Boy, I'm off the pace lately. I blame the kids. Anyway, following Peter Hendy's fury with Oyster consortium TranSys over the recent system failures TfL dumped them last week. Annie Mole was on the case.
A reader got in touch to tell me that Laurence Gouldbourne, Head of Equalities and Diversity at the MPA, had been made redundant "effective immediately". I'm told it "happened so quickly that no-one in the MPA seems to know any more detail than this - including his staff." I contacted the MPA to find out more and was sent the following statement:
"The Metropolitan Police Authority, in full discussion and agreement with the Head of Equalities and Diversity, and with the knowledge of the Public and Commercial Services Union and the Metropolitan Black Police Association, has undergone an internal restructuring which has resulted in the head of the unit being made redundant.
The MPA is determined that equalities and diversity are mainstreamed and embedded in all aspects of MPA and MPS business and we are committed to ensuring they remain at the heart of everything we do. This restructuring will help to ensure this vision.
New oversight mechanisms will ensure business units and work programmes are held to account for equalities and diversity delivery and this in turn will strengthen the impact of equalities and diversity going forward in an ever more effective way."
This begged a few questions, not least why this decision had been made and whether it was anything to do with Mayor Johnson. To the latter I received the answer "no", but was unable to extract even a crumb of further information. Can anyone tell me more?
A spokesperson for the Greater London Authority said:
"The GLA have employed an executive search firm to search for individuals to fill two to three senior positions. These essential roles will support the Mayor in delivering his vision for London and it is therefore crucial that highest quality of applicants are put forward for these positions. Executive search firms have the capacity, network of contacts in the specialist fields and the ability to approach a range of individuals about the roles in a confidential manner. It is expected that this process will enable the recruitment of exceptional individuals with track records of success in their fields of expertise. The cost quoted is the maximum payable, in practice, we expect the final costs to be less."
Joe Levenson was the GLA's community safety policy manager until November 2007. He writes:
"Resources must be targeted in high-crime and deprived areas, but with community support. It will be critical to get the London Development Agency to operate in a far more strategic and accountable way and to attract private sector investment into areas most in need. Johnson must also build relationships across the children and young people's voluntary and community sector to develop preventative work and not risk accusations levelled at Livingstone's administration of using patronage to support a handful of organisations."
When reading this interesting piece I began pondering the tensions between Conservative political rhetoric and reality. When does intervention become "nannying"? When does "targeting" become favouritism? When does spending on preventative work in deprived areas become "waste"? And at what point does a libertarian Conservative become an interfering social engineer?
A speculation over the Fourth Plinth continues, Jonathan Jones asks:
"Have you seen that ridiculous memorial to "the Women of World War II" on Whitehall with its empty overcoats, as if the artist designed it after an evening at Les Miserables (empty chairs on empty tables ...)? And how about the memorial to animals in war on Park Lane, dedicated to the soldiers "who had no choice" (unlike human conscripts in WWI?) and decorated with a hilarious procession of sculpted animals. This is London's dirty secret. The capital is purportedly in love with modern art. It's the place people come from all over the world to see the latest, newest, toughest work. But when it comes to public monuments, there is no artistic courage here at all."
It hasn’t been dull, has it? The first hundred days in power of the – sorry Dave - most famous and popular Conservative in Britain have been as engrossing and as chaotic as was widely predicted. They’ve been intruiging too. Characterising the new London mayor politically has proved quite difficult so far. At times he’s sounded like the impeccable social liberal he claims to be, at some others like a proper Melanie.
Along with criticism from greens, the liberal democrats and the left he’s attracted derision from the libertarian right – most notably over the booze ban – and from its authoritarian wing, with the Daily Mail heralding the resignation of Ray Lewis with the front page headline: “Boris: The Wheels Are Coming Off Already!”
But they haven’t come off yet, despite sometimes looking as though they might. And at times he’s given a fairly friendly critic like me – yes, trolls, at least three Tory AMs and one close Johnson lieutenant see me that way – reason for hoping he’ll achieve at least some good things during his mayoralty. Mind you, there have been other occasions when I’ve wanted to give him a good talking to. To illustrate these points, here are my best five reasons for being cheerful about Mayor Johnson moments and my five for being cross.
"Transport for London and the mayor's office are putting plans for around 60 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on hold, providing fresh ammunition for green groups which claim Boris Johnson's environmental record has failed to live up to his pre-election pledges. TfL released a statement earlier today claiming that a plan to "seed the market" for hydrogen-powered vehicles in London has been shelved due in part to a poor response from vehicle manufacturers."