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London’s Mayor at 20

This year, London’s elected mayor and assembly turn 20. But has London’s mayoralty lived up to the expectations that were set for it? Have its three mayors been able to get to grips with the city’s challenges? How have they responded to crises in the past – and what does the future hold?

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The last two decades have seen three mayors with markedly different politics, outlooks and styles at the helm of London government. And the role of the Greater London Authority has also been transformed through custom and practice, as well as statutory change.

At a time of tremendous uncertainty for the capital and the nation at large, Centre for London and LSE’s Professor Tony Travers have written a book to mark the 20th anniversary of London’s mayor and assembly, investigating the relative successes and challenges of the mayoralty to date, before asking what comes next for London.

The book combines analysis by experts with reflections from those closely involved in setting up, running and working with the Greater London Authority, alongside those who have held the position of Mayor of London themselves.

It explores how London’s mayors have changed the city during these two tumultuous decades, examines the creation and subsequent evolution of the role, and evaluates whether the reality of London’s mayoralty has managed to live up to the expectations set for it.

The book also investigates how the Mayor of London and the London Assembly have worked with central government, London’s boroughs and the nine million citizens of one of the world’s leading cities, in an attempt to get to grips with London’s challenges – from transport infrastructure and housing affordability, to crime and social polarisation.

It assesses the strengths – and the limits – of mayoral power to date. How has London been coping with the continuing constraint of falling budgets, and the challenges posed by Brexit, and what changes will be needed for the next 20 years and beyond? How will the coronavirus crisis affect the capital’s citizens and economy, its place in the nation, and its place in the world? In doing so, the book draws useful lessons for the development of London government and devolved authorities elsewhere.

The book was published on 24 November. Centre for London will host a related event on 2 December.