Sadiq Khan has launched his bid for a second term as London Mayor with a vow to continue tackling London’s most pressing housing problems and to make the mayoral election campaign “a referendum” on the introduction of rent controls in the capital.
He told an audience of Labour London Assembly candidates and other supporters gathered in the Rose Lipman Building in Hackney that “Labour is leading nothing short of a revolution in council and genuinely affordable housing” in that borough and that he is “determined to see that repeated in every corner of London”.
Praising the regenerated King’s Crescent estate, Khan also cited Hackney’s private landlord licensing scheme and its success in negotiating improved terms for housing association tenants in the borough. “This borough shows what it is possible to accomplish when the vision and political will is there,” Khan said.
Khan emphasised his use of government grant funding to help councils in London build new homes, saying “the only way you will fix the housing crisis is by building thousands more council homes every year” and argued that the high cost of private renting means “the time is right to introduce rent controls in London” and “improve standards and conditions for renters”.
He described his lack of rent control powers as “the one area” of housing policy in which his administration has been “frustrated from making the progress I desperately want to see”. The “simple reason” for this, he said, is that “the Tory government has prevented us from doing so.” Describing the case for being given those powers by national government as “irrefutable”, he said a “dysfunctional” private rental market is a major barrier to reducing inequality and community stability in the capital.
A proposed model for rent controls in London was drawn up for Khan by his then housing deputy James Murray, who has since become the MP for Ealing North, and Westminster North MP Karen Buck, who is chairing Khan’s election campaign and introduced him at this morning’s launch. The plans seek to mitigate potential adverse effects on the market as a whole and are seen as being complemented by an enlarged social and affordable house-building programme. Khan said the failure of Tory ministers to give him rent control powers has prompted him to “make the mayoral election on 7 May a referendum on this issue”.
He also described the outcome of the 7 May election as critical to the future direction of policy on policing, housing, transport, the economy and climate change, “but also the very values that define us as Londoners, with our openness, tolerance and internationalism well and truly on the ballot paper” and said “all the evidence shows” that the contest for City Hall is “a two horse race” between himself and the Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey
Londoners are presented with “a very clear choice between my plan to tackle crime and its causes by investing in the police and youth services,” or the Conservative whom Khan said “implemented huge cuts to both when he was a Downing Street adviser”. He also drew a contrast between what he called his “world-leading policies to tackle toxic air pollution and the climate emergency” and Bailey’s opposition to them, which he said including a desire “to rip up the existing cycle lanes”.
Khan also talked up his record on public transport fares, highlighting his four-year freeze on fares for public transport services run by Transport for London and the one hour “hopper” fare he has introduced, saying there was a choice between this approach and that of “the Tory candidate, who would continue to hike Londoners’ fares up every year”. Asked later by On London if he intends to extend his TfL fares freeze in his second term, Khan said his manifesto plans for transport would be revealed in due course.
Bookmakers are making Independent candidate Rory Stewart their second favourite behind a heavily odds-on Khan, and Stewart told Talk Radio last week that his own private polling is showing that he is picking up support and is “just behind the Conservative” and expecting to “very soon be in a strong second place”. However, when quizzed by journalists about his challengers after his speech, Khan indicated that his private polling backs up his “two horse race” description.
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