Since may 2000 London has had it's own mayor and this set the blue print for
elected mayors elsewhere in the UK. The London Mayor is quite different to the
historic but largely ceremonial role of the 'Lord Mayor of London'. The London
mayor does not have the full powers of other city mayors such as in New York but
nonetheless has a large say in a huge range of matters concerning London such as
transport, policing, emergency services and cultural and economic development.
He also has tax raising powers via the London precept, this is an add-on to the
local council tax specifically to fund the London Mayor.
The first London Mayor
was Ken Livingston who was then re-elected in 2004. Ken Livingston is best known
for introducing the London congestion charge which is very controversial with
Londoners as well as other traffic calming measures that have had a large impact
on journey times for car users in the capital.
In 2008 Boris Johnson became London second mayor defeating Ken Livingstone into
second place in the election.
The London Mayor now has control
of the London tube system which is now run as a private-public partnership to
bring in the funding required for the tube system. The London mayor answers to
the London Assembly, a body of 25 members elected to oversee the running
of the office of London Mayor.
Whether London actually required a mayor or not remains a hot topic of debate.
All the current roles the mayor performs were covered by other bodies. One train
of thought says that Tony Blair decided to setup the mayor system in order to
delegate out many of the measures he wanted to bring in but didn't want direct
association with. There's no doubt that having a mayor means a real term
increase in local taxes and can be seen as a way of raising extra funding while
disassociating that tax increase from the government. For a map and explanation of
London constituencies and the London Assembly click here.