News story

Review of democratic oversight of London’s fire service

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A consultation seeks views on proposals to improve the governance of London's Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.

A consultation has been published today (17 June 2014) seeking views on the Mayor of London’s proposals to improve the democratic governance of London’s Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, to bring it in to line with London’s other strategic bodies - transport, police and Olympic legacy.

It is important that any governance system, especially one that controls large sums of taxpayers’ money, has accountability at its heart. The Mayor considers the current governance arrangements dysfunctional and lacking clear accountability to the electorate.

The government has accepted that there could be scope for reform and is asking for views on whether the Mayor’s proposal might deliver a more optimal membership for the Authority.

The Mayor is directly elected by Londoners to run its citywide services and Londoners can hold the Mayor to account for his actions. The function of the London Assembly is to scrutinise the Mayor’s decisions and actions.

The consultation asks whether consideration should be given to of a greater degree of input from the Office of the Mayor that could redress this democratic deficit.

The current 17 board members, while elected politicians in their own right, are not directly elected to their role and, as a result, the Mayor considers they hold no mandate or electoral accountability to Londoners for the decisions they take in that capacity.

Background

The Mayor of London has requested that the Secretary of State use his powers under Schedule 28 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 to amend the membership of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.

The Mayor is not requesting a change in the overall number of 17 but rather in the composition of the membership. He has asked that the number of Mayoral appointees be increased from 2 to 6. The number of Assembly Members would become 6 and the number of London Borough Councillors would be 5.

In presenting his case for change, the Mayor has considered the results of a consultation (PDF,1.23 MB) undertaken by the Greater London Authority with London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority Members, London Assembly Members, London Borough Leaders, London MPs and the London branch of the Fire Brigades Union.