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Neil Garratt's City Hall Diary - All change at the top of the Met, and adult education

A short update this week on leadership changes in the Met Police and our upcoming investigation into the Mayor’s adult education budget. But first I would like to express my sympathy and solidarity with Sir Salman Rushdie: a thoughtful and courageous writer, attacked by a cowardly extremist on Friday.
I agree wholeheartedly with yesterday’s Sunday Times Editorial: We must never give in to intimidation on free speech. Although seriously injured, I’m pleased to read that Sir Salman is stable and improving.
Police Leadership Changes
The new Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley takes over the reins on Monday 12th September, several moves and retirements among senior officers will give him the chance to build a fresh leadership team.
I think this is a welcome move. It’s no secret that the Met has some serious problems and urgently needs to win back public confidence, I hope that a fresh leadership team will make it easier for the new Commissioner to do that without feeling bound to previous practice.
I outlined Sir Mark’s background a couple of weeks ago when his appointment was announced, along with the 4 key problems I think the Met faces:
  • Restoring public confidence in the Met, since without this little else is possible.
  • Dealing with unfit officers, I discussed previously how it’s so difficult to remove bad officers and the process takes too long.
  • Getting a grip on violent crime, especially youth violence and violence against women.
  • Tackling “volume crime” such as fraud, burglary, and vehicle theft. These can seem minor but if ignored create a sense of lawlessness.
These will be the issues I’ll focus on as I quiz Sir Mark and his new team when they come to the Police and Crime Committee in City Hall.
The leadership changes so far:
Dame Lynne Owens, former Director General of the National Crime Agency will join Sir Mark as Deputy Commissioner initially for 6 months, while he builds his new team. Dame Lynne began her policing career as a Met Police Constable back in 1989 and it’s thought will apply to take the post permanently.
Meanwhile, the current Acting Commissioner is Sir Steven House who stepped in when Dame Cressida Dick resigned. Sir Steven will leave the force when he hands over to Sir Mark in a few weeks. Two other senior officers will also leave this autumn: Acting Deputy Commissioner Helen Ball and Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave. Sir Steven, Helen, and Nick are seen as allies of the former Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick.
Adult Education
A little-known area of the Mayor’s powers, he controls more than £300 million spent on commissioning, delivering, and managing adult education across the capital. Specifically, this covers people aged 19+ starting courses equivalent to GCSE or A Level, known as levels 1, 2, and 3.
This is a new power, only devolved to the Mayor since 2019. So not only new but heavily disrupted by the pandemic. We felt it was high time this was looked into closely, so in September we will be doing just that in back-to-back sessions.
The Economy Committee, where I lead for the Conservatives, on Wednesday 7th and then the whole Assembly on Thursday 8th. The Mayor would normally be expected to attend the monthly sessions of the full Assembly, but he has refused to turn up for this one. He will send Deputy Mayor Jules Pipe instead.
Considering the Mayor constantly demands more money and more power from the government, you might raise an eyebrow that he shows so little interest in his latest new power. I know I did. Especially as he wants even more power in this area: he wants to run London’s career advisory service. Hard to justify when he shows so little interest in the education power he already has.
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Kind regards,
Neil Garratt AM
London Assembly Member for Croydon & Sutton
City Hall, Kamal Chunchie Way, London, E16 1ZE

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