According to the ‘Evening Standard’,
“The West End needs to “declare independence” from the rest of London and set up its own governing body to rival the City of London Corporation, it was claimed today.
The scale of the West End’s £50 billion economy and the 200 million visitors it attracts each year meant that it was “too big” to be managed by local government alone, said Westminster council leader Philippa Roe.
She has proposed that she should chair a new “council of notables” including figures such as Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy and Kit Malthouse, deputy mayor for business and enterprise, as well as a representative of central government. It would aim to tackle long-standing problems such as congestion and crime, but would have no statutory powers.
Labour described the proposal as an “unelected politburo”.
Ms Roe outlined her idea this week to the West End Commission, which is looking at the future of the area.
She said the body, provisionally titled the West End Board, would be made up of “really senior people” covering business and big landowners such as the Grosvenor and Crown Estates.
It would set up task forces on issues such as the night-time economy or individual areas such as Soho or Covent Garden which could include representatives of residents’ associations.
She said that unlike the City of London, which can keep the first £10 million of the business rates it collects, the West End had no ring-fenced funding, despite supporting three times as many businesses at the Square Mile.
It also receives no extra resources for providing services such as street cleaning for the extra one million people who daily come into the West End.
Ms Roe said the area also needed a single voice to represent it abroad and in Whitehall. It is represented by an “alphabet soup” of agencies including the New West End Company, which only lobbies on behalf of stores in Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street.
Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of the Labour group at Westminster, said: “This would take us back to the day before local government when the great and the good believed it was their right to tell the plebs what to do. What we need is more involvement by residents and more democratic accountability, not governance by an unelected politburo.”
The Commission is due to makes its recommendations by the end of February. Ms Roe said she hoped to have something concrete to report by March