Wednesday, 20 August 2008

As Tim Parker ships on out, Simon Milton sails on in

If any one man can be said to have Tim Parker's blood on his hands this morning, it is Boris Johnson's other Deputy, Sir Simon Milton.

When Milton met the London Assembly last month, he was asked why he had taken so long to accept a full time position. Milton replied:

I am probably to blame for that. The Mayor wanted me to come in full time from the beginning but I found that hard to agree to at first. But now I have decided that my place is here.

So what changed? Certainly nothing at the LGA who were pretty peeved to see him go. Nor at City Hall where lawyers continued to insist that his position as informal advisor was (just about) legal.

What did change it seems, was the job offer on the table. 

Because when Milton's name first came up in May it was as an executive Director of Planning. 

However, when it was pointed out that his roles at Westminster Council and the Local Government Association precluded him from the job, he was demoted to an informal advisor.

With his powers suitably stripped, Tim Parker was then brought in, largely to fill the void. 

At his confirmation hearings with the Assembly, Parker spoke passionately (a little too passionately perhaps) about his desire to bring in affordable housing.

But when Milton of Shirley Porter fame, started to informally stretch his own informal powers from his informal office in City Hall, there was inevitably going to be a clash.

And when Milton decided that his 'place is here' he was dutifully handed many of the planning and policy powers which Parker had already been lined up for.

Arise Sir Milton

That Milton was on a power grab became even clearer last week when it was revealed that Boris would not be employing a Housing Advisor, despite his earlier promises. 

This role like many of Parker's will now be exercised by Milton.

In a memo sent to all City Hall staff yesterday Boris Johnson confirmed:

"As you may by now have observed, Tim Parker has relinquished his role as First Deputy Mayor and Chief Executive of the GLA.

"I am hugely grateful to him for his help and support over the last couple of months, and he will continue to be giving me advice as a member of the board of TfL.The key factor in our decision – and yes, it was a joint decision – is that it has become quite obvious to both of us that the Mayor must chair TfL. This body is not just a major London employer. Decisions taken by TfL have an impact on the lives of millions of Londoners, and there must be direct political accountability.

"We will also be taking forward Tim's work on restructuring the GLA. He has come up with some excellent ideas, and these will now be developed by Simon Milton, who will be assuming greater responsibilities within my office, together with the interim Head of Paid Service, Jeff Jacobs. This plan will now be put into effect next month."

So as Parker packs up his suitcase, no longer able to 'make the difference' he wanted to, spare a thought for the new lord and master of City Hall. Farewell one and all to Prince Parker and arise my lords to Sir Milton.


Will of the West said...

So Lewis has gone and Parker has gone and we're left with little more than Westminster's own Shirley Porter brigade. Fantastic!

City Hall isn't in charge of Cemetries by any chance is it?

The Troll said...

No, that's still in the hands of the boroughs Will. Lord knows Boris doesn't need any more responsibilities.

Chris said...

This is getting more and more like a huge game of Cluedo with several missing pieces-

It was the Tory councillor in the planning committee, with the rope...

angelneptunestar said...

"Parker's blood on his hands." Aren't you being a bit dramatic? Apparently Tim Parker is staying on as an advisor, still working for free and is going to stay on the board.

An article in today's Standard said it was more a question of Boris wanting to take the reins into his own hands as the head of TfL. This is what you guys have always wanted, there can be only one Mayor and as a highly successful businessman, Tim Parker knew little about local government.

Boris intends to be the Mayor in all senses of the word, and that is something we can only be happy about.

pastyface said...

the thing that's bothering me is that if you want to be Mayor of London why not stand.

Was Milton on the possible Tory candidate list when they couldn't find anyone to do it?

Boris was forced to stand to resurrect his political career. What was Milton's reason for not standing?

He was a prospective Tory candidate for Leicester East back in 1997. Can he not make the step up?

Helen said...

The silk stocking and the orange, surely?

angelneptunestar said...

Helen what does that mean, the silk stocking and the orange?

Boris didn't need to resurrect anything. David Cameron wanted a sure fire winner, someone with brains who had massive popular appeal. Boris fitted the bill. i know he wasn't the first choice, but he was the best choice.

pastyface said...

I've been contemplating everything thats gone on the last few weeks with the takeover of City Hall by Westminster council and I recalled something.

What is happening to the £4billion promised by central government only last year for affordable homes. I've a feeling it was to be spread over from 2007 (late) and 2011.

With no housing advisor and one of Shirley Porters men at the helm will this money be spent elsewhere or what.

Don't know whether you would have the answer to this but its just been bothering me.

The Troll said...

Simon Milton was asked about this at his first meeting with the assembly. You can watch it here if you've got a spare hour to lose.

Basically the £4bn will more than pay for the 50,000 affordable homes promised, so there is some debate about whether that target is too low. This is something I will be going into more over the coming weeks and I believe the Mayor's housing strategy should be coming out soon.

pastyface said...


I'll keep an eye for his 'strategy'