The second to answer our questions is Andrew Boff, a member of the London Assembly.
Why are you standing for Mayor of London?
Mum was an East End NHS worker and Dad a West End copper. They taught me many things: that no-one is better than me and I’m better than no-one; to obey the law and be honest; and to love every part of London because it is the greatest City on Earth which is why so many people from around the world have made a home here.
Born in suburban Hillingdon, I lived in buzzing Hackney and Brick Lane for more than 20 years and I’m now in forward-looking Barking. In those 60 years I’ve never been away from London for longer than a few weeks. I love every one of its villages, every differentiated part of the the city I call home.
But I don’t want to freeze that London in aspic. I want a plan for London that respects this City’s different parts, that enhances them rather than just trying to make them the same. I reject Khan’s thinly-veiled war on the suburbs which aims to turn Outer London into Inner London. I also reject the idea that Central London is some kind of theme park, hostile to people who want to bring up families.
What sort of campaign should the Conservatives run?
Conservatives will go to unexpected places to get votes, especially places that the Labour Party has vacated. We will target those who want a route out of poor housing conditions, who want an end to social segregation (eg rich doors and poor doors), those who have low pay and those who want a more equitable London at peace with itself.
We will have a message for all of them.
For some Tories this will mean going outside their usual comfort zone. I know many local campaigners have been outside that zone for a while and, you know, it’s not uncomfortable at all.
We will provide distinctive messages on those important quality of life issues and social justice: the campaign will alert Outer London to the implications of a second term for Khan and what that could mean to their environment. We will also promote a route to home ownership for those in Central London. My team will work closely with local associations to make them feel part of this exciting campaign.
After two years of a Mayor who has promised everything and delivered nothing, ours will be the campaign that restores faith in the political process.
What would you do to reduce crime?
Street violence and domestic abuse need to be tackled at their roots. I will chair a multi-agency London Violence Reduction Commission to tackle violence as a public health emergency. This was the approach that worked so well for Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit. This strategy will include an increase in stop and search and specific work with families and victims of domestic and sexual violence.
We have to be brave: the effect that the drugs trade has on crime and violence is too big an elephant to ignore. The prohibition law on cannabis means that gangsters control its supply, resulting in turf wars that have, as has been confirmed to me by the Met Police, resulted in increasing violence. In addition young people are suffering permanent psychological damage as a result of the unregulated distribution of high-potency cannabis. I will prepare the case to regulate cannabis to win the war against criminal gangsters.
Local knowledge is vital in the war against human trafficking. I will set up multi-agency sub-regional groups to exchange intelligence in order to identify and safeguard victims.
I will protect and enhance neighbourhood policing and support investment into technology to bring the Met into the 21st Century.
What would you do about housing?
We need to pick up the pace of house building. Khan’s excuse for his poor performance is that building homes is a “marathon not a sprint”. For me the crisis is now, it is definitely a sprint.
I will appoint a commission to radically accelerate the use of attractive, energy-efficient modular housing in London. I will give confidence to developers to build by moving away from “affordable” targets and instead insist that developers share a fixed amount of their profits with local authorities for social housing programmes. I was born in a Council House and know how important they are.
I will give away plots of land to first-time self-builders who can get planning permission with the cost of the land to be recovered on subsequent sale. Overcrowding affects 350,000 young people and creates enormous obstacles to their educational and social development. Khan has abandoned targets for larger family homes. I will restore and enhance targets for larger family-sized homes.
Apart from in five established high-rise areas, no new development will exceed six storeys. Instead, I will prioritise the kind of homes promoted by “Create Streets”, homes with gardens with doors that open out onto the street.
What would you do to improve transport?
Khan has decimated the finances of TfL and it will require creative thinking to avoid bankruptcy.
- Boost sponsorship on the tube;
- Break up TfL into its operational and investment businesses to bear down on costs;
- Accelerate the introduction of driverless trains;
- Seek to ban Tube strikes and replace them with a compulsory mediation process involving an independent judge;
- Scrap free travel for partners, friends and lodgers of TfL staff;
- Expedite the move towards a 100% diesel-free bus fleet.
Khan’s battle against motorcycles will be reversed. Motorcyclists will be recognised as part of the solution to London’s congestion and air quality challenges.
Safety improvements for those who wish to cycle will continue but I believe that TfL will need to be a lot more sensitive to what residents are saying about the impact of the routes on public safety and the viability of town centres.
And finally I want to be very, very clear about Heathrow. The GLA will not assist in any way the implementation of the Government’s second-rate, unambitious and environmentally destructive plans for a third runway. I will contribute however much is needed to to fight against it and present the alternatives.