In Conversation: Sir Edward Lister

Sir Edward Lister

There are a wealth of leading figures in the property, investment, finance and charity sectors and we want to speak to them about their work. If you would like to feature in this series, or to suggest someone who might, please get in touch through our contact us page or let us know on twitter.

Why not take a lucky dip into our In Conversation archives and discover:
Daniel Moylan, Deputy Chairman of Transport for London
Liz Peace, Chief Executive at British Property Federation
Jo Causon, Chief Executive of the Institute of Customer Service

Today we speak with Sir Edward Lister, Mayor’s Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor for Planning.

In one sentence, could you sum up your role?
As Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor, my role ranges from leading on GLA budgets and administration to advising the Mayor on Strategic Planning  Applications, and includes oversight of both the London Plan and forthcoming Community Infrastructure Levy.

And in one sentence, what your organisation does?
The GLA is a strategic authority with a London-wide role to design a better future for the capital.

Could you tell us a bit about your background?
I joined City Hall from Wandsworth Council where I was the longest serving council leader in the country.  During my period in office, Wandsworth became the country’s most successful value for money local authority with the lowest council tax charge and achieved top satisfaction ratings from its residents.

What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day contains a packed schedule of meetings with the Mayor and his team, Members of the London Assembly and senior officials from across the GLA group.  I try to get out and about as much as possible to visit boroughs and sites, as well as to meet with Government Ministers to make the case for London.  I also have a programme of speaking engagements to engage with, and get the Mayor’s message across to property developers and other business leaders.

What are the main day-to-day challenges you face in your role?
My highest priority, especially as Londoners are facing a tough economic climate, is to ensure that the Mayor’s priorities for London are delivered in a cost-effective manner.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
It is undoubtedly to have the privilege of working with a visionary Mayor who cares passionately about raising the quality of life in the capital and is committed to delivering public realm and infrastructure improvements.

Will hosting the 2012 Olympics help growth across the capital?
Preparations for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games has already transformed the East End of London and their legacy will undoubtedly drive growth and employment. London as a whole has already benefited from the many infrastructure improvements which have been delivered since London won its bid to host the games.

You were knighted earlier this year – what was that like?
I was deeply honoured and humbled by the realisation of what a privilege it is to be recognised for doing something that has given me so much pleasure.

What would you say is your most memorable moment or proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement is to have delivered a high quality service to Wandsworth residents at a low cost and the consistently lowest council tax.  Having joined the Mayor’s team relatively recently, I look forward to ensuring that the capital as a whole benefits from this approach.

What is your favourite London landmark?
In my opinion, no other capital city of London’s size can compete with the capital’s mix of iconic historic and modern landmarks. Many landmarks could be singled out for praise and it is reassuring that the modern landmarks, such as the cable car,  which are coming on stream maintain this high standard.

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