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City & London East Assembly Member, Unmesh Desai, talks about the steps being taken to address fraud in the Square Mile in his latest exclusive column for City Matters.

Last year, there were an estimated 3.6million incidents of fraud across England and Wales, making up a third of all types of record crime.

At a recent London Safer Neighbourhood Boards meeting that I attended, concerns were raised around the efficiency and effectiveness of the Action Fraud programme being run by the City of London Police.

A recent police inspectorate report on police effectiveness found that the law enforcement response to fraud is disjointed and ineffective, and that roles and responsibilities in tackling the issue are unclear.

I recently raised this matter with the City of London policy and resources chair, Catherine McGuinness, who said she would be looking into what can be done to improve the approach to this type of crime.

During the same meeting, I also raised the long-standing issue of tube noise that residents of the Barbican Estate have been subjected to.

Alongside local campaigner, Cllr Mary Durcan and the wider Corporation, I am keen to find solutions as soon as possible and will continue to monitor the situation.

In addition, Ms McGuinness and I discussed the consolidation and relocation of the Corporation’s three historic wholesale food markets (Smithfield Market, Billingsgate Market and New Spitalfields Market) to Barking Riverside.

There are issues around traffic congestion on the A13 yet to be resolved, and these could pose as obstacles to the smooth running of the new market hall.

Going forward, I will be working alongside both the Corporation and Barking and Dagenham Council in raising these issues with Transport for London.

As I noted in my last column, I am also keeping a watch on the City of London Girls School planning application.

This is, of course, set to go through planning processes where issues surrounding the scheme’s suitability and aesthetics will need to be addressed, alongside the concerns of local residents around the use of the school outside normal operational hours and at unsocial times.

I also had the privilege of being given an advanced preview of the new Crossrail station at Farringdon, ahead of its opening date currently set for the end of 2020.

I was very impressed with the gleaming and forward-thinking design of the station, although of course the question is, when can we all start using it?

The completion of Crossrail is of importance to all of us, particularly when it comes to improving connectivity for both residents and workers in the City of London.

Finally, I had the privilege of attending a ceremony at Guildhall where my colleague, Jennette Arnold OBE AM, was awarded the Freedom of City. It was wonderful to see her honoured for her decades of dedicated public service.

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