The following press release has just been issued by City Hall:
The Mayor of London has decided to continue chairing the board of Transport for London.
Boris Johnson was due to hand over the role to Tim Parker this September, but has concluded that his personal involvement is crucial to being an effective Mayor, and to ensure appropriate democratic accountability to the people of London.
Mr Parker will remain on the board and advise the Mayor on the reform and improvement of London transport.
The Mayor said: “Transport for London is responsible for a huge range of transport policies that impinge directly on the lives of Londoners and I was delighted when Tim Parker agreed to take charge of the Board on my behalf. Over the last few weeks, however, it has become increasingly apparent to both of us that the nature of the decisions that need to be take are highly political and there is no substitute for me, as the directly elected Mayor, being in charge. There are limits, therefore, to what can be delegated.”
Tim Parker said: “I look forward to advising Boris on an ongoing basis on transport. I have concluded, however, that it would not be appropriate for an unelected official to chair a body which is responsible for most of the money and a large part of the brief of an elected Mayor. I also agree with the Mayor that my position as adviser does not justify my full time and exclusive commitment to the Greater London Authority, or the title of First Deputy Mayor. We have therefore decided to adjust the management structure and abolish that position.”
The Mayor emphasised: “London has not lost the services of Tim Parker. He has completed the first stages of the GLA’s restructuring and we will continue to benefit from his advice. I’m also personally gratefully to him for his continuing support and friendship.”
At this stage, it’s not clear what has driven this move. Mr Parker’s involvement in the administration was announced with great guns, and the curtailing of his role puts Boris firmly in the driving seat of the Administration.
City Hall sources tell me that Sir Simon Milton is to take up much of Mr Parker’s work on GLA restructuring – a report on which is due this month.
Having parted ways with Nic Boles and James McGrath – and now limiting the powers of Tim Parker – it is up to Boris and his Policy Exchange team to lead the policy drive and restructuring of London Government.
UPDATE: Iain Dale offers his views here.