All change in the capital as Londoners return to a new mayor

The coming months will be the most important for Boris Johnson as he chooses his board members, says Jonny Popper.

Jonny Popper
Jonny Popper

London ret­urned from the bank holiday weekend to a new mayor and a whole lot of questions after fascinating results that showed London's polarisation.

The Boris team fought an exc­ellent campaign and succeeded in the only battleground that mattered - mob­ilising the vote. The outer-London ‘doughnut' saw support in such numbers that even Ken Livingstone couldn't overcome.

For London anoraks like myself, it is going to be an exc­iting four years and a fascinating few months. Little is really known about what Mayor Boris will do - he dodged questions on policy details throughout the campaign and his priorities - cutting crime, delivering more affordable housing and getting London moving - were the same agenda as the other candidates. So what can we expect now?

He has already started to assemble his advisory team. The GLA Act allows 12 personal mayoral appointments. As with Livingstone, this will be where the power behind the throne lies.

The first few weeks will see him ‘steadying the ship' and stabilising the leadership of the GLA Group and his four functional agencies. Many of the GLA's 600-strong staff are considered to be loyal to Livingstone in a way that national civil servants arguably aren't.

The new mayor also needs to appoint boards for organisations such as TfL and the London Fire and Emergency Planning Aut­hority.

There are committees that the mayor will need to sit on personally, from the Olympics and Crossrail to waste and housing. The Oly­m­pics provides an interesting dil­emma as he will be invo­lved operationally at the same time as his party nat­io­nally attacking the Government.

Perhaps his most immediate priority will be to consi­der the backlog of planning cases from the purdah period and to review the previous mayor's stance on a range of applications.
Finally, the Assembly is likely to be as impotent as ever, even if it is more noisy. 

The Conservatives now hold 11 out of 25 seats, so the opp­osition parties are unable to muster the two-thirds majority needed to overturn the mayor's budget.

The mayor of London is important in the capital and change always brings opportunity. From Ken to Boris, London is never dull.

Jonny Popper is co-founder and director of London Communications Agency

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