Greater London Authority
regional governance body
of London
Term limits
Founded3 July 2000
Preceded byGreater London Council (1965–1986)

Mayor of LondonSadiq Khan, Labour
Since 9 May 2016
Statutory Deputy MayorJoanne McCartney, Labour
Since 9 May 2016
London Assembly

ChairAndrew Boff, Conservative Party
Since May 2023
Deputy ChairOnkar Sahota, Labour
Since May 2023
Mayoral group leaderLen Duvall, Labour
Since 9 May 2016
Paid Service

Chief OfficerMary Harpley
Since 29 May 2018
Seats1 mayor and 25 assembly members (AMs)
Length of term
Four years
Mayor of London voting system
First past the post
London Assembly voting system
Additional member
Last Mayor of London election
2 May 2024
Last London Assembly election
2 May 2024
Next Mayor of London election
4 May 2028
Next London Assembly election
4 May 2028
Meeting place
City Hall, Kamal Chunchie Way, London, E16 1ZE
Website Edit this at Wikidata

The Greater London Authority (GLA), colloquially known by the metonym City Hall, is the devolved regional governance body of Greater London, England. It consists of two political branches: an executive Mayor (currently Sadiq Khan) and the 25-member London Assembly, which serves as a means of checks and balances on the Mayor. Since May 2016, both branches have been under the control of the London Labour Party. The authority was established in 2000, following a local referendum, and derives most of its powers from the Greater London Authority Act 1999 and the Greater London Authority Act 2007.

It is a strategic regional authority, with powers over transport, policing, economic development, and fire and emergency planning. Three functional bodies—Transport for London, the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime, and the London Fire Commissioner—are responsible for delivery of services in these areas. The planning policies of the Mayor of London are detailed in a statutory London Plan which is regularly updated and published.

The Greater London Authority is mostly funded by direct government grant and it is also a precepting authority, with some money collected with local Council Tax. The GLA is unique in the British devolved and local government system, in terms of structure (it uses a presidential system-esque model), elections and selection of powers. The authority was established to replace a range of joint boards and quangos and provided an elected upper tier of local government in Greater London for the first time since the abolition of the Greater London Council in 1986.


The GLA is responsible for the strategic administration of the 1,579 km2 (610 sq mi) of Greater London. It shares local government powers with the councils of 32 London boroughs and the City of London Corporation. It was created to improve the co-ordination between the local authorities in Greater London, while the Mayor of London's role is to provide a single representative for the capital. The Mayor proposes policy and the GLA's budget, and makes appointments to the capital's strategic executive such as Transport for London. The primary purpose of the London Assembly is to hold the Mayor of London to account by scrutiny of his or her actions and decisions. The assembly must also accept or amend the mayor's budget on an annual basis.[1] The GLA is based at City Hall in the London Borough of Newham, situated next to the redeveloped Royal Victoria Dock in Canning Town. The GLA moved to this building from the previous City Hall, in Southwark, in January 2022.

The GLA is different from the corporation of the City of London with its largely ceremonial lord mayors, which controls only the square mile of the city, London's chief financial centre.


Main articles: History of local government in London and Greater London Council

In 1986, the Greater London Council was abolished by the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher. Many people have surmised that the decision to abolish the GLC was made because of the existence of a high-spending left-wing Labour administration under Ken Livingstone, although pressure for the abolition of the GLC had arisen before Livingstone took over, and was largely driven by the belief among the outer London borough councils that they could perform the functions of the GLC just as well.

On abolition, the strategic functions of the GLC were transferred to bodies controlled by central government or joint boards nominated by the London borough councils. Some of the service delivery functions were transferred down to the councils themselves. For the next 14 years there was no single elected body for the whole of London. The Labour Party never supported the abolition of the GLC and made it a policy to re-establish some form of citywide elected authority.


The Labour Party advocated a government structure comprising a single, directly elected mayor (a policy first suggested by Tony Banks in 1990), together with an elected deliberative assembly to scrutinise him. This model was based on the mayor–council government of many American and Canadian cities rather than the parliamentary-style GLC. Indeed, it was partly aimed at making sure the new body resembled the erstwhile GLC as little as possible. After Labour won the 1997 general election, the policy was outlined in a white paper entitled A Mayor and Assembly for London (March 1998).

Simultaneously with the elections to the London Borough councils, a referendum was held on the establishment of the GLA in May 1998, which was approved with 72% of the vote. The Greater London Authority Act 1999 passed through Parliament, receiving royal assent in October 1999. Most polling showed that Livingstone, the last leader of the GLC, would easily win the mayoral election. However, in a controversial election campaign, the then prime minister, Tony Blair, attempted to block the nomination of Livingstone, a factional rival, and imposed his own candidate. In reaction, Livingstone stood as an independent candidate, resulting in his expulsion from the Labour Party. In March 2000, he was elected as Mayor of London, pushing Labour's candidate into third place. Following an interim period in which the mayor and assembly had been elected but had no powers, the GLA was formally established on 3 July 2000.


City Hall in Southwark served as the headquarters of the Greater London Authority between July 2002 and December 2021.

For the first two years of its existence, the Greater London Authority was based at Romney House, 47 Marsham Street in Westminster.[2] Meetings of the London Assembly took place at Emmanuel Centre, also on Marsham Street.[3]

Between July 2002 and December 2021, the Greater London Authority was based at a building known as City Hall in Southwark, on the banks of the River Thames, close to Tower Bridge. City Hall was designed by Norman Foster and constructed at a cost of £43 million[4] on a site formerly occupied by wharves serving the Pool of London. This building did not belong to the GLA but was leased under a 25-year rental agreement from the Kuwait Investment Authority.[5]

In November 2020, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced plans to vacate City Hall at the end of 2021 and relocate to The Crystal in the Canning Town area of East London. The Crystal building is owned by the Greater London Authority and is currently under-occupied. City Hall was not owned by the authority itself and the proposed move would save the Greater London Authority £12.6 million a year in rental costs.[6][7][8] The decision was confirmed on 3 November 2020. Newham Borough Council gave permission for a change of use for the building in December 2020.[9][10] The authority vacated City Hall on 2 December 2021 and the move is due to completed in the first week of January 2022.[8][11] The Crystal was renamed "City Hall" in December 2021.[12][13]

In addition to City Hall, staff of the Greater London Authority are also based at Palestra House on Blackfriars Road and at the London Fire Brigade headquarters on Union Street, both in Southwark.[14]

The predecessors of the Greater London Authority, the Greater London Council and the London County Council, had their headquarters at County Hall, upstream on the South Bank. Although County Hall's old council chamber is still intact, the building is unavailable for use by the GLA because of its conversion into, among other things, a luxury hotel, amusement arcade and aquarium.[15]

Powers and functions

Functional bodies

Areas which the GLA has responsibility for include transport, policing, fire and rescue, development and strategic planning. The GLA does not directly provide any services itself. Instead, its work is carried out by functional bodies which, together with the GLA itself, form the GLA Group [16] and work under the policy direction of the mayor and assembly. These functional bodies (defined in section 424 (1) of the Greater London Authority Act 1999) are:

In November 2005, the government published a consultation document reviewing the powers of the GLA, making proposals for additional powers, including waste management, planning, housing, and learning and skills.[18][19] The result of the consultation and final proposals were published by the Department for Communities and Local Government on 13 July 2006.[20]

A range of back office services for the GLA and its functional bodies are provided collectively by the GLA Group using the common provision powers of section 401A of the 1999 Act.[21] The most senior member of staff within the GLA Group is the GLA Head of Paid Service.[22]


The GLA is responsible for co-ordinating land use planning in Greater London. The mayor produces a strategic plan, the "London Plan". The individual London Borough councils are legally bound to comply with the plan. The mayor has the power to over-ride planning decisions made by the London Boroughs if they are believed to be against the interests of London as a whole.[citation needed]

Energy policy

As of 2006, London generates 42 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year, 7% of the UK's total. 44% of this comes from housing, 28% from commercial premises, 21% from transport, and 7% from industry.[23]

The Mayor's energy strategy[24] planned to cut carbon emission levels by 20% by 2010 and 60% by 2050 (although achieving the first of these targets is unlikely).[needs update] Measures taken to achieve this have included the creation of the London Climate Change Agency, the London Energy Partnership[25] and the founding of the international Large Cities Climate Leadership Group.

The London Sustainable Development Commission[26] has calculated that for housing to meet the 60% target, all new developments would have to be constructed to be carbon-neutral with immediate effect (using zero energy building techniques), in addition to cutting energy used in existing housing by 40%.

Service Greater London Authority London borough councils
Education checkY
Housing checkY checkY
Planning applications checkY
Strategic planning checkY checkY
Transport planning checkY checkY
Passenger transport checkY
Highways checkY checkY
Police checkY
Fire checkY
Social services checkY
Libraries checkY
Leisure and recreation checkY
Waste collection checkY
Waste disposal checkY
Environmental health checkY
Revenue collection checkY

Political control

After the 2024 elections, Labour has the largest representation on the GLA with the mayor as well as eleven assembly members, followed by eight from the Conservatives, three Greens, two from the Liberal Democrats, and one from Reform UK.[27]


See also


  1. ^ Zimmerman, Joseph (28 August 2003). "The Greater London Authority: Devolution or Administrative Decentralization?". Washington, DC: American Political Science Association: 6. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ "Greater London Authority – Press Release". 15 March 2001. Archived from the original on 21 August 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  3. ^ "London Assembly meeting – 24 May 2000". Archived from the original on 17 August 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  4. ^ ""SPICe Briefing" Retrieved 2010-03-01". Archived from the original on 14 April 2017. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  5. ^ "Inside City Hall" Retrieved 2010-03-01 Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Peracha, Qasim (24 June 2020). "Sadiq Khan announces plan to leave City Hall and move to East London". getwestlondon.
  7. ^ "London's iconic City Hall set to close in a shock plan to save £11m a year". ITV News. 24 June 2020.
  8. ^ a b Bynon, Theodora (2016). "London's Name". Transactions of the Philological Society. 114 (3): 281–97. doi:10.1111/1467-968X.12064.
  9. ^ "City Hall to relocate from central London to the East End". BBC. 3 November 2020.
  10. ^ King, Jonathan (11 December 2020). "City Hall move to The Crystal given thumbs-up". Newham Recorder.
  11. ^ @LondonAssembly (2 December 2021). ".@LondonAssembly Members gather for a final goodbye City Hall photo, after the last meeting. We'll see you at th…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  12. ^ Coispeau, Olivier (2016). Finance Masters: A Brief History of International Financial Centers in the Last Millennium. World Scientific. ISBN 978-981-310-884-4.
  13. ^ "Khan approves GLA move from Foster's City Hall to WilkinsonEyre's Crystal". 4 November 2020.
  14. ^ "Greater London Authority could move City Hall to Royal Docks".
  15. ^ Buchanan, Rhoda (8 April 2009). "A fishy day out at the new London Aquarium". The Times. London. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  16. ^ London Assembly, GLA Oversight Committee, Transparency of the GLA Group, published 25 June 2013, accessed 30 May 2023
  17. ^ "Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (Section 1)". UK Legislation. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  18. ^ Toynbee, Polly (8 December 2005). "We can't allow these tin-pot dictators to ruin our capital". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  19. ^ Greater London Authority may get a lot more power: ODPM opens consultation Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Communities and Local Government – The Greater London Authority: The Government's Final Proposals for Additional Powers and Responsibilities for the Mayor and Assembly Archived 23 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Inserted by section 52 of the Greater London Authority Act 2007
  22. ^ Greater London Authority, GLA Head of Paid Service Staffing Protocol and Scheme of Delegation, published May 2021, accessed 30 May 2023
  23. ^ "London – planning for climate change Archived 21 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine", London Climate Change Agency. URL accessed 20 August 2006.
  24. ^ "Mayor's Energy Strategy Archived 25 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine", Mayor of London. URL accessed 20 August 2006.
  25. ^ "London planning for climate change". London Climate Change Agency Ltd. July 2006. Archived from the original on 26 September 2006. Retrieved 15 August 2017. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  26. ^ London Sustainable Development Commission. URL accessed 20 August 2006. Archived 25 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ "Results 2024". London Elects. Retrieved 7 May 2024.