Monday, February 15, 2010

Confirmation Hearings

This afternoon saw the confirmation hearings for two of the Mayor's most recent appointees. Assembly Members posed questions to the candidates and made recommendations about their suitability for their respective roles.

James Cleverly

First in the Big Chair was AM for Bexley & Bromley, James Cleverly. Elected to the Assembly by over 100,000 of his constituents, it would be a brave Member who questioned their judgement.

James is due to take up his new role as Chairman of the London Waste and Recycling Board, and he has spent the last couple of weeks reading up on an area of policy in which he had no previous experience. With both Bexley and Bromley in the top five London Boroughs for recycling, he could do worse than learn from the examples on his own doorstep.

It was an impressive performance. James urged a new focus on reducing waste at source and on viewing the waste that was produced as valuable material. To achieve this work needed to be done to further stimulate the market for recycled metals, plastics and paper, so that these could be effectively reused, not shipped abroad or surreptitiously returned to landfill.

For non recyclable waste, incineration would remain the dominant method of disposal, with major plants at Edmonton, Lewisham and Belvedere able to process large volumes. At these locations energy was already being generated as a by product, but James also saw the possibility of distributing heat in local networks.

In the longer term new technologies such as anaerobic digestion, pyrolysis and gasification would come on stream but he wanted to avoid committing to any one of these in a field where technology was advancing swiftly.

James has strong views "I'm a Conservative, so I want to cut waste!" and he defended his lack of expertise by pointing out that there hasn't been a defence minister with military experience for many years - although I'm not sure he was presenting Bob Ainsworth as a shining example...

James has got a background in the army, and it shows in his approach to achieving objectives. As the Mayor's youth ambassador he delivered concrete results and he promises the same here. He is good at motivating people and his consensual approach will help him in a field which is crowded with competing stakeholders. The committee was pleased to approve his appointment.

Reshard Auladin

Next up was the newly appointed MPA Vice Chairman, Reshard Auladin. Reshard has been a magistrate in Enfield for over 20 years and was first appointed to the Metropolitan Police Authority on its formation back in 2000. His MPA role survived the change of Mayors in 2008.

Reshard saw the main challenges facing the organisation as improving the management of resources and helping the MPA board to become more coherent and consensual. He currently leads on professional standards and performance management and he sees his new role as remaining focused on those areas.

Professional standards includes the vital task of weeding out corrupt officers and Reshard felt that recent headlines had demonstrated that there was still plenty to be done, although Londoners could be assured that the MPA takes corruption seriously.

He was concerned about the influence exerted by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Association of Police Authorities (APA), feeling that the decisions made by these national bodies did not always consider the unique factors at play in the capital.

Suggestions that the MPA could be abolished worried him, he said, because abolition could herald a greater degree of political interference, and would threaten the specialist contribution provided by independent members.

Reshard is a calm and impressive performer who has survived changes in administrations and can build consensus across the political spectrum. The committee was pleased to recommend his appointment.

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