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How transparent is City Hall?


The Mayor has said that he wants City Hall to lead the way in openness and transparency[1] – but what does that mean in practice and what are the obstacles he could face?

John Biggs AM[2] is leading a review, on behalf of the London Assembly’s GLA Oversight Committee, to identify areas where the Greater London Authority (GLA) Group – including Transport for London, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and the London Legacy Development Corporation - could be more transparent.

Details about the decisions the Mayor takes are published on the GLA website and reported to the Assembly but information is often withheld because of claims of commercial confidentiality[3] and sometimes there are long delays in making documents public[4].

The review will look at whether the organisational cultures within the GLA Group encourage openness, and how decisions are made about what can and cannot be published. It will also consider whether more contractual information could be published about agreements between the Mayor and private companies.

John Biggs, AM, said:

“The Mayor has power over a £14bn budget that directly effects the lives of millions of Londoners and visitors to the capital. That’s why it’s so important that the decisions he makes are open and transparent.

“Over the next few months I’ll be looking at the way decisions are made and whether more information could be made public. In particular, I want to know how the details of some deals – like the Barclays cycle hire sponsorship – are deemed to be commercially sensitive, and what can be done to break down these barriers to openness.”

The review will seek views and information from the GLA Group organisations, Government, local authorities and suppliers, culminating in a report early next year.

Notes for Editors:

1. See Boris Johnson’s 2012 election manifesto ‘Cutting waste and Council Tax’
2. John Biggs AM is also Chair of the London Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee
3. For example, Transport for London told the Budget & Performance Committee that is could not provide the value of the Barclays Cycle Hire sponsorship because of commercial confidentiality. See the Committee’s sponsorship report Whose’s brand is it anyway?
4. For example, Mayoral Decision 645 relating to spending on the ArcelorMittal Orbit was signed on 29 September 2010 but not published until 30 April 2012.
5. Read more about the investigation.
6. John Biggs AM, is available for interview. See contact details below.
7. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.


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