Kulveer Ranger is the eighth shortlisted candidate to answer our questions. He is a management consultant and was Director for Transport Policy and later Director for Environment and Digital London at City Hall when Boris Johnson was the Mayor of London.
Why are you standing for Mayor of London?
I was born in here, grew up here, have studied, worked in, and worked for London. All these experiences have made me appreciate why London is the greatest city in the world and why being Mayor of our city is not just a job, it is a privilege. I’ve already had the opportunity to work at City Hall and I am very proud about what we achieved between 2008 and 2012. Making the case for Crossrail, launching the Cycle Hire Scheme, delivering the New Routemaster, preparing the city for the Olympics, these projects and much more were achieved. I know how to deliver for Londoners. However, it wasn’t just about looking after the transport and environment briefs, or even about setting up the digital office for the Mayor – it was about listening to Londoners, and solving their problems by working in partnership with all the boroughs and local councillors, as well as making the case to Government for funding, which is why we delivered the right public services and at the right price for taxpayers. I know what it takes to fix problems, to work within budgets, to find innovative solutions, and to provide a positive vision and strong leadership to get the job done! I have been there – I am experienced and ready to serve all Londoners as their Mayor.
What sort of campaign should the Conservatives run?
Positive and engaging. At a time when politics and our leaders seem divided and weak, and unable to listen to people’s everyday concerns, my campaign would focus on reaching out to every corner of London and listening. To every community, every size and type of business. To our innovators, entrepreneurs, our key workers and public servants. To everyone who calls this great city their home I would lend my ear. I would go to every borough, every High Street, every town hall and ask for people to tell me what they want done. Yes – I have lots of ideas too but we need to listen to Londoners first.
Our city is changing at breakneck speed. New technology, new businesses, new public services, new challenges and we need to better understand what Londoners want and then deliver. I must say I am not interested in name calling or political point scoring with the current Mayor, but where services are failing, where Londoners are being let down, when we see inactivity, waste and bureaucracy, no action or a lack of leadership – I will be a strong voice shining a light on what is wrong and being on the side of Londoners who deserve better – that’s the kind of campaign I will run!
What would you do to reduce crime?
Gangs, drugs, mopeds, burglary, knife crime and murders – our city is suffering from all forms of crime and right now there is a serious failure. Murders and knife crime are at record levels. It is unacceptable. There is no excuse. We are a civilised city and we should not be feeling less safe and secure living and working here.
Of course I will listen to, and want the Metropolitan Police to do more but I will also seek solutions from others. Community groups, specialists in prevention, experts from other towns and cities, from across the world – we do not have a monopoly on good ideas and there has been great work done which we can learn from to address youth crime, the aggressive gang culture and to crack down on the drug trade that fuels vast amounts of the violence on our streets. Crime and its causes are many and varied. We must be creative and agile in finding and developing new approaches and have a longer term vision to ensure that we are not just addressing the symptoms but tackling the root causes too.
Fundamentally I will focus on ensuring police officers are where we want to see them – on our streets – solving and deterring crime and providing us with the reassurance and confidence we deserve.
What would you do about housing?
No one can deny we have a housing crisis and that is why Homes4London will form a major plank of my policy agenda for London. I will work with all London’s boroughs, Government and the GLA on a new vision for housing including developing policies that:
- crack down on slum landlords
- limit foreign purchases of property in the areas of greatest demand
- turn empty shops and unused spaces into thousands of new homes
- spread ownership opportunities to younger people who can’t afford to save for a deposit but can afford a mortgage
- put good design at the heart of regeneration
This is a challenge that needs leadership and partnerships and I will work with all local authorities and private developers to unlock the barriers and build the new homes that Londoners need.
What would you do to improve transport?
I have worked in transport extensively and while at City Hall I was responsible for ensuring that Transport for London balanced its books while delivering a public transport system fit for one of the world’s greatest cities. This does not seem to be the case now. There is a black hole of almost £1 billion in TfL’s budget and a lack of ideas and vision for how Londoners will move around our city in the near future. I will do what we had to do in 2008 and fix TfL’s finances, again.
I would reset an investment programme that needs clarity of what challenges it is trying to address against clearly identified infrastructure investments. I will prioritise completing the Tube upgrades, taking to task failing rail franchises, ensuring our bus services meet the new needs of communities and our road networks are maintained and flow smoothly.
I will also focus on making sure transport is accessible to all – the old, the young, the disabled, the carers and parents with young children – our world class city should be a beacon for accessibility. Londoners are also already redefining the meaning of ‘personal mobility’ by embracing new taxi services and digital platforms as well as the traditional forms of public transport. This is an exciting time of transformation in transport, which will continue to redefine not just how we move around our city but when and why. With new technology such as autonomous vehicles already on the horizon and real-time data-driven city management soon to combine with the power of the Internet of Things – public transport as we know it will be superseded by the Personal Mobility Mix – and we must already be thinking, planning and designing our city for the future of mobility.