By Claire West
Boris Johnson will take the leading role in ensuring London's preparedness in an emergency.
The decision follows months of detailed negotiations with ministers to ensure the capital is in the best position possible to cope with any crisis, and clarifies the roles of various vital agencies, following the Government's recent decision to dismantle the Government Office for London (GoL).
City hall will now take responsibility for pan-London resilience planning in the capital, and the GLA will become a Category 1 Responder under the Civil Contingencies Act. That means the organisation will be responsible for risk assessments, business continuity, emergency planning and the role of maintaining public awareness in relation to arrangements for emergencies.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “We all hope for the best but must plan for grim contingencies. These plans will ensure that London has strong and clear leadership in any crisis. They clarify the vital roles played by different agencies but put the democratic government of London at the heart of the decision making process. We are the hub, we are the heart and we are accountable to all Londoners.”
“London is home to more people than many EU member states. Our population is as large as Wales and Scotland combined, yet despite providing this world city with effective leadership, the Mayoralty has historically benefitted from few formal powers, despite substantial informal powers, including resilience planning. I continue to make my case that this will no longer do and am delighted by today’s decision to formalise the transfer of responsibility for London’s resilience to City Hall. It shows exactly the right confidence in City Hall from Government and is a recognition that in the past too much has been controlled by Whitehall. There is no more room for a weak settlement for London”.
The pan-London planning and exercising functions of the GoL London Resilience Team will be handed over to the GLA meaning that the Mayor takes on key responsibilities for London’s ability to respond to major disruptions in the capital, especially in the lead up to the 2012 Games, through the London Resilience Partnership and London Regional Resilience Forum.
The London Regional Resilience Forum (LRRF), which is the principal mechanism for multi-agency co-operation at the pan-London level, was previously chaired at ministerial level and will now be chaired by Richard Barnes, the Deputy Mayor of London, and chair of the London Assembly 7 July Report. The Forum will continue to define the strategic direction for the London Resilience Partnership (the partnership between the Government, the Mayor and all the capital’s key responding agencies).