Last month Mayor of London Sadiq Khan marked his first year in office. London’s highly- respected newspaper The Evening Standard assessed how he was doing on the major issues facing the capital – policing, housing, business, the environment and transport. Most progress had been made in the areas of business and the economy, and the environment but there were things to commend too in housing and transport.
The newspaper noted that crime in London had risen for the first time in several years, with knife and gun crime soaring. The Mayor was rightly prioritising neighbourhood policing – with an extra officer in every ward – but was
failing to meet his overall 32,000 target.
The paper pointed out that the Mayor was Britain’s highest profile Muslim politician who was playing a major role against extremism through his terrorism review, more armed police and a powerful voice against hate crime.
Appointing Cressida Dick as the Met’s first woman commissioner was hailed as a coup. No doubt tackling
violence against women was a priority, but the Met could lose another £700 million in Home Office funding, putting all the Mayor’s plans at risk.
Standard verdict: needs urgent action
Sadiq Khan had told Londoners the mayoral election was a “referendum on the housing crisis”. He subsequently landed a record £3.15 billion affordable housing deal from government but is accused of watering down promises of 50,000 homes a year.
First house-building statistics were disappointing but he blames his predecessor: he always warned of “a marathon not a sprint”. The draft London plan comes this autumn: the Standard expects action on homes on public land and skyscrapers and notes that one in four Londoners rent privately, “so London living rent and rogue landlords database are useful first steps.”
Standard verdict: too soon to say
Business and economy
The man who has promised to be the most pro-business Mayor ever has emerged as a powerful voice on Brexit — arguing the capital’s case with government, in Brussels and beyond.
The paper acknowledges that Khan has been pushing hard for reassurances for EU nationals already here – and for flexible immigration. “An actively pro-business mayor, he is winning over the City and business.”
The Mayor has lobbied against business rate rises, invested record sums in skills training and led trade missions to Europe and the US – some organised by the LCCI. London’s first night czar is boosting the 24-hour economy with a chief digital officer yet to come.
The Standard calls the #London-IsOpen campaign “a big success, showing that the capital is open to the world, and reassuring Londoners.”
Standard verdict: leading the way
Cleaning up toxic air is key, says the Standard and notes that the Mayor supported Client Earth’s successful
legal action for a new government clean air strategy.
The paper calls the Mayor’s doubling of cash for tackling air pollution and plans to get dirty vehicles off the roads are “among the boldest in the world.”
It believes that the T-charge and the Ultra Low Emission Zone will encourage motorists to switch from diesel. The paper notes that there will be 12 clean bus zones on the most polluted roads, “but he needs to ensure dirty buses are not switched to nearby streets as in Putney.”
Khan was, the paper notes, gradually ‘greening’ the bus fleet, and more charging points would boost electric vehicles though a pledge to plant two million street trees had fallen to 420,000.
Standard verdict: bold and ambitious
The Standard noted that the Mayor’s promise that Londoners “won’t pay a penny more for their travel” came back to bite when it emerged his price freeze pledge only covered TfL fares. But, it said, the Hopper bus fare was a hit. No luck yet though in taking control of suburban rail or getting Crossrail 2 on track.
The paper said that questions remained over union links. The Mayor has claimed that he has almost halved the number of days lost to strikes,” but promised ‘zero’”.
He had dropped two projects – new Routemaster buses and the Garden Bridge – but had pushed on with the Night Tube.
There was, the paper noted, more cash for cycling but the Mayor faced criticism for delays to the superhighways. Furthermore, “new projects could fall victim as TfL’s £700 million government grant goes.”
Standard verdict: big challenges ahead
The Mayor has been praised by Ben Rogers, director of the Centre for London, for, amongst other things, “the determination he has shown in appointing women and ethnic minority people to senior positions” in his administration. “It’s early days however and Mr Khan is right to spend time on getting the people and policy right. We will have to see what he has achieved in three years’ time and beyond.”
LCCI Chief Executive Colin Stanbridge said “Sadiq Khan’s promise to be the most pro-business Mayor ever is a huge but welcome commitment. Turning fine words into reality will not be easy but he can count on my support and that of the London Chamber in giving London businesses the environment they need and deserve.”