The gloss was off at this year's Tory party conference because of fears of terrorist attacks in London, writes BRIAN COLEMAN, Greater London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden

Last Sunday morning, heading up the motorway towards a wet and wind-swept Blackpool for the annual orgy of white wine, anecdotes and canaps, I was already aware that the usual conference buzz would be missing, for some very obvious reasons.

The quite proper shortening of this year's conference will leave me free to attend tonight's memorial service at St Paul's for the New York firefighters who perished in that tragic act of terrorism.

While there is always time and always a deep necessity to grieve and to remember, there is also an urgent need to take stock, to assess, and to prepare.

In the wake of the tragedy and the newly-perceived risk to our own capital as outlined so explicitly by Commissioner Stevens, the Minister for London, Nick Raynsford, is set to head up a new committee charged with drawing up a 'disaster blueprint' for London.

There is an obvious need to join up the thinking behind what has been described as a splintered' chain of command between London's array of emergency services, but personally I am more inclined to leave it to the pros rather than the politicians.

The full line-up of the new committee is yet to be announced, however I hope that it will consist of at least a few seasoned professionals my confidence in London contingencies for biological or chemical warfare will not be inspired by the usual posse of quango-attendees banging on about reassurance' and civic leadership'.

I do have a feeling that the first Lady of the quango, Mayor's deputy Nicky Gavron, will probably steer clear of this one having arrived her customary five minutes late for the silent tribute to the dead, at the last London Assembly meeting. Neither do I see myself alone in breathing a sigh of relief that our own Mayor will not be chairing this committee.

Livingstone is no Rudi the Rock' the nickname Giuliani's firm steer on the Big Apple has recently earned him and I fail to imagine the people of London begging him to take on third or even second term as Mayor, in the current fashion of besotted New Yorkers.

You might not be able to seek a third term on home turf Mr Giuliani, but here in London our emergency door is always open.