Cllr Kevin Davis is the fourth candidate to answer our questions. He is the Leader of the Conservative Group on Kingston Council.
Why are you standing for Mayor of London?
I am standing because I believe I can win. But London, like the London Conservatives, is at a crossroads. Growing pains, rising crime, and under-invested transport define London after two years of Sadiq Khan. The Conservatives in London need a narrative and a vision to tell Londoners why we deserve to run London.
London is a divided city. The Mayor and the Left have always sought to divide us and see division as the space in which they thrive. Khan divides us on faith, ethnicity, leave or remain, inner or outer London. The Left pour vinegar on divisions but the future story of the Conservative party is how we bring the city together once we leave the EU. The Conservative London message must be that we will heal those divisions and tackle the big issues together. I talk about my vision being of OneLondon, Londoners working together to tackle our future and ensuring that London is built on its communities and its Boroughs, not on the Mayor’s office.
What sort of campaign should the Conservatives run?
We need a campaign that follows my OneLondon vision by bringing Londoners together because we need a coalition of voters to win, but we also need to build our campaign capacity in London so we set ourselves up better for the 2022 General Election and London Borough elections.
As well as campaign capacity we need to build the profile of the candidate to Londoners.
We need to hold Khan to account, but in many respects that is the easiest part of the campaign as his failings are now legendary and his lack of delivery damages him and his brand. Our Conservative Assembly Members are doing a good job, day in and day out, to hold him to account but they need supporting by the Mayoral candidate to give greater air time to their work.
Working with our Borough Leaders in London, we need to create a narrative for London to win the air war and local campaigns to tackle local issues in the ground war. Winning needs both approaches and for me the London narrative has been the missing link in our recent campaigns.
What would you do to reduce crime?
On crime we need to give more control over local policing to the Boroughs and end the centralisation under Khan that divides communities between those who get policing and those who don’t. Knife crime is today’s most difficult issue to tackle but it could well not be in 2020.
Specifically on knife crime, I believe we need to increase stop and search and start using portable knife arches at stations on a random basis, especially where we know crime hotspots are. My Father was a Met officer and he always believed that “those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear”. With scooter crime we need to see what can be done to ensure only clear visor helmets are used and restrict pillion riders.
We also need to be careful about how we report and talk about crime. It suits Khan’s narrative to divide us by blaming Government funding for rising crime but as any London Borough leader will tell you there are many ways to maintain services with a declining budget. Khan’s problem is that he does not understand London local government and appears not to speak to those in his team who do. I have run a Borough and I can run OneLondon in partnership with the Boroughs.
What would you do about housing?
Ever increasing housing targets is not getting more homes built and Londoners are beginning to lose patience with the lack of delivery. We need to ask whether London can now really build all the homes we need either at the speed or quantity we need – we are so far behind where we should be that the targets become virtually meaningless.
Working together we need to help Boroughs support growth and we can start by deregulating with a less prescriptive London Plan. The three tests of OneLondon are to ask whether we are Devolving, Deregulating and Integrating.
We should let Boroughs, not TfL, plan for the future of TfL land and stop the ridiculous delays in getting homes built on public land. We also need to start using London money to help the areas outside of London to build homes supported by London’s infrastructure.
What would you do to improve transport?
Infrastructure is vital if we are to support the building of new homes – one cannot happen without the other. Getting a good deal for London is vital. But many of the projects we undertake are those we wanted 30 years ago and never delivered. We need a new approach to transport and London needs to be at the cutting edge of how we move around a city. We need to looking for the best, such as Hyperloop, instead of thinking that the Victorian ideas of trains, buses, bikes and cars can be the only way of keeping London moving.
There are so many cities in the world who have much simpler fares structures than we do. We need to reform the entire fare structure so that we move away from the complicated multi-zone approach to a simpler fares system, a OneLondon system. We need to do the hard work, looking at how we do this and ensure that we maintain the income with this new distribution. Additionally, I think it is time we gave Londoners a fairer share of the benefits of living in London in a way that improves the quality of life of all Londoners. In the spirit of OneLondon we need to look at what we can do with fares for Londoners.