatives’ Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey… he is nowhere to be seen in the immediate aftermath of the election.
LONDON PLAN LATEST
The London Plan’s Examination in Public (EiP) has passed a key milestone, following the completion of an 11-week public hearings process. Its panel of examiners will now sift through hundreds of written and verbal comments before delivering their report, sometime this summer. The 350+ page draft London Plan has unavoidably ruffled feathers. The Government believes its housing delivery targets are too low, while certain boroughs and academic experts conversely believe that its estimates of capacity for housing growth are unrealistically high. Several Outer London boroughs have meanwhile taken issue with its targets for housing delivery on small sites. Looking ahead, the Mayor has already made a number of ‘minor changes’ to the draft Plan and may (or may not) further amend it to reflect the examiners’ findings. The Plan will then go to the Communities Secretary, who may in turn direct changes to the draft Plan. It will ultimately be submitted to the London Assembly (which could, assuming an unlikely two-thirds majority vote, reject it).
Meanwhile over at the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC), the Examination in Public of their Draft Local Plan was supposed to already be over, but two further special sessions are being arranged to look specifically into the issues raised by Cargiant, with the first of these taking place on 6 June.
MORE AGM NEWS
Since last Wednesday, no less than seven London Councils have held their AGMs. As in previous weeks, LCA’s ‘borough specialists’ have been poring through council documents and attending AGMs across the capital to stay abreast of any significant changes. Last Wednesday, Hackney’s directly-elected Mayor Philip Glanville made a number of ‘tweaks’ to his top team, shifting around various areas of responsibility in an otherwise unchanged cabinet. Councillor Jon Burke notably gained the briefs of transport and public realm, in addition to his current Cabinet portfolio for energy and waste. On the same day, the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea made somewhat more substantial changes. Two new portfolios have been created, with Councillor Anne Cyron becoming Lead Member for Communities and Councillor Johnny Thalassites becoming Lead Member for Planning and Transport. Furthermore, Lead Member for Housing Kim Taylor Smith has gained responsibility for Property and Councillor Emma Will has been replaced as Lead Member for Family and Children’s Services by Councillor David Lindsay after six years. RBKC’s Planning Committee has also seen changes, with three new members and two new substitutes. Former Chair, Councillor Quentin Marshall, was removed entirely from the committee and replaced by Councillor James Husband.
Following the European Parliament Elections, eight MEPs have been elected to represent the London Region in Brussels:
- Three new Liberal Democrats will be heading to Belgium: Irina von Wiese, Dinesh Dhamija and Luisa Porritt.
- Labour has re-elected only two MEPs, Claude Moraes and Seb Dance.
- Ben Habib and Lance Foreman (also known as Lance Anisfeld) have been elected for the Brexit Party. Foreman, as some LDN readers may recall, is well known for his smoked salmon business in East London.
- Scott Ainslie will be replacing the long-serving Jean Lambert as London’s Green Party MEP.
- The Conservatives and UKIP, who previously held two and one seat respectively, have failed to return an MEP in this election.
Meanwhile, closer to home:
- Councillor David Harvey has reportedly resigned as Deputy Leader of Westminster City Council, as well as his other Cabinet responsibilities, due to a ‘potential’ conflict of interest. Pending the election of his successor over the summer, Councillors Rachael Robathan, Iain Bott, Heather Acton and Jacqui Wilkinson will take up his various portfolio responsibilities.
- Entrepreneur and former journalist Sonita Alleyne OBE has been elected as the next master of Jesus College, Cambridge, breaking new ground as the first black woman appointed to lead an Oxbridge college. Alleyne is a Board Member of the London Legacy Development Corporation, a governor of the Museum of London and a member of the Skills for Londoners Business Partnership Members Group, on top of her day-job as the director and founder of the Yes Programme online careers information scheme.
- Paul Williams last week took the reigns as Derwent London’s new CEO, succeeding co-founder John Burns. Williams’ promotion to the top job was initially announced last November and follows a long career at the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). He has been with Derwent since 1987 and has been a Board member since 1998.
It has been announced that Steve Robertson will be stepping down from his role as Chief Executive of Thames Water with immediate effect. Robertson will nevertheless remain at the utilities company until 30 June to facilitate a handover of responsibilities to Ian Marchant, who will serve as Interim Executive Chairman until a new Chief Executive is appointed.
ESTATE REGEN BALLOTS
In a recent written response to a question by Labour AM Tom Copley, Sadiq has revealed a number of interesting things about the implementation of his estate regeneration ballots policy, which came into effect in July 2018. As of April 2019:
- Five ballots have succeeded in securing a ‘Yes’ vote from estate tenants on landlords’ demolition and redevelopment plans, as confirmed by the GLA’s monitoring. Of these, four have been carried out by Housing Associations (in Barnet, Lambeth, Greenwich, and Bromley) and one by a Council (Ealing); all five have involved estates with less than 300 homes.
- The Mayor has admitted that landlords are not obliged to report a negative vote by estate residents and that City Hall does not keep a list of these.
- However, a list is available of no less than 23 projects that have been awarded an exemption from the ballot requirement on one of several grounds, such as ‘demolition of social homes required to facilitate a major infrastructure project/s’ or ‘required to address concerns about the safety of residents.’
Several national newspapers have picked up on the City of London Corporation’s announcement that it aims to implement Britain’s first 15mph speed limit, as part of wider plans to make the Square Mile’s roads safer and more pedestrian and cycling-friendly. The national limit for built up areas is currently 30mph and only some councils enforce a 20mph limit. The plans were approved by the City’s Court of Common Council last week and could be implemented as soon as 2021, pending the approval of the Department for Transport. However, most of the relevant press coverage seems to overlook the fact that the 15mph speed limit forms only a small part of the City’s first long-term Transport Strategy. Other initiatives forming part of this 25-year framework include co-hosting the London Walking and Cycling Conference with Hackney Council, partnering with specialist companies Freebike and Beryl to trial dockless cycle hire, working with AppyParking to launch a mobile app for disabled badge holders, and proposing the UK’s first large scale Zero Emission Zone covering central London. Of course, the last would require support from neighbouring boroughs in the Central Activities Zone (CAZ), as well as buy-in from the Mayor elected next May.
ELEPHANT IN THE COURT ROOM
It was reported last week that a legal challenge mounted by campaigners opposed to the planned demolition and redevelopment of the Elephant & Castle shopping centre is to be heard by the High Court on 17 and 18 July, delaying plans by the developer to begin works sometime this spring. Opposition groups including the 35% Campaign are challenging Southwark Council’s July 2018 decision to approve the plans, which were subsequently green-lit by the Mayor. The plans now in play comprise 979 homes in total, of which 35% would be at various affordable tenures (comprising 38% social rent, 14% London Living Rent and 48% Discount Market Rent). The campaigners will argue in court that the social housing offer does not comply with local planning requirements and should be significantly increased. Meanwhile, the campaigners still remain at odds with the Council and developer over the future of small businesses currently based in the shopping centre, alleging that less than half have been offered new space. Spokespeople for Delancey assert that that efforts to support traders are ongoing and that 10% of the mixed-used development’s retail space will be offered at a significant discount to independent businesses.
ARGENT RELATED LAUNCH TOTTENHAM HALE
As previewed in the Sunday Times earlier this month, Argent Related has now launched its first building as part of plans to create a new heart for Tottenham Hale’s district centre. LCA are excited to be leading the residential sales media campaign for the 1,030 home Tottenham Hale development after successfully supporting Argent Related through the planning and consultation process over the past two years. 1 Ashley Road, the first building to hit the residential market, is delivering 183 apartments designed by Stirling Prize-winner Alison Brooks Architects with interior design by Conran and Partners.
HKS ESPORTS LATEST
Alongside our work supporting HKS architects' London office on their communications strategy, media relations, and social media, we have also been working with them in the fast-growing world of eSports! HKS’ Sports & Entertainment team recently announced a collaboration with eSports organisation Team Vitality to design a new venue in Paris. We are delighted to have helped secure senior HKS designers Chi Bhatia and Dustin Sweeney’s appearance on the ‘Esportz Network Podcast’ with Mitch Reame, where they compared approaches to design for traditional sports and eSports, and delved into the exciting future of these spaces. If you’re interested in knowing more about the rapidly growing world of esports and digital brands in general, feel free to get in touch with LCA Consultant Sarah Rutt, as this will be the subject of the next HKS Perspectives event that LCA is supporting.
WHILE WE’RE ON SPORT…
London’s sporting prowess at more traditional games should not be forgotten in a week which sees a number of crucial events. The Cricket World Cup starts at the Oval tomorrow with England v South Africa and ends at the home of cricket, Lords, on Sunday 14 July, hopefully with England in the final. Looking ahead to this time next week, we will definitely report on at least one London football club winning in Europe – and perhaps two!
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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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