Khan’s reign: how has the Lon­don mayor fared so far?

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - by Amita Joshi amita.joshi@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

SADIQ Khan marked his first six months in City Hall by celebrating the suc­cesses, but ad­mit­ted there is still much to do be­fore his changes can make an im­pact on Lon­don.

The Labour mayor, who won a land­slide vic­tory in the May elec­tions, pledged to make fun­da­men­tal changes to the city’s make up, in­clud­ing a se­ri­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the hous­ing cri­sis and a travel fares freeze.

As he set­tled into the job and faced his first few weeks in the post, Mr Khan ad­mit­ted “things can­not be fixed overnight”, but the for­mer MP said he wanted to be a mayor for all Lon­don­ers who will tackle the chal­lenges he faces.

Here, we take a look back at his elec­tion pledges and what he has achieved – or not – so far as the head of City Hall.

Hous­ing

It was a may­oral elec­tions “on hous­ing” ac­cord­ing to op­po­si­tion Zac Gold­smith back in May – and there is no doubt the city’s cri­sis is still Lon­don­ers’ big­gest con­cern.

Khan had pledged be­fore the elec­tion to build 800,000 new homes in the first year, with half of those to be af­ford­able homes.

How­ever, with six months gone this is far from be­ing achiev­able, and the Mayor ad­mit­ted he can­not set a tar­get for af­ford­able hous­ing af­ter as­sess­ing the sit­u­a­tion upon be­ing ap­pointed.

A few changes have been made since an ini­tial dig at for­mer mayor Boris John­son “for leav­ing the cup­boards bare”, in­clud­ing the launch of the coun­try’s first re­view into for­eign prop­erty own­ers and where their wealth comes from.

The af­ford­able hous­ing mar­ket gained a vic­tory when more land was se­cured from Trans­port for Lon­don which can be built on, but Lon­don­ers have al­ready been told they can’t ex­pect changes “to hap­pen overnight”, al­though there are plans to open a not-for-profit let­ting agency, prevent­ing peo­ple from hav­ing to move reg­u­larly when land­lords hitch up prices, as well as a data­base nam­ing and sham­ing bad land­lords.

Mr Khan said: “I want to be hon­est with Lon­don­ers from the start that it will take time to turn things around – we’re start­ing from a po­si­tion where last year the pre­vi­ous mayor built the low­est num­ber of af­ford­able homes since records be­gan.” Trans­port

One of the mayor’s key pledges was the prom­ise to freeze rail fares for Lon­don­ers, some­thing which he be­lieves he has achieved in de­liv­er­ing.

How­ever, when the an­nounce­ment came the Mayor came un­der scru­tiny af­ter the de­ci­sion was only passed for Trans­port for Lon­don (TfL) fares, ex­clud­ing thou­sands who com­mute into the city.

Lon­don­ers re­acted an­grily to the news and al­though TfL said it was con­fi­dent it could de­liver the fares freeze, it was not good enough for many trav­el­ling from fur­ther afield.

Al­though Khan has urged the govern­ment to give City Hall con­trol over sub­ur­ban rail lines, this has yet to be ad­dressed or ac­cepted.

There have been some wins for the Mayor how­ever, in­clud­ing the long awaited launch of the Night Tube, rolled out on the Cen­tral, Ju­bilee and Vic­to­ria lines.

The hop­per fare also came into force very quickly, al­low­ing some of Lon­don’s low­est earn­ers to take two buses for the price of one within the hour.

En­vi­ron­ment

There is no doubt Lon­don un­der Sadiq Khan has am­bi­tious plans to tackle the dan­ger­ously high lev­els of air pol­lu­tion, but whether they can be de­liv­ered is yet to be seen.

Key de­tails of the plan to create the Lon­don Ul­tra Low Emis­sion Zone in­clude charg­ing higher pol­lut­ing ve­hi­cles in cen­tral Lon­don and bring­ing for­ward the plans from 2020 to 2019.

Re­cently, the Mayor men­tioned the is­sue of pol­lu­tion in the Lon­don Un­der­ground net­work dur­ing the Peo­ple’s Ques­tion Time, say­ing there are spe­cial­ists look­ing into how heat from un­der­ground can be re-used as en­ergy.

How­ever, these plans are yet to be put in place, and City Hall will be quizzing the mayor heav­ily on the new poli­cies be­fore they come into place.

Econ­omy

Cam­paign­ing hard to re­main in the Euro­pean Union and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing de­feat, the Mayor has not swayed from mak­ing it clear that Lon­don is open for ev­ery­one.

Launch­ing his cam­paign #lon­don­isopen, Khan vis­ited Canada and the US to en­sure coun­tries know the city is open for busi­ness.

In speeches to the City’s lead­ing busi­ness­men and in in­ter­views, Khan has made it clear he has been fight­ing for a spot in Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions, say­ing that al­though the city “shouldn’t be independent” from the rest of the coun­try, it does need to en­sure stu­dents, busi­nesses and lead­ing peo­ple in all fields that Lon­don can be their home.

How ef­fec­tive this is re­mains to be seen, but busi­nesses have agreed with the Mayor that Brexit has left cor­po­ra­tions un­cer­tain about their fu­ture here and this needs to be ad­dressed.

Crime and polic­ing

In the wake of ter­ror threats in­creas­ing in the city, the Metropoli­tan Po­lice force has in­tro­duced a num­ber of changes which Khan has backed, in­clud­ing armed po­lice pa­trolling the Un­der­ground and 600 more po­lice of­fi­cers join­ing the force.

Other changes have in­cluded the Mayor putting a firm stop to neigh­bour­hood po­lice of­fi­cers los­ing their jobs, some­thing which was dis­cussed dur­ing Boris John­son’s may­oral reign.

Khan has in­sisted ev­ery ward will be given a sec­ond PC to “bring back real, neigh­bour­hood polic­ing which the com­mu­nity needs”.

CHANGES: How has Sadiq Khan fared as Lon­don Mayor in his first six months?

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