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The Greater London Authority (GLA) is the city-wide governing body for Londonmarker, Englandmarker. It consists of a directly-elected executive Mayor of London, currently Boris Johnson, and an elected 25-member London Assembly with scrutiny powers.


The GLA is responsible for the strategic administration of the 1579 kmĀ² (610 sq. miles) of Greater Londonmarker. It shares local government powers with the councils of 32 London boroughs and the City of London Corporation. It was created to improve the coordination between the local authorities in Greater London, and the Mayor of London's role is to give London a single person to represent it. The Mayor proposes policy and the GLA's budget, and makes appointments to the capital's strategic executive such as Transport for London and the London Development Agency. The primary purposes of the London Assembly is to hold the Mayor of London to account by scrutiny of their actions and decisions. The assembly must also accept or amend the Mayor's budget on an annual basis. The GLA is based at City Hallmarker, a new building on the south bank of the River Thames, next to Tower Bridgemarker.

The GLA is different from the Corporation of the City of Londonmarker with its largely ceremonial Lord Mayors, which controls only the square mile of the City, London's chief financial centre. While the GLA has a modern constitution, the organisation of the City of London has barely changed since the Middle Ages.


In 1986, the Greater London Council was abolished by the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher. Many people have surmised that the decision to abolish the GLC was made because of the existence of a high-spending left-wing Labour administration under Livingstone, although pressure for the abolition of the GLC had arisen before Mr Livingstone took over, and was largely driven by the belief among the outer London Borough councils that they could perform the functions of the GLC just as well.

On abolition, the strategic functions of the GLC transferred to bodies controlled by central government or joint boards nominated by the London Borough councils. Some of the service delivery functions were transferred down to the councils themselves. For the next 14 years there was no single elected body for the whole of London. The Labour Party never supported the abolition of the GLC and made it a policy to re-establish some form of city-wide elected authority.


The Labour party adopted a policy of a single, directly-elected Mayor (a policy first suggested by Tony Banks in 1990), together with an elected Assembly watching over the Mayor; this model, based on American cities, was partly aimed at making sure the new body resemble the erstwhile GLC as little as possible. After the Labour party won the 1997 general election, the policy was outlined in a White paper entitled A Mayor and Assembly for London (March 1998).

Simultaneously with the elections to the London Borough councils, a referendum was held on the establishment of the GLA in May 1998, which was approved with 72% of the vote. The Greater London Authority Act 1999 passed through Parliament, receiving the Royal Assent in October 1999. In a controversial election campaign, the Prime Minister at the time, Tony Blair, attempted to block Livingstone's nomination and imposed his own candidate. In reaction, Livingstone resigned from the Labour party and in March 2000, was elected as Mayor of London as an independent candidate. Following an interim period in which the Mayor and Assembly had been elected but had no powers, the GLA was formally established on 3 July 2000. That same year the Art Director Gavin Lester designed the official logo for London.

Powers and functions

Executive bodies

Areas which the GLA has responsibility for include transport, policing, fire and rescue, development and strategic planning. The GLA does not directly provide any services itself. Instead, its work is carried out by four functional bodies, which come under the GLA umbrella, and work under the policy direction of the Mayor and Assembly. These functional bodies are:

In November 2005, the government published a consultation document reviewing the powers of the GLA, making proposals for additional powers, including waste management, planning, housing, and learning and skills. The result of the consultation and final proposals were published by the Department for Communities and Local Governmentmarker on 13 July 2006.


The GLA is responsible for coordinating land use planning in Greater London. The mayor produces a strategic plan, the "London Plan". The individual London Borough councils are legally bound to comply with the plan. The mayor has the power to over-ride planning decisions made by the London Boroughs if they are believed to be against the interests of London as a whole.

Energy policy

As of 2006, London generates 42 million tonnes of carbon emissions, 7% of the UK's total. 44% of this comes from housing, 28% from commercial premises, 21% from transport, and 7% from industry.

The Mayor's energy strategy plans to cut carbon emission levels by 20% by 2010 and 60% by 2050 (although achieving the first of these targets is unlikely). Measures taken to achieve this have included the creation of the London Climate Change Agency, the London Energy Partnership and the founding of the international Large Cities Climate Leadership Group.

The London Sustainable Development Commission has calculated that for housing to meet the 60% target, all new developments would have to be constructed to be carbon-neutral with immediate effect (using zero energy building techniques), in addition to cutting energy used in existing housing by 40%.

Political control

After the 2008 election, Conservatives had the largest representation (eleven members) on the Assembly, followed by eight from Labour, three Liberal Democrats, two Greens and one from the British National Party.



  1. Zimmerman, Joseph. "The Greater London Authority: Devolution or Administrative Decentralization?"
  2. We can't allow these tin-pot dictators to ruin our capital
  3. Greater London Authority may get a lot more power: ODPM opens consultation
  4. Communities and Local Government - The Greater London Authority: The Government's Final Proposals for Additional Powers and Responsibilities for the Mayor and Assembly
  5. " London - planning for climate change", London Climate Change Agency. URL accessed 20 August 2006.
  6. " Mayor's Energy Strategy", Mayor of London. URL accessed 20 August 2006.
  7. London Energy Partnership. URL accessed 20 August 2006.
  8. London Sustainable Development Commission. URL accessed 20 August 2006.
  9. London Assembly Election results 2008 URL accessed 3 May 2008.

See also

External links

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