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Livingstone calls for abolition of London boroughs

At a meeting of the West London Business Forum on 28 February 2012 the Labour candidate for Mayor of London Ken Livingstone proposed that the existing London boroughs should be abolished.

He said:

“I don’t think they are the right size for purpose now. I’d sweep the lot away and have five large sliced boroughs with real powers."

This follows on from the previous proposals of Ken Livingstone for the London Boroughs to be abolished and replaced with five sub-regions (Local Government Chronicle, 2 October 2003).

Local Government Minister Bob Neill says:

As you may know, the 2004-06 Commission on London Governance (I should declare an interest as the Deputy Chairman) examined these proposals and rejected such plans, reflecting cross-party concerns that it would be expensive, time-consuming and a significant distraction.

One of the first acts of the Coalition Government was to introduce the Local Government Act 2010 which halted restructuring in Devon, Norfolk and Suffolk. Prior to Parliament’s intervention, such restructuring was proving divisive and wasteful – pitting council against council, councillor against councillor, diverting time and resources from improving frontline services.

Restructuring is counter-productive. Yet there is certainly great scope for more joint working, especially in back office services. Initiatives like the tri-borough arrangements with Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster are already delivering savings for the taxpayer.

Ken Livingstone’s proposals for the imposition of five sub-regional councils would mean that Ealing is merged with boroughs such as Brent, Harrow, Hounslow and Kensington & Chelsea.


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