London’s Mayoral Manifestos: Khan Promises Affordable Homes, a Fares Freeze and No Heathrow Expansion
The son of an immigrant bus driver, Sadiq Khan grew up in Tooting where he went to the local state school. Starting from this working-class background he went on to become a solicitor specialising in human rights and then in 2005, MP for his home constituency. Within the Labour party he has held numerous ministerial and shadow ministerial positions, including Minister of Transport and Shadow Justice Secretary.
In his manifesto, Mr Khan says the “housing crisis is the single biggest barrier to prosperity, growth and fairness facing Londoners today”. To deal with this crisis Mr Khan wants to set up Homes for Londoners - a team “at the heart of City Hall” which will build new homes on land owned by the Mayor and support building associations. These associations account for 40% of all homes built in London according to Khan’s manifesto, and have already “committed to double their construction pipelines from 90,000 to 180,000 homes”.
Of these each year 50% should meet the target of being affordable. According to his manifesto this is a property costing no more than £450,000. He will also support councils who enforce clear new rules to ensure many of the new developments are indeed “affordable”.
Mr Khan has a range of transport policies: he emphasises his knowledge in this category, harking back to the bus his father drove and his former ministerial job. To ensure the transport network “offers commuters a world-class and affordable experience” Mr Khan has said he will personally chair Transport for London.
For instance, he wants to reduce the fare prices. To do this, Mr Khan is promising a freeze on TfL fares and cycle hire costs for 4 years until salaries catch up. He also wants to introduce a “Hopper” ticket, a bus ticket that allows unlimited changes within an hour, meaning the £1.50 ticket pays for a whole journey.
Mr Khan also wants to make London a “safe capital for cycling and walking”. In fact, he wants to make London as synonymous with cycling as Amsterdam. To do this he is proposing an increase on the proportion of the TfL budget that goes towards cycling. This money can then be used to make cycling and walking safer with segregated cycle routes and to address dangerous junctions.
One big policy for Mr Khan is to pedestrianise Oxford Street. He will start with “car-free days”, eventually moving to car-free weekends and then full pedestrianisation. He is also opposing the expansion of Heathrow Airport.
Another goal is to set a target of only buying electric or hydrogen buses by 2020, and the routes that are most polluting will get priority in the switch from diesel to clean energy.
Under Mr Khan, more people would - according to his manifesto - feel safe cycling, so there would be an influx of commuters opting for bikes over polluting vehicles.
Mr Khan also wants to work with private companies to deliver better charging facilities around the city in order to encourage the use of electric cars: with more charging points, users will hopefully see these vehicles as more practical.
He also wants to “embark on a major tree-planting programme across London”, particular around schools.
If mayor, Mr Khan will use his planning powers to prevent fracking within Greater London and also to discourage building on the green belt.
When it comes to issues of policy and planning, Mr Khan wants to involve business in the decision-making process. These policy decisions include those covering transport, infrastructure, business space and skills.
Through the London Plan, he is also pushing for the provision of small businesses and start-up companies in housing and commercial developments.
Moreover to attract business to London, Mr Khan supports the expansion of Gatwick Airport and is also suggesting a review of Mr Johnson’s decision on London City Airport.
Policing and crime
To clamp down on sexual assault in the city, Mr Khan wants to have a greater police presence on transport networks during peek times. To address knife crime, he is suggesting the implementation of a “tough knife crime strategy” that will focus specifically on gangs, shops illegally selling knives, “tougher community payback for those caught with knives”, whilst maintaining traditional sentencing and jail time.
He also wants to work closely with schools to educate people about gangs and create “anti-gang strategies”.
Boris Johnson’s water cannons would be sold under a Labour mayor, with the profits going towards youth projects to help reduce gang violence.
To prevent the spread of extremism in London, he is advocating the integration of different communities in order to hinder marginalisation. Furthermore, Mr Khan is supporting the empowerment of mainstream Muslims to speak out against extremism.
Mr Khan also wants to review the Met’s armed response capability to ensure that were there a terrorism incident, it could be dealt with as well as possible.
Mr Khan is a canny politician - his nomination Corbyn probably clinched his party win - hence why the real race is between him and Zac Goldsmith. Born into a working-class British-Pakistani family, he embodies London’s tolerant values. He has faced questions about the costs of his transport plans and more lurid suggestions about his links with extremists. Despite that - and this says something about London - he is the front runner and betting favourite of the race but the real test is on 5th May.
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