Susan Hall is the Leader of the Conservative Group on the London Assembly.
Londoners have spoken. They have given the Mayor of London a second chance to finally get a grip on soaring crime and the ever-rising cost of living in the capital. But they’ve also returned a larger, stronger Conservative team to the London Assembly to hold Sadiq Khan’s feet to the fire.
We will work with the Mayor when he’s right, fight him when he’s wrong, and scold him whenever he puts virtue-signalling PR stunts before Londoners’ priorities. But, above all, we will hold him to his promises on behalf of Londoners.
With nine Conservative London Assembly Members, we will represent everyone across our great city and fight for a safer, more affordable London. Our work will start immediately – London faces immense challenges, and Londoners need their Mayor to deliver. That means no honeymoon period for Khan and no time for his excuses.
On the Assembly, the reduced Labour Group has already abdicated their responsibility to hold the Mayor to account in his second term. Instead of agreeing to a fair deal on the Assembly’s committees, ensuring all Londoners’ views are represented, they’ve refused to chair a single one. But have no fear – Labour’s absence has cleared the way for the Conservatives to chair six committees, ensuring the Mayor is robustly scrutinised every step of the way.
Khan has been gifted the best job in politics, by Londoners, for the second time. It’s the most powerful directly-elected position in the country, with an enormous £19.4 billion budget, and substantial policing, housing, and transport powers. He squandered his first term. He can’t waste his second.
For starters, the Mayor must fast-track City Hall’s job creation programmes. It’s scandalous that the Mayor’s biggest regeneration scheme, the £70 million Good Growth Fund, has only delivered 1.8 per cent of the 6,000 jobs he promised. If Khan is going to help our city recover and fulfil his ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ election promise, he needs to review these schemes to ensure they deliver sooner, not later.
The Mayor must also rethink his decision to reject our plan to create a £50 million recovery fund using the Greater London Authority’s idle Business Rate Reserve. This substantial fund could help businesses bounce back, create jobs, and revive London’s cultural and nightlife powerhouse. If the Mayor is serious about creating jobs he would adopt our proposal – it would be fifty times the size of the Mayor’s existing Back to Business Fund.
To get Transport for London’s finances back on track, Khan must be brave and use his second term to take on his trade union allies and modernise TfL. Londoners can’t afford to pick up Khan’s bill through council tax hikes and extortionate road charges. Nor can Outer London afford Khan’s ludicrous boundary charge idea, which would hurt family and friends, struggling businesses, and our public services. So instead, Khan must finally reform TfL’s rewards, perks, and pensions, which waste hundreds of millions of pounds every year. The savings would help wean TfL off taxpayer bailouts and pay for transport upgrades – like fixing Hammersmith Bridge and cleaning up London’s bus fleet.
The Mayor must also start treating housebuilding like a sprint, not a marathon. The government has granted City Hall a third of England’s affordable housing budget. But, Khan’s current plan will only start building 35,000 homes by 2026 with that new cash, shrinking City Hall housebuilding by two-thirds. Instead, he could use this money to build nearly 100,000 new homes – in line with London’s existing Affordable Homes Programme. Khan must rethink his ridiculously unambitious plan.
Finally, and most importantly to Londoners, the Mayor must get a grip on violent and neighbourhood crime. As lockdown eases, these crimes are set to spiral unless Khan acts now. In his second term, he must unequivocally back the police to use stop and search, put police officers before press officers, and ensure the Met has the resources needed to investigate crimes, not just record them.
We genuinely wish Khan every success as Mayor. We’re in politics to make London an even greater place to live – and the Mayor has the power to do it. We’ll do our job by holding him to account. Now, he must do his job.