When Greater London disappered

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,575
Las Vegas, NV USA
Like Greater New York, Greater London was the administrative entity that everyone recognized as "London". It was incorporated as London County with definite boundaries and did not include the outer suburbs. In 1986 Greater London disappeared. There remained only some 37 boroughs and two "cities" (Westminster and the City of London, the latter consisting of one crowded square mile). People talked about London as if were still there but legally it did not exist. The area was still served by the Metropolitan Police and a transit agency but most other services devolved to the boroughs and cities. In 2000 Greater London came back as the Greater London Authority.

How did people react when London disappeared? Were they happy when it came back?
 
Last edited:
Sep 2012
1,638
London, centre of my world
Like Greater New York, Greater London was the administrative entity that everyone recognized as "London". It was incorporated as London County with definite boundaries and did not include the outer suburbs. In 1986 Greater London disappeared. There remained only some 37 boroughs and two "cities" (Westminster and the City of London, the latter consisting of one crowded square mile). People talked about London as if were still there but legally it did not exist. The area was still served by the Metropolitan Police and a transit agency but most other services devolved to the boroughs and cities. In 2000 Greater London came back as the Greater London Authority.

How did people react when London disappeared? Were they happy when it came back?

The GLC (Greater London Council), a democratically elected body, was responsible for controlling large municipal projects such as transport, roads, housing and education across the region.
From 1981 until 1986, it was run by the left-wing Labour leader Ken Livingstone, better known as 'Red Ken' (in the picture he's the one on the left, un-ironically).

1550698902646.png

His confrontational politics and actions only served to annoy Margaret Thatcher, who viewed him as a 'left-wing extremist'.

For example, at the GLC headquarters, County Hall - directly opposite the Houses of Parliament, there were banners placed on the roof proclaiming how many Londoners were unemployed every month as a result of the policies of the Government (326,238 in December 1981, as seen in the picture).
He invited members of Sinn Fein to London, publicly supported Irish republicanism, declared London a nuclear-free zone and declined an invitation to Charles and Diana's wedding.
He also supported minority groups, which back then did not have the acceptance seen today. GLC money was spent on schemes promoting these groups, and this was seen as a waste of money.

In the election of 1983, the Conservative manifesto promised to abolish the GLC, calling it 'a wasteful and unnecessary tier of government'. In 1986 it was disbanded despite protests from all sides of the political divide and delays called for by the House of Lords. Some saw it as a political act of vengeance by Margaret Thatcher.

So …. as for how people reacted, it was seen, depending on the politics of the viewer as either the destruction of a democratically elected public body that supported the oppressed, or good riddance to a bunch of wasteful Marxists.

The running of Greater London was then devolved to the different borough councils until 2000; for 14 years there was no central policy or control for the running of the city.
The old GLC never came back; after a referendum in 1997, the Labour Government of Tony Blair created the GLA (Greater London Authority) with an elected Mayor and Assembly.
Nearly 19 years on, there is no real disillusionment with this arrangement; any criticisms tend to be politically motivated and aimed at the incumbent mayor, so I suppose we must be happy.
Also, this system of civic governance has since been adopted across the UK in other major cities, so the government must be happy too.

And, ironically, the first elected Mayor of London (standing as an Independent candidate) was ….. Ken Livingstone.
 
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stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,575
Las Vegas, NV USA
Because they're being played by Charles Bronson and Brigitte Neilson, of course.
So no one could be found in the UK to play these two, or was this a deliberate choice? Anyway Prince Charles stole the show IMO.:lol:
 

notgivenaway

Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
5,781
UK
most didn't care.

The use of London as the name for the entire expanse is very recent. London in its current size is comparatively recent anyhow. Most housing in the outskirts is 1930s back to Edwardian, and in Victorian times places like Croydon, Enfield, Dagenham, Romford, Bromley, Kingston upon Thames, etc. which all are on the boders of Greater London would have been small villages or towns.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,575
Las Vegas, NV USA
most didn't care.
.

"The GLC was responsible for running strategic services such as the fire service, emergency planning, waste disposal and flood prevention. The GLC shared responsibility with the London boroughs for providing roads, housing, city planning and leisure services. It had a very limited role in direct service provision with most functions the responsibility of the London boroughs. The GLC did not take control of public transport from the London Transport Board until 1970 and lost control to London Regional Transport in 1984. Under the 1963 Act, the GLC was required to produce a Greater London Development Plan. The plan included in its wide-ranging remit: population changes, employment, housing, pollution, transport, roads, the central area, growth and development areas, urban open spaces and the urban landscape, public services and utilities and planning standards. The plan included the comprehensive redevelopment of Covent Garden and creating a central London motorway loop. The plan was subject to an Inquiry which lasted from July 1970 until May 1972.[3] The campaign to save Covent Garden along with various opposition on other matters largely derailed the plan." Wikipedia, GLC

Would the residents of the boroughs not notice the increased costs or decrease in services or both? In situations like this the larger and richer boroughs and cities would have paid more for the GLC level services distributed across all of London. Public transport and police services were maintained by independent agencies but I don't know who oversaw them.
 
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notgivenaway

Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
5,781
UK
Most who opposed it did for sentimental reasons. I don't know any Londoners who want a return to the County of London, or Middlesex's re-introduction. Or the Essex boundary being at the River Lea and not near the M25 motorway as it is now.
 
Sep 2012
1,638
London, centre of my world
"The GLC was responsible for running strategic services such as the fire service, emergency planning, waste disposal and flood prevention. The GLC shared responsibility with the London boroughs for providing roads, housing, city planning and leisure services. It had a very limited role in direct service provision with most functions the responsibility of the London boroughs. The GLC did not take control of public transport from the London Transport Board until 1970 and lost control to London Regional Transport in 1984. Under the 1963 Act, the GLC was required to produce a Greater London Development Plan. The plan included in its wide-ranging remit: population changes, employment, housing, pollution, transport, roads, the central area, growth and development areas, urban open spaces and the urban landscape, public services and utilities and planning standards. The plan included the comprehensive redevelopment of Covent Garden and creating a central London motorway loop. The plan was subject to an Inquiry which lasted from July 1970 until May 1972.[3] The campaign to save Covent Garden along with various opposition on other matters largely derailed the plan." Wikipedia, GLC

Would the residents of the boroughs not notice the increased costs or decrease in services or both? In situations like this the larger and richer boroughs and cities would have paid more for the GLC level services distributed across all of London. Public transport and police services were maintained by independent agencies but I don't know who oversaw them.
The public services in general were decreasing throughout the 1980's due to government policy and after 1986 increased costs and responsibility borne by the borough councils forced many to begin cutbacks. Several Labour councils refused to make cutbacks, though, and even encouraged more spending.
Within a few years of the GLC's demise, the Poll Tax was introduced by the Thatcher government, and boroughs were to receive a government grant to assist; the values were based on their levels of thrift, but I believe it was dependent on their political make-up.
For example, Lambeth council (Labour) had to impose one of the highest poll tax figures (a rate per person, not based on a property rating) due to the small government grant. Neighbouring Wandsworth council (Conservative) had a zero poll tax, due to the government grant being high enough to cancel it out. Their services were no better or worse, but Wandsworth was a 'flagship Tory borough'.
I'm not sure if the police, or the other emergency services, were controlled any differently from before 1986, but funding responsibilities were eventually passed to the local councils to add to government funding.
Public transport was still run as a central organisation; LRT was, as per the Wiki quote, run independently and it wasn't until the PPP initiatives/plans of the early 2000's that changed it into a more business-like organisation that eventually became Transport for London (TfL).
 
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