Recent press announcements, together with leaked e-mails from the LDA and the GLA suggest strongly, much as predicted really, that the very sad loss of Simon Milton last week (blog 15 April) has seriously destabilised Boris’s mayoral team. As one of my correspondents puts it, rather bleakly, “The loss of the best thing about BoJo’s administration… Big project planning and budget negotiations – what hope now?”
A major reshuffle has been under way. It was rather inspired for Boris to appoint Edward Lister as his chief of staff and deputy mayor for planning. Eddie (as, I understand, you are no longer allowed to call him) will certainly bring experience and wisdom to the mayor’s team and expertise in the crucial areas of planning and development. And it should auger well for Nine Elms, of course.
Then Harvey McGrath announced: “The mayor has requested the early release of Peter Rogers from his role as chief executive of the LDA. This is to allow Peter to join the mayoral team to lead on regeneration, growth and enterprise.” I knew Peter Rogers when he was CE at Westminster when I was at Paddington and I have the greatest regard for his abilities. He is one fine person to get the trains to run on time. However, regeneration (as well as growth and enterprise) needs a blend of art and science, not just rigorous management. I will be interested to observe the chemistry abroad, as Mr Rogers takes up post in the summer.
But nobody in the world could have predicted that Lurene Joseph would take over at the LDA! Reading between the lines, this has to mean that the LDA has truly been set adrift now, whilst transport is finally being moved to more dynamic leadership under Isabel Dedring (and I wonder what she made of being portrayed as “alpha female” in the press?).
Of course, it is no coincidence that London First has been kicking off about the lack of infrastructure investment. Kulveer Ranger picks up the Environment portfolio (as one of my people said: “A swap of position that speaks volumes about priorities and potential election hot potatoes. Don’t hold your breath for carbon targets or the Green Enterprise District.”) Hmmmm.
Time will tell, but let’s hope things bed down soon, as you do get the distinct impression that the system is creaking. I feel particularly sorry for the HCA senior team, who must be feeling stranded between running the current HCA line and adapting to the new Boris line on housing (when Boris is being, characteristically, long on political rhetoric and somewhat short on substance).
My gambling adviser (every girl should have one, doncha think?), Ross Sturley, advises me that Paddy Power has odds on Boris getting re-elected in 2012 at 4/6 and Ken at 11/10. So, not a lot in it. But Ken’s chances of getting re-elected just have to be improving, and will certainly start to seriously improve if the current team begins to flail on big project planning and tough budgetary concerns.
Now, close friends will tell you (pretty emphatically actually) that I will never be in a position to proffer advice to Ken… but if I were, I would say this: learn from what is going on here. Beef up your cohort on the technical side (and not just with people you like, or owe favours to, or political journeymen, but with people who really know their stuff and can practice responsible tough love on developers) and get some expert depth into the team, from folk who will push back at you when you’ve got it wrong. The gene pool is just too small in London governance right now.
Actually, I would proffer this advice to Boris too: you’ll find that London developers (and this may go for most Londoners actually) do not really care what political colour anyone is, they just want a GLA team that is fit for purpose.