Deputy Mayor of London Richard Barnes AM fielded questions from residents of the Tabard Gardens estate at Hankey Hall on Tuesday night as part of the 'This is OUR Manor' programme of summer events.
Mr Barnes, who is Conservative member of the London Assembly for Ealing and Hillingdon, stressed that he is the only Deputy Mayor. Boris Johnson may have handed out the honorific title to several of his senior advisors, but only Barnes holds the statutory position of Deputy Mayor of London.
He described his role as being the Mayor's "eyes and ears in communities" and spoke of his passionate commitment to equality of opportunity.
"A London that is divided cannot achieve community cohesion and cannot be at peace with itself," he said.
The audience, which included David's mother Grace Idowu and her neighbours, challenged Mr Barnes to explain what the Greater London Authority is doing to provide support to children from the most severely troubled backgrounds to help prevent more lives being lost.
Mr Barnes spoke of how he goes out and talks to members of youth gangs in London to try to understand the knife and gun culture.
He stressed that the GLA has no power over education in the capital but did suggest that the London Development Agency is shifting its focus from providing large grants to a few big organisations to providing support to smaller organisations which might only serve a few streets but are able to make a big difference to people's lives.
The Deputy Mayor was also questioned about the impact of major regeneration projects and high-rise developments such as those at London Bridge and Elephant & Castle which don't seem to provide much benefit to established communities like the Tabard Gardens Estate.
Mr Barnes indicated that he is not an enthusiast for developments like the Shard at London Bridge but didn't seem to be very well informed about the potential impact on areas like Southwark of Boris Johnson's plans to divert section 106 payments from office developments in central London to pay for Crossrail.
The 'Meet the Deputy Mayor of London' evening at Hankey Hall was part of the ambitious 'This is OUR Manor' week of events organised by Tabard Gardens residents to share skills and knowledge. The sessions range from sport to bicycle repairs and poetry to baking.
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