Less than half way through his first term as Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has brought optimism and good humour to the office. He is bringing tangible benefits to Londoners.
1. Frozen the Council Tax precept for two years running. After allowing for inflation this means a cut in real terms. Over the eight years as Mayor, Ken Livingstone increased his take of council tax by 153 per cent.
2. The Congestion Charge West London Extension is being scrapped by the end of this year.
3. The Mayor is investing £60 million to bring empty homes back into use for affordable housing, more than three times the financial commitment made by the previous Mayor.
4. Phasing out the hated bendy buses. So far 83 of them have gone. Routes 507 and 521 were the first to see bendies withdrawn, followed by route 38 in autumn 2009. Bendies on the remaining 11 routes will be replaced by 2011 as contracts come up for renewal.
5. There are 400 more police officers for buses.
6. Free travel has been introduced for veterans.
7. Facilitated the departure of Sir Ian Blair. The new Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson is doing a much better job – bringing in common sense changes such as the police going on the beat individually rather than in pairs.
8. Traffic lights resignalling. TfL is increasing the usage of the ‘intelligent’ SCOOT (Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique) system from the existing 2000 sites, to 3000 sites, by 2015/16. It is also reviewing timings at 1000 traffic signal sites annually. These measures will allow traffic lights to adjust their own timings in response to traffic conditions. "There is surely not a single Londoner who has not waited at a red light at two in the morning on a deserted street and wondered why on earth they are being delayed," says Boris. TfL’s signal timing reviews are having a noticeable impact in smoothing traffic flow. He has also allowed Ealing to bag up traffic lights.
9. The various GLA bodies now employ 13 fewer press officers than under Ken Livingstone.
10. Rough sleeping has been reduced by two thirds. The successes to date have not required additional funds but are a result of better co-ordination between the agencies responsible. The estimated number of persistent "embedded" rough sleepers across London is down from 205 under Ken Livingstone to 67 now.
11. A series of new City Academies are being sponsored. The first Mayoral Academy will be Turin Grove School in Edmonton, open from September.
12. The Mayor's Fund has been launched to tackle child poverty.
13. Flew to Beijing Olympics, economy class. Gave a wonderful motivational speech. He said: "Ping pong was invented on the dining tables of England in the 19th century and it was called wiff waff. There I think you have the essential difference between us and the rest of world. Other nations, the French, looked at a dining table and saw an opportunity to have dinner. We looked at a dining table and saw an opportunity to play wiff waff. That is why London is the sporting capital of the world. And I say to the Chinese, and I say to the world: ping pong is coming home."
14. Scrapped the post of Women's adviser, which was held by Anni Marjoram, and removed four more of "Ken's Wimmin" – the total salary bill was over £400,000. Those who have gone include Ken Livingstone's partner Emma Beale, who was paid £96,000 to be the Mayor's "Administration Manager" and Socialist Action member Jude Woodward who had been the Cultural Commissar.
15. Championed the City of London against EU regulation – notably the protectionist directive on hedge funds.
16. Supporting the phasing out of road humps across London.
17. Reducing barriers for pedestrians with 20 miles of guard rail going.
18. Launched a competition for a New Bus for London, a 21st century successor to the Routemaster. The first prototype is expected to start testing by the end of 2011.
19. 1500 new street trees have been planted. 2000 more will have been planted by the end of 2010/11.
20. 12,000 affordable homes have been completed – far more than under Ken Livingstone.
21. Has issued guidance that new publicly funded social-housing homes must have higher standards. The minimum space standards recommended are broadly ten per cent higher than the 1961 Parker Morris benchmark. An end to the Livingstone era rabbit hutches.
22. Oyster extended to national rail from this year, and also to the River Bus.
23. Modernisation of the London Fire Brigade – notably in shift patterns.
24. Closing down of GLA office in Venezuela and scaling down of other overseas offices saving: £100,000.
25. Far more transparency. All spending over £1,000 is published on the website as well as expenses claims. Wrong doing is dealt with robustly rather than hidden or denied which was the culture under the previous regime.
26. Brought back Christmas – hosting various carol concerts, etc..
27. The Queen's portrait unveiled in City Hall.
28. Restoration of drinking fountains on the capital's streets. The one in Trafalgar Square has already been brought back into use.
29. Working with the boroughs, including support for decentralising some of his power to them.
30. A successful visit to New York (paying his own fare) was held to boost tourism. Huge media coverage in the Big Apple. The ‘Only in London’ tourism campaign has boosted the capital's coffers by £50million.
31. While cycling through Camden, the Mayor saw Franny Armstrong under attack by hoodies. He set an example to Londoners by coming to her assistance.
32. Motorcycles are being allowed in bus lanes on TfL roads with the double aim of reducing congestion on the roads, and reducing the number of accidents involving motorcyclists.
33. A 24 hour Freedom Pass.
34. Scrapping The Londoner newspaper – saving £3 million a year.
35. Backing the sensitive use by the police of stop and search, which has so far taken almost 5,000 knives off the streets.
36. Boosting electric cars by ensuring that every Londoner will be no more than one mile from an electric car charge point by 2015. The Mayor is also procuring 1000 electric vehicles in the Greater London Authority Group public fleet.
37. Giving a higher priority to English tuition for refugees. The Mayor's new migration board will prioritise better ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) provision across London.
38. Classical music, neglected under the previous regime as elitist, is now getting encouragement. For instance, the No Strings Attached initiative backed by Julian Lloyd Webber where unused musical instruments are donated to be used by children. Also an annual schools music festival.
39. 100,000 more tons of the capital's annual waste will soon be turned into green energy, with £12m of guaranteed funding due to be approved by the London Waste and Recycling Board.
40. Launched the Capital Growth scheme with a target to create 2012 growing spaces by 2012 in discarded patches of London, tended by enthusiastic community gardeners.
41. He has been a listening Mayor. There have been far more visits – including to outer London boroughs.
42. Some of the consultation exercises have actually been genuine – for instance over which parks should be prioritised and the Congestion Charge Extension.
43. 11 rundown parks are being rejuvenated with grants of £400,000 each from City Hall.
44. There has been a break with his predecessor's expensive gesture of constantly engaging lawyers – usually losing.
45. A housing strategy that promotes home ownership schemes rather than stipulating that new housing has to be for social rent. The Mayor’s First Steps Housing programme is aimed at improving the intermediate housing offer for Londoners. The programme will bring forward new products including the Up2U scheme launched earlier this year. It is also looking at ways to simplify the applications process and make the system easier for first time buyers to understand.
46. Decluttering of roads will be based on the "presumption" that each piece of equipment and obstruction should be removed unless it can be justified. "If Give Way signs at minor junctions are removed then consideration may also be given to removing the associated road markings."
47. Unveiled a statue of war hero Sir Keith Park in Trafalgar Square.
48. £9.8 million is being spent on 150 schemes to facilitate walking and cycling along eight routes to the Olympics to also be maintained after the Games.
49. Launch of the Status Dogs Unit by the Metropolitan Police with the removal of 680 dangerous and/or illegal dogs from London's streets - often pitbulls.
50. Boosted the London Jazz Festival so that it reaches more boroughs.
51. Providing 30,000 new homes by freeing up under-used land owned by the Greater London Authority.
52. Helped shopping in the West End by giving Oxford Circus a makeover. Shoppers will be able to cross the busy intersection diagonally in an 'X' as well as straight ahead – meaning the junction will be able to handle double the number of pedestrians and ease overcrowding.
53. Shown himself to be a mayor for all Londoners. Contrary to the unpleasant slurs of bigotry thrown at him during the election campaign he has made a point of being inclusive listening to Londoners regardless of their background in terms of race, religion or sexuality.
54. Promoted cycling with a new Cycle Hire scheme.
55. Boosted apprenticeships including 400 new bus driver apprenticeships a year in the capital.
56. Stood up to Government bullying – notably over their interference in his proposed appointment of Veronica Wadley as Chairman of the London Arts Council.
57. With his commissioner for Sport, Kate Hoey, he has given Londoners more sporting opportunities. For instance the Mayor's PlaySport London: Make a Splash programme will see two temporary pools deployed in London boroughs. The new scheme, powered by 'pools 4 people', offers swimming even if people do not live within the vicinity of a swimming pool. The pools will be spending 12 weeks in three different locations each. One pool is up and running in Ealing, the second under construction. In January, the two pools will be deployed in two different boroughs. Through this programme, over 15,000 non-swimmers (children and adults) will learn to swim each year.
58. Judo provision in London is being increased.
59. Sailing is being encouraged – for instance through support for the AHOY Centre in Greenwich.
60. Dance is being supported. For instance the Dare2Dance project which aims to increase participation in physical activity through the medium of Street Dance using Hip Hop Dance Techniques.
61. Boxing is being supported. For instance the London Boxing Academy with sites in Hackney and Haringey is being supported.
62. The requirement for 50% of housing developments to be social housing has been lifted. Rather than inflexible percentages the Mayor is concerned with the outcome – the total number of new homes built.
63. Knife crime is down by 30%. This reflects the success of Operation Blunt II – an intitiave by the police at the mayor's instigation to search for knoves which resulted in 27,000 searches and more than 500 knives being seized.
64. Action is being taken to improve air quality. For instance through hybrid buses and by working with the boroughs to tackle air quality hotspots.
65. The opening of Imperial Wharf Station.
66. There has been funding for world-class cultural developments including Tate Modern extension and a new centre for the British Film Institute and Film Day.
67. Made significant savings on cultural events and refreshed the programme with new, inclusive events like Story of London.
68. Promoting London Fashion Week, Boris appeared on the cover of Elle magazine.
69. A scheme have been introduced where young people who lose their right to free travel through misbehaviour have to earn it back through voluntary work.
70. LEDs are being installed at 3,500 traffic lights at around 300 junctions in the Capital. LED technology can reduce electricity consumption and the associated CO2 emissions that cause climate change by a massive 60 per cent.
71. £375,000 is being provided over the next three years to open a new rape crisis centre in west London. £260,000 of funding has been allocated for the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASAC) in Croydon. Altogether there will be four rape crisis centres – there was just one under Ken Livingstone for a city of seven million people.
72. 42 public buildings in the GLA Group are being given an eco-makeover. Wembley police station has led the way with solar photovoltaic roof panels.
73. Boris Johnson appeared in EastEnders visiting the Queen Vic.
74. Foreign travel costs for the Mayor’s office were reduced from £107,000 in 2007-08 to £30,000 in 2008-09, while the rest of the GLA reduced its costs from £102,000 to £28,000. A saving of £151,000.
75. Ten delegates attended party conferences in 2008-09, at a total cost (including attendance, advertising, stands, etc.) of £9,000, compared with 19 delegates in 2007-08 at a cost of £43,000. Saving £34,000.
76. Reduction in expenditure on GLA consultants – reducing from £4.7m in 2007-08 to £2.8m in 2008-09. Saving £1.9m
77. Income from the hire of London’s Living Room at City Hall has increased from £145,000 in 2007-08 to £167,000 in 2008-09 as a result of stopping the policy of allowing preferred groups and organisations to use it for free. Saving £20,000
78. The London Development Agency has introduced "a more streamlined staffing structure" - saving £6.6m.
79. Overall crime on the Tube and DLR is down by 8%. Robbery is down by 29.2%, violent crime is down 2.6% and public disorder offences are down by 4.5%.
80. Londoners on Job Seeker’s Allowance and the new Employment and Support Allowance now benefit from half price travel on the buses. This is to help people who have recently lost their jobs bounce back quickly, by being able to travel cheaply to interviews, and access libraries and job centres.
81. Funding has been found to train and recruit 10,000 Specials Constables by 2012. The numbers are due to increase by 2,690 over the next three years.
82. Major retailers including Sainsbury’s, John Lewis, Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Borders have signed up to the ‘Open London’ scheme. The aim is to increase access to public lavatories. These businesses allow the public to use their lavatories, where available, without the need to make a purchase.
83. Cancellation of the ‘Beijing Bus’ saving £160,000.
84. For the coming year's budget £100 million of new savings within the police service will be delivered by deploying staff and resources more effectively and bearing down on overtime costs, while continuing to improve front-line policing.
85. Savings of £100,000 a year in the cost of the London Assembly.
86. There are Northern line improvements with a new control centre and computerised signalling system, scheduled to be delivered in 2012. This will enable trains to run closer together and at higher speeds, cutting journey times by 18 per cent and increasing capacity by 20 per cent.
87. To cool tube trains in summer various improvements are being carried out, including restoring ventilation fans and installing mechanical chillers and portable summer fans.
88. On the Docklands Light Railway a total of 55 new carriages have been ordered, expanding trains from two to three cars and giving a 50 per cent capacity increase by June 2010.
89. Held biggest ever St George's Day event on Trafalgar Square – 20,000 attended.
90. Put cultural supremo, Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, in charge of the Cultural Olympiad in 2012.
91. By summer the new generation of the Countdown system will increase bus customers’ access to real-time information for all of the 19,000 bus stops and 700 routes in London via mobile phones and the internet. New Countdown signs will be installed at around 2,500 key bus stops.
92. The Mayor is pushing ahead strongly with Crossrail helping to ensure the funding needed is provided.
93. Boosting the amount of London’s food waste being turned into eco-fuel to cut landfill rates and carbon emissions in an initiative with the Foodwaste to Fuel Alliance.
94. Before Boris Johnson was elected the cost of the Olympics was spiralling out of control. As mayor he has worked effectively to keep Olympics on schedule and in budget. The Mayor is pledged to ensure that Londoners pay no more than 38p per week for the Olympics.
95. Volunteering is being encouraged. The boy scouts and girl guides are being promoted. Lizzie Noel has been appointed the Mayor's adviser on Social Action and Volunteering and a website has been launched containing a one-stop-shop of volunteering opportunities for Londoners to get involved.
96. Measures to help tackle the recession including halving the standard payment period of the GLA group to its small and medium enterprise (SME) suppliers to ten working days.
97. The Mayoral commitment towards greater transparency has been demonstrated by publishing LDA grants of more than £1,000 on the LDA website. This is to safeguard against cronysim and waste. LDA grants are now going to worthwhile projects. An example is the £1,000 for the Bromley Table Tennis Development Group – one of many grants to promote sport. Some of the grant allocation, such as of the London Youth Offer fund has been delegated to the boroughs.
98. The LDA has established CompeteFor – a "dating agency" to help small and medium sized companies compete for the 4,000 Olympic contracts worth £1.7 billion.
99. There is more CCTV on London buses. Live CCTV has been brought in on a north London bus route. Twenty one double-decker buses have been fitted with technology, allowing pictures to be beamed live to the Centrecomm control centre shared by officers from Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police’s Transport Operational Command Unit. The technology allows officers to gain access to real-time images of the bus in question when a bus driver on the trial route makes a radio call to the control room. Pictures are beamed via secure and encrypted mobile networks directly from the buses to TfL’s control room. There are 60,000 CCTV cameras operating on the 8,000 London buses.
100. Crime mapping has been introduced allowing Londoners to find out about the level of crime in their neighbourhood.