The 32 London boroughs pay pretty hefty membership subs to an organisation called London Councils, an umbrella group that lobbies and coordinates. I think the subs are too high but it has done some useful work over the past four years under Conservative control and the chairmanship of Cllr Merrick Cockell. For instance it produced an important report on localism with PricewaterhouseCoopers suggesting that the policy could save £1.6 billion in London alone – such is the eyewatering level of wasteful duplication of the work of borough councils, Government Departments and Quangos.
As a result of the elections last Thursday Labour now has the largest group of authorities in London at 17, with the Conservatives controlling 11 boroughs, the Liberal Democrats with two and another two boroughs under no overall control. The London Councils Annual General Meeting will take place on 8 June.
Merrick has his critics among a few of those who comment on this site. But I think he has achieved a lot at London Councils – especially since the election of a new Mayor of London and the opportunities for the boroughs that resulted. We don't know what new Government is being formed or how long before another election. It's all such a mess I have rather lost track. I would have thought that a Con/Lib Dem deal would allow localism to proceed strongly while I can't imagine there would be much radicalism in that direction from a Labour Government clinging on for a bit longer on a Lib Dem life support system.
But I hope that one way or another some of the work that Merrick and his team at London Councils has done on localism will eventually bear fruit.