Brighton Calling!! It’s that time of year – Conference time!!!!

“Off to Brighton tomorrow night! I truly wish I could have got down today but it’s a measure of how busy I’ve been this past week that on Saturday night about half past six it suddenly dawned on me that… oh yes, today is my birthday isn’t it!

Very excited by some of the discussions we will be having in Brighton around constitutional change (surely requires a whole conference in itself if Iknow my fellow party members), the Middle East (my special subject) and particularly by Tuesday’s 9.00 debate on the devolution of
planning powers to local authorities. This is really in line with what I’ve been putting together in thinking about the mayoral candidacy. There’s nothing quite like living in London. We have such a dense population, and such incredible social and economic variations within tiny areas that it is imperative our planning strategies (a) look to the long-term future and (b) take the greatest possible account of the micro-circumstances on the ground. And what we’re seeing at the moment is actually decreasing powers in local authorities to make those critical planning decisions and an increase in the Mayor’s powers. Partly this is a result of the autocracy which has become a feature of this mayoralty, but it is also coming through operationally from the Housing Strategy.

The central aim of the Strategy is to build large numbers of cheap homes, which I applaud. Shortly before the whole mayoral race started I had justbeen appointed onto the board of Homes for Haringey, our local scheme for assisting first time buyers and Londoners on lower incomes with their housing, and I am committed to the principle. But urban planning in such a unique place as London just has to go beyond a panic response to the housing crisis. The consequences of the housing policies we are pursuing in this city now might be with us for hundreds of years. There isn’t a dialogue on how London should look in thirty years time and there should be one. Tuesday’s debate is bound to spark off ideas and tap into expertise that I look forward to co-opting into my policy-building. So off to the seaside.
Looking forward to seeing all there!!

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