Susan Hall ‘contract with London’ manifesto on police, housing and transport

Susan Hall ‘contract with London’ manifesto on police, housing and transport

Sadiq Khan had Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner at his manifesto launch for next week’s mayoral election, and Liberal Democrat candidate Rob Blackie attracted his party leader Ed Davey, but Conservative contender Susan Hall took a lower-key approach this week.

She chose to launch her manifesto in a car repair shop in Bexley, perhaps befitting a concise set of pledges on “bread-and-butter” issues billed as her “contract with London”, albeit with a distinctly outer London tinge at least in parts.

The headlines have, of course, been extensively trailed since campaigning started – more “bobbies on the beat”, more family-size homes, low-rise but “high density”, and a pledge to scrap Khan’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion “on day one” of her mayoralty.

The manifesto also includes a last-minute commitment to maintaining Khan’s free school meals programme at least on a temporary basis, rowing back on Hall’s earlier suggestions that the scheme should be means-tested. And while it provides significant detail about Hall’s priorities, it retains a tight focus, not directly mentioning business, economic growth or culture, for example.

Enforcement in the ULEZ expansion zone would stop immediately, Hall promises, ahead of a formal consultation on removing it. Somewhat dramatically, she would also instruct Transport for London to “destroy” any plans for pay-per-mile road user charging, a scheme which Khan himself has ruled out.

There’s a wider attack too on Khan’s alleged “war on motorists”. Hall supports removing unpopular Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, 20 mph speed limits on main roads, cycle lanes she says are causing “unnecessary” disruption to traffic, and bus lane restrictions on taxis.

Her pledge to recruit 1,500 more police officers and a return to “borough-based” policing, no more police station closures and two new police “bases” per borough, would be backed by £200 million spending, the manifesto says.

That cash would come from cuts to the “bloated City Hall staff budget” and “excessive TfL staff perks”, though Council taxpayers may have to contribute as well, given the “urgent need to fund our police properly”.

There would be more stop and search too, with the “friction” Hall acknowledges the tactic causes among those who “feel unfairly targeted” mitigated by issuing handheld knife detection wands to make searches faster and less invasive.

Seven million pounds would provide a “knife arch” for every school that wants one, while specialist borough units would be set up to tackle burglaries, robberies, and thefts, a pledge backed by some stark statistics – a phone stolen in London every six minutes, and shoplifting costing local retailers more than £9 million per month.

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) gets particular attention. Hall would appoint a Women’s Commissioner to spearhead plans to “make our city safer for women”, and would invest in “safe spaces”, refuge provision and more CCTV on Tube trains.

Every borough would have access to “specialist VAWG officers” and Hall would also task the Met with providing additional VAWG awareness classes in schools, “so that boys and girls learn how to spot the signs and where to get help from”.

On housing, Hall would protect the Green Belt, restrict high-rise and prioritise family homes, while also encouraging “build to rent” and shared ownership schemes. Large-scale estate regeneration would be on the agenda too, and more car parking spaces would be allowed on new developments, while City Hall planning officers could be “lent” to boroughs to get planning decisions speeded up.

That would mean overhauling the London Plan, City Hall’s development blueprint for the capital, which councils have to follow when making decisions on individual planning applications. Hall would remove “excessive red tape” in the Plan which she says is holding back development on brownfield sites and surplus industrial land, “especially in areas close to train stations and transport hubs”.

More “green choices” are promised too, from extra charging points and more electric buses, particularly on routes with worse air quality, to expanding car clubs and encouraging more tree planting. “I will also work with boroughs to ensure allotments are maintained and continue to grow,” the manifesto says.

Most significantly, perhaps, the expanded ULEZ would be replaced with a £50 million “high pollution hotspots” fund, open to bids from councils. “We will target poor air quality at source and reduce it, instead of taking money from Londoners,” the manifesto says.

Other pledges include gradually expanding the Night Tube, reinstating morning concessionary travel for older people, action on discarded dockless bikes and dangerous “floating” bus stops, more TfL toilet provision, and providing real time network accessibility information online.

In a rare example of a cross-border proposal, Hall would also collaborate with councils just outside the capital to “deliver express bus services, connecting commuter towns outside Greater London to our bus network”.

X/Twitter: Charles Wright and OnLondon. Support and its writers for just £5 a month or £50 a year and get things for your money too. Details HERE. Photo from Susan Hall manifesto.

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