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Beyond the myth of the city-state Tony Travers LSE.

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1 Beyond the myth of the city-state Tony Travers LSE

2 The impact of history on London’s government Long-term evolution of ‘lower tier’ government, fragmented yet competitive Regularly reformed ‘upper tier’ government: generally weaker than LBs in total Beyond the ‘GLC area’ [now GLA) cut-off by Green Belt No ‘regional’ tier [GLA is a city government] Whitehall also fragmented into many departments But crucial to London

3 Consequences of fragmentation Location of facilities impacted by the structure of government Issue of borough boundaries – Libraries at centre of boroughs; undesirable facilities near boundaries Skyline reflects fragmented decision-making Development is a complex business Barrier to entry by new players? Competition probably encourages development in some boroughs while restricting it elsewhere

4 Decision-making in London Often complex and slow King’s Cross; Battersea; Docklands prior to LDDC Mediation of pressures for unfettered development by both democratic and self-interested parties But can be fast and effective LDDC; Olympics Olympics shows how London can move fast and effectively Contract with IOC; national pride; massive public funding

5 Is London a city-state? Mayors probably see it like that London Plan the only ‘regional’ plan remaining Devolution occurred in London as well as Scotland and Wales thus, partly ‘constitutional’ Thus, different to the rest of England GLC/GLA boundary reinforces urban/rural difference Demography of London very different to UK as a whole

6 But, not really…. Devolution to London very different to Scotland, Wales London is an integrated part of England England is all the UK government has left to govern For ministers and civil servants, London is the most interesting and important part of their departmental responsibilities Whitehall would be damaged by a major shift of power to ‘devo max’ London No public demand, according to opinion polls

7 How much devolution to London would be possible? London has a bigger population than Scotland + Wales Bigger GDP than Scotland + Wales + Northern Ireland London requires different policy than ‘Middle Britain’ or ‘Middle England’ Good arguments for greater devolution over: Taxation, public spending Public service provision and regulation Planning

8 Challenge of effective and rational planning of London region There has never been an effective ‘metropolitan’ or ‘regional’ London government structure London boundary could be moved outwards Dartford, Crawley, Slough, Reading, Watford, Brentwood – ‘13m London’ Or Greater South East Possibility of interim mechanisms SERPLAN+; Regional assembly; TfL extended; Mayor as ‘leader’ of region?

9 Concluding thoughts London has endured and prospered for 2000 years But, it has good and bad times 1945 to 1985: relative decline to date: relative success Hard to see when a major change in fortune will occur – rarely predicted Need for the city to remain flexible and capable of change

10 Beyond the myth of the city-state Tony Travers LSE


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