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GLA challenges Livingstone over 'secretive' approach

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The Greater London Authority is demanding an end to London mayor Ken Livingstone's 'secret' meetings with architects and developers. It is also to call for a change in the law to allow it greater involvement in the mayor's strategic planning decisions.

Tony Arbour, chair of the planning scrutiny committee set up to investigate the matter, said he knew of at least 14 meetings in which the mayor had 'extensive discussions' with developers prior to submission of a planning application. Arbour is demanding that assembly members have access to these meetings and are consulted during the official decision-making process. He also expressed concern about the mayor's close relationship with the City and its economic interests.

'He should take our views into account but at present he doesn't need to consult anyone, 'Arbour said. 'No one is suggesting the mayor is doing anything wrong because the act allows him to do that.

The act is flawed and ought to be modified.'

The planning scrutiny committee will call the mayor as a witness in the New Year and will 'almost certainly' call for a rewriting of the 1999 GLA Act.

A spokesperson for the mayor said the meetings were not undemocratic and were a 'constructive' way to help developments move forward.

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