By Joe Talora, local democracy reporter
Labour will not have any members sit as chairs or vice chairs of any of the London Assembly’s scrutiny committees following this morning’s annual meeting.
Assembly members this morning voted on who should take up positions at the first meeting since the GLA elections, but the City Hall Labour group has accused the Greens, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats of forming a “coalition” to “block” its members from key scrutiny committee positions.
An agreement between the three parties, who have a total of 14 members on the Assembly, meant that Labour could not overrule their nominations for the chairs and vice chairs of the committees that scrutinise the work of the mayor, Metropolitan Police, TfL and other GLA bodies.
Labour group leader Len Duvall accused the Green and Lib Dem members of being “in bed with the Tories” and “betraying the very people who put them in City Hall”.
Mr Duvall said: “They say they want to reflect the political balance of the Assembly yet they’re supporting each other’s preferences and not Labour’s.
“What we essentially have here is a new coalition. It’s disappointing to see the Lib Dems and Greens backing the Tories this way – they had a choice and they’ve decided to go with those who want to weaken our public services.”
But the other parties have hit back at Labour, with the group opting not to accept the chairmanship positions of the environment committee, the health committee and the fire, resilience and emergency planning committee.
City Hall Conservative group leader Susan Hall accused the Labour members of “abdicating their responsibility to hold the mayor to account”.
Ms Hall said: “Instead of agreeing to a fair deal on the Assembly’s committees, ensuring all Londoners’ views are represented, they’ve refused to chair a single one. It’s only been a week since the election, but they’ve already let Londoners down.”
Meanwhile, City Hall Green leader Caroline Russell said: “City Hall Greens are strong believers in proportional representation and have worked hard to achieve a fair and proportional arrangement for our cross-party scrutiny work on behalf of Londoners.
“We hope Labour will come back to the table and fully participate in Assembly work to serve the interests of Londoners.”
Liberal Democrat leader Caroline Pidgeon said that “every effort was made” to reach an agreement with all parties and that she is “only sorry that Labour have chosen not to join us”.
A key point of contention for Labour appeared to be the chairmanship of the transport committee, which had previously been held by Labour’s Dr Alison Moore under the previous administration, as well as the length of time that each appointment would last.
Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon was today nominated to be chair of the transport committee, with Conservative Keith Prince as vice chair.
Conservative Assembly member Andrew Boff was selected to be the chair of the London Assembly by members, with his party colleague Keith Prince to serve as deputy chair.
Upon his selection, Mr Boff said: “The London Assembly is the voice of London. We are here to hold the mayor to account, to challenge his decisions, and to make sure that he fulfils the pledges that one makes in an election period.
“As an Assembly, we need to work together across the political divides to achieve what Londoners have asked us to prioritise.”
The London Assembly has no formal decision-making power other than to amend the mayor’s budget if a majority is agreed.
Its primary function is to scrutinise the work of the various GLA bodies as well as to investigate issues that are affecting Londoners.
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