my view Londoners were spoiled for choice in this election. Livingston
knew his job, was open to criticism and also to ideas. He was a brave
mayor. Boris was offering a new approach and as he said, truthfully,
not about to undo the best of Livingston but keen to make some changes.
a terrible moment some days before I though the elaborate voting
mechanism might land London with Paddick but no, we have got a clear
winner in B. Johnson. Nice to have a fellow who speaks his mind so we
know what's in it. He is clearly a man who has his eyes and ears
functioning and tries to absorb reality and deal with what he finds,
rather than project some inner nightmare of his own on the rest of us.
have only two suggestions for Boris for the moment: sell the bendy
buses to some town or purpose where they are suitable - for London they
are a disaster - and give every car owner 2 or 3 fixed cheaper
congestion charge days in a week, separating the known frequent users
in half with alternate days . That will really reduce congestion and
help everybody including traders. The system does not have to be
perfect, the bugs can be ironed out over time. It has been thought
through and it will work.
and his team will naturally have their work cut out avoiding elephant
traps set up by all those who were happy with Livingstone and had found
ways to make a living in Livingstonia, who now find themselves looking
for other solutions at a time of great uncertainty. Boris has said he
is going to make dealing with crime in London a priority. It will be
interesting to see which category of crime he focuses on first.
JULY 4th 2008
The answer to my last question above was Violent Street Crime.
The man Boris chose to head up the move to deal with htis is
Deputy Mayor Ray Lewis. But a pattern is emerging as I suspected.
Boris's team comes under fire
whenever there is a possibility of digging up anything less than
crystal clear and shiny. Ray Lewis is the latest target.
Lewis calls it nit-picking but that is what much of politics these days
is about, so suspicious are the public and the media that the smallest
nit is really a cancerous crab of corruption. It does appear that Lewis
has been very casual about his status, and I can see why. He has spent
a life more engaged with the real coal-face of reality, taking his
status for granted. If there has actually been misconduct this needs
to be established.
AUGUST 8th 2008
Boris has scrapped the plan to pedestrianise Parliament Square - it
would have to have been scrapped anyway as it made no sense at all. He
has also scrapped the plan for a range of hydrogen powered vehicles to
supply transport within the City. He has done this on the advice of
Transport for London scientists who say the technology is not up to it
yet. This is probably the correct decision. While it is necessary for
pioneers and developers to work hand in hand with an initial customer
in order to justify the investment required it is probably not the
moment for London Transport to use its budget in this way. There are
other pressing priorities as the 2012 Olympics approach. The Green
Lobby will moan but he has probably taken the right decision.
OCTOBER 3rd 2008
It has been clear for some time that Boris wanted to have a new
Commissioner of Police, but getting Sir Iain Blair to resign without
discussing this with the Home Secretary is a very big breach of
regulations and, if we can be said to have a constitution, of that
itself. Boris is a classic example of one whose bravery is difficult to
evaluate on occasions. Brave he is, but is this just due to a failure
of sensibility? Well, it is done now, as the man has resigned. I think
the Commissioner did an amazing job over the years. Some say he was as
unaware as I am now suggesting Boris is. Perhaps the truth is the world
needs both such men to have their exits and their entrances as history
and nature requires of them. There will be consequences. There are
local, London responsibilities for the Met, but also National
responsibilities. The Mayor of London has no business making changes
that affect national matters to that extent without conferring with the
government (or even the Queen!)
OCTOBER 24th 2008
There have been complaints in the House of Lords about Mayor
decision to scrap the pedestrianisation of Parliament Square, a plan of
the former mayor Ken Livingston (see August 8th above). Tough. The
Lords supported the establishment of the post of Mayor and must live
with his decisions. In any case, the claim that 'the traffic is
unwelcoming for visitors' wold be an absurd reason for causing gridlock
throughout the West End.
NOVEMBER 5th 2008
The following initiative is remarkable. It would be interesting to know
who formulated it. "Architects of the scheme" covers their identity in
the report below. It should do more than provide food. It should spread
the knowledge of food and vegetable growth amongst a generation who may
have tended to ignore it in the urban environment. The quality of the
advice given will be critical.
Londoners urged to grow own food
Londoners are being
encouraged grow their own food as part of a new campaign by the mayor
Boris Johnson's Capital Growth
scheme will give financial and practical help to groups to grow their
Organisations like councils,
schools, hospitals, housing estates and
parks are expected to open up their land for the initiative.
The campaign aims to transform
2,012 pieces of land in the city suitable for growing food by 2012.
Residents in Blenheim Gardens in Brixton, south London, are among
the first group to pledge their support for the move.
The estate will see food being grown on flat roofs and balconies
and on communal land.
Bonnie Hewson, who lives on the estate said: "Residents on my
estate are very excited about Capital Growth.
children to older people will be growing more of their own fresh food."
Architects of the scheme said boosting the amount of locally grown
made economic sense at a time of rising food prices.
It also had a range of health and environmental
benefits, such as improving access to nutritious food in urban areas
and helping to increase flood protection, said London's mayor Boris
"It will help to make London a greener, more pleasant
place to live whilst providing healthy and affordable food," he said.
The London Development Agency is funding the pilot scheme at a cost
of £87,000 until March 2009.
NOVEMBER 24th 2000
Mayor outlines key culture plans
The Mayor of London Boris
Johnson has outlined plans to enhance
Londoners' experience of arts and culture in the city over the next
In his paper he
includes plans for a major celebration of London's people, past,
present and future, which is set to take place next June.
Other plans involve a drive to
improve music education for young people.
Mr Johnson said Londoners must
capitalise on opportunities offered by the 2012 Olympic Games.
The plans include jazz performances in the outer boroughs using
received by the London Jazz Festival, and a London Film Day working
with Film London.
Mr Johnson's paper, called "Cultural Metropolis - The Mayor's
Priorities for Culture 2009-2012", said the Games should be used as a
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop a high-quality cultural
It said that could be achieved through projects such as
the art commissions which are expected to be integrated into the
Mr Johnson said: "I want to maintain the capital's status as one of
the great world cities for culture and creativity."
He added: "I want to see better access and provision for people in
the outer boroughs, where it can be very patchy.
"And we must capitalise on the opportunities offered by the 2012
Games to create a cultural legacy for all Londoners."
NOVEMBER 28th 2008
Boris has decided o scap the western extension of the Congestion
Charging zone. Although I was very dubious about this extension, this
is not the way to achieve what he wants. In some ways the system works,
it just needs a massive tweak to give users 3 cheap days a week at half
price, half of them on Mon, Wed and Frid, the others Tue, Thurs and
Sat. Of course this will be a very rough allocation but that couldn't
matter less. The default situation for anyone who has not settled down
with a vehicle registered with the system will be as now: no cheap
days. Those who want cheap days will make the effort. I have heard all
the possible reasons why not and they are all trivial.