The controversial London Development Agency is to “disappear in its current form,” a spokesman for the Mayor has said. The chequered ten-year career of the LDA, which has suffered numerous scandals, will end by next year, with the agency dismantled and many of its staff losing their jobs.
The plan is that the housing and regeneration functions will transfer to a new GLA-controlled homes and regeneration body, joining up with the London parts of the government quango the Homes and Communities Agency. “What we want to do is take regeneration out of the LDA and put it with the housing responsibilities of the HCA and create a housing arm of the GLA,” said the spokesman.
The rest of the LDA’s functions will either be brought in-house at the GLA itself – or will be scrapped altogether. Some, perhaps many, of the LDA’s skills, employment and industrial support programmes will survive, but it is not clear how many.
“All that will just have to be found a place, if its worth doing at all, in house,” the spokesman said. “We still want some of what the LDA does. Programmes will be brought over. But we are not going to take over the LDA lock, stock, and barrel, and give everyone a desk at City Hall.” There will be “significant cost savings.”
This is big news – the biggest change to the structure of the GLA since it was created, with implications for hundreds of millions of pounds of spending and the support of many projects. The LDA never looked at all like a well-run organisation – it was at the heart of the Lee Jasper cronyism scandals, and followed that with the fiasco of a massive overspend on Olympic land acquisition. But many will worry that some useful parts of its work could be thrown out with the rest.
PS – No doubt by total coincidence, City Hall has also announced today another juicy story – the return of the mayor’s former youth adviser Ray Lewis – which seems to have captured the attention of other media outlets.