Snipe - The Scoop

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Simon Milton on being the caretaker of London

At a talk at the London School of Economics last Tuesday Tony Travers said of former mayor Ken Livingstone that 'love him or hate him he had a well developed narrative for the city.'

Asked what the new Mayor's narrative would be Sir Simon Milton replied that he had 'never come across a Conservative or Labour way of sweeping a street.'

It was a telling comment and over the course of his speech, Milton set out a plan for London government without an ideology, and of his vision for a city without a vision.

Now I'm not saying he didn't express any ideas. There was much talk of 'economic sub-hubs' and 'polycentric development' and a dozen other ways in which the rim of the donut might get a little extra jam.

But beyond this I got very little sense of how a Boris Johnson administration will significantly alter London. 

It was as if they have been elected as street-sweepers and so it will be as street-sweepers that they will remain.

A New Broom

Asked what difference a Conservative government would make to his plans, he said that they would try and reduce the number of 'statutory strategies' that they were required to set: "it should be down to the Mayor to decide what the Mayor should do" he explained.

But listening to Milton, it was clear to me that he would be happy to 'decide to do' as little as possible to significantly alter the city at all.

Now there will be many who will be pleased to hear this. 

If you listen to Tory Assembly members at Question Time you will barely hear a question which does not mention stripping back the GLA to the 'slimline' version of it (they) envisaged.

But the problem with this, is that if all you do with a street is to sweep it, then the street itself will quickly fall into disrepair.

And if you don't have any new ideas for that street, then there will be plenty of others who will have interests in sweeping in with some of their own.




7 comments:

Karl said...

It's not very often the Standard reads like Tory Troll but today was such a day. Its nice to see at least one of the comments is a half-hearted attempt to blame Ken, but I think reality is setting in.

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23576904-details/It%27s+as+if+the+Mayor%27s+been+schmoozed/article.do

The Troll said...

If Boris stands for anything in the Standard's eyes it is standing up against high rise buildings and scrapping the extension of congestion charge. If he disappoints with that as well, then there is the real potential for a backlash.

Tom said...

"Sir Simon Milton replied that he had 'never come across a Conservative or Labour way of sweeping a street.'"

Hey, I'm sure I've read that over at the Yorkshire Ranter's place...

*rummage*

No, can't find it at the moment. Doubtless Alex knows who originally said it, but it was some Yank, from memory.

Of course, in London the *borough councils* sweep the streets, or rather their outsourced cleaning contractors do. That is, I suppose, the Thatcherite way of sweeping the street.

I'll stop now, shall I?

The Troll said...

"Of course, in London the *borough councils* sweep the streets, or rather their outsourced cleaning contractors do. That is, I suppose, the Thatcherite way of sweeping the street.'

I had the same thought myself. I was waiting for some wit to come up with a Labour way of sweeping the street though...

angelneptunestar said...

Oh well Adam, you are never going to be happy with anything Boris does, and if you think it is bad, you should be happy. You must think it will only clear the way for Ken to sweep back in his pomp,in a golden chariot, to reverse everything Boris has done and enslave any of us who has had the temerity to support and admire Boris.

The stars are not in his favour though.....

Tom said...

"The stars are not in his favour though....."

Well, that's a shame. I was counting on them, y'know.

Anonymous said...

London got back its elected government because it was recognised that there was a need for a body that would develop strategies for London. So the GLA is supposed to be about strategies for a wide range of issues (waste management, air quality, transport, housing and many more) not sweeping the streets. I do sometimes get the impression that my elected representatives (of all the major parties) would prefer to avoid strategic thinking: they don't like facing up to questions like "how will London cope with more people while meeting more stringent environmental targets?". But that's supposed to be what they are there for!