Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ray Lewis and Boris Johnson - the implications continue

As you'll have seen in the news, Boris Johnson's City Hall administrsation has been shaken by the resignation of Ray Lewis, Deputy Mayor with responsibility for Youth just two months after his appointment. Mr Lewis resigned amidst claims relating to his previous roles as a vicar in London's East End, and as head of a youth adacemy in 2003.

However, the resignation will have wide implications for local government. Sir Simon Milton, Councillor for Lancaster Gate ward and former Leader of Westminster Council took over from Sir Sandy (now Lord) Bruce-Lockhart as Chairman of the prestigious Local Government Association just a year ago, and has been acting as an informal adviser to Boris on planning matters. With the resignation of Ray Lewis though, Sir Simon has now accepted the role of Deputy Mayor, thereby causing his resignation as LGA Chairman.

Of course, we all wish Sir Simon the very best of luck - though a year was hardly enough time for him to make his mark on the LGA. But the question now is: who will succeed him? Various well known local government faces have mooted their intention to stand; indeed just last week at the Executive meeting of the Counties Councils Network, I was made aware of two more intended candidates. And depending on who succeeds as Chairman, more vacancies may be created in other posts.

The effects of Ray Lewis' resignation and Mayor Boris' reshuffle will, I suspect, be felt for some time in local government circles. At a time when local government seems to be held in low esteem by many in the Westminster village, the need for consistency in local government's representative body has never been more acute. Let's hope we can get the new office holders in place and get on with business.

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