Sadiq Khan manifesto promises ‘fairer London’ with pledges on transport, housing and crime

Sadiq Khan manifesto promises ‘fairer London’ with pledges on transport, housing and crime

Big ticket pledges on free school meals for all London primary school children and the Transport for London fares freeze were the centrepieces of Labour contender Sadiq Khan’s manifesto for the coming mayoral election, launched yesterday at a venue on the Greenwich peninsula.

The manifesto says that the meals programme, introduced last year, will be made permanent, with its complementary school holiday provision for low-income families continuing as well. The pay-as-you-go fares freeze, currently running until at least 2025, will also stay in place “as long as economic conditions allow”.

The meals pledge illustrated the “historic choice” facing voters in a “two-horse race” which was set to be the “closest London has ever seen”, Khan told his audience of London Assembly candidates, MPs, councillors, activists and Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner. “It couldn’t be clearer,” he said. “Free school meals extended by Labour or ended by the Tories.”

In a move Khan said after the launch was necessary to counter “lies, misinformation and disinformation” from his Tory opponent Susan Hall, the manifesto also confirms that the thresholds for the Ultra-Low Emission Zone charge would not change and rules out “a move to any form of pay-per-mile smart road user charging”.

Other policies were now in place to tackle polluted air and congestion, he said, with the manifesto promising a fully “zero-emission” bus fleet by 2030 – four years sooner than his previous policy pledges in this area. In addition, 40,000 electric vehicle charging points and the same number of bike parking spaces would be in place by the same year.

Support for more School Streets schemes, which restrict car access to streets close to schools at drop off and pick up times, continuing investment in “walking and cycling infrastructure” plus £3 million a year for more toilet facilities to be provided by TfL and step-free access across half the Tube network, also by 2030, would all contribute to boosting active travel.

The manifesto promises a “public transport revolution in outer London”, including a “second Superloop” bus service providing more “town centre to town centre” connections. Possible Superloop-style services could also be introduced along the routes of the proposed Bakerloo line and Docklands Light Rail extensions and the West London orbital route ahead of the funding for those projects being allocated.

On housing, the manifesto includes already-announced pledges to build 40,000 new council homes and 6,000 homes with rents capped at key worker income levels, to help an extra 1,700 homeless people off the streets every year in a bid to end rough sleeping altogether by the end of the decade, and to create a City Hall-owned housing development company.

There are, though, some new proposals too. One is to create “land assembly zones” and more mayoral development corporations to “unblock more homes”. City Hall’s London Plan policies, which govern development and has come under fire from Michael Gove, would be reviewed with the aim of going “even further in supporting the delivery of the affordable housing our city needs”.

Proposed action on crime includes recruiting up to 1,300 more police officers, community support officers and special constables, albeit dependent on funding from a Labour national government. The manifesto also highlights Khan’s financial investment in the Met and reductions in homicide, gun crime and the number of young people injured with knives since he first became Mayor in 2016. It points out that violent crime as a whole in the capital is lower than the England and Wales average, while conceding “there’s much more to do”.

Plans include £30 million for new youth clubs, £10 million for after-school activities and a renewed focus on tackling violence against women and girls in the form of a ten-point plan covering free legal advice, more safe accommodation for victims and survivors, outreach work in schools and new efforts to boost detection and prosecution rates.

The Mayor also announced funding for a network of “baby banks” providing childcare essentials across every London borough. They would be operated by charities along the lines of existing food banks and “ensure that a child’s basic needs are met from the moment they leave the maternity ward”.

The manifesto contains numerous other pledges, ranging from creating 150,000 new high-skilled and well-paid jobs by 2028 through a new London Growth Plan, to a possible bid to host the 2040 Olympics and an “ambitious” goal of making rivers in London swimmable within a decade.

TfL ticketing could be modernised, allowing concession holders to keep their passes on a phone instead of carrying an Oyster card, and young Londoners could be benefiting from an “Erasmus-style” scheme offering study and work experience overseas.

Khan would also bring 4G and 5G services to the whole of the Tube and rail network as well as the Elizabeth line by the end of next year, and will be supporting new statues and memorials, including to victims of the transatlantic slave trade, victims of HIV/AIDS, to the late Queen Elizabeth II.

The potential benefits of bringing bus operations into public ownership will be explored, and Londoners’ increasing interest in American sport would be addressed, with a new task force to entice more sports and sporting events to the capital, including NFL games and NBA basketball.

Missing, though, is any mention of lobbying for the relaxation of cannabis laws. Khan’s commission looking into this is not now expected to report until later this year, and Khan himself has suggested that the issue is not a high City Hall priority.

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1 Comment

  1. Clive Lawrence says:

    Khan has had seven years to get it right and failed miserably. Crime at a record level, London nightlife dying on it’s feet, foul air in the tube, miserable failures of his LTNs, introduction of cash cow ULEZ expansion and concealing the six month air quality report showing it’s wholly ineffective and just penalising decent less well off working people, free school meals for rich people’s children…I could go on but I’m bored listing his continual lies and failures. London is the capital city of our country, not Khan’s personal fiefdom. He’s not only failed Londoners he’s failed the country.

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