Thank you, Chair. Yes, I love this city. It is the greatest city in the world. This is the city that gave me the opportunity to go from the council estate where I grew up to being Mayor of the greatest city on earth. Every day I wake up even more passionate than the last about delivering the promise I made to Londoners to make London a fairer city where all Londoners get the opportunities that our city gave to me and my family.
I am proud that despite years of Government cuts and austerity supported by the Conservative Assembly Members around the Chamber, which devastated our city and our public services, we are delivering the changes that Londoners want to see.
We have prioritised tackling violent crime with our City Hall-funded Violent Crime Task Force, which is working around the clock to keep us safe, patrolling violent hotspots and undertaking weapon sweeps across our city. We have prioritised tackling the root causes of violent crime with our Violence Reduction Unit bringing together experts from the NHS, probation, education, councils, charities and community groups as part of our expanded public health approach to tackling violence.
We have prioritised tackling the climate emergency and introduced the boldest action of any city in the world to tackle toxic air pollution and climate change, including the introduction of the world-leading Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), all this in the face of opposition from Conservative members.
We have prioritised again - after years of inactivity from the previous administration - fixing London’s housing crisis, including starting to build more council homes last year than any year since 1984. We have also given residents and tenants the right to vote on estate regeneration plans and we are doubling our homelessness outreach teams.
We have prioritised making transport more affordable with all Transport for London (TfL) fares frozen for the third year running and millions of journeys taken on the unlimited Hopper bus fare.
We have prioritised making sure that all Londoners have the opportunity to gain from the benefits that culture and sport can bring to their lives and to use both as a tool to steer young Londoners away from crime and gangs and toward education and employment.
My priorities have the support of Londoners. I hope my priorities have the support of the Assembly, too, Chair.
Thank you, Mr Mayor. I am pleased to see that you are saying that crime and policing are a priority because you have that in your manifesto. Do you therefore regret your budget?
No, I am really proud of that, unlike the previous Mayor [Boris Johnson], in my first three years I have used all the tools available to increase funding for the police. In my first year I increased the precept the maximum allowed of 2.99%. The previous Mayor never did so. In my second year I raised the council tax to the maximum allowed of £12. The previous Mayor did not do so and was not allowed to do so. In my third year, I raised it to the maximum of £24, plus added business rates to increase the support the police receive. That has paid for 1,300 police officers and has avoided a cliff-edge fall in police officer numbers.
Yes, I hear what you say but, equally, we have had 67 deaths so far and nearly 2,000 knife crimes with injury. Therefore, the public and Londoners out there would rather see more money going into the police than into some of these schemes that you are doing like £30,000 on bicycle ballet. People do not want to know that that is where their taxpayer money is going. People want to know that money is going into policing. You are the only person in this room who has a policing budget. More money should be going into policing.
We have invested record sums in my first three years as Mayor compared to the previous eight of the previous Mayor. In 2010 the then Chancellor [of the Exchequer] announced massive cuts in the policing budget of £1 billion. We get 80% of our funding from central Government. In the first six years between 2010 and 2016, there was no additional money from the Mayor. In my first three years, we have increased record sums to the police. That is what is paying for our City Hall-funded Violent Crime Task Force. That is what is paying for the additional police we are seeing across London. We have doubled the amount of neighbourhood dedicated ward officers.
Mr Mayor, you have increased your culture budget by millions. You have increased your public relations by millions. We want to see money going on the streets. We want to see more police. However much you think you are doing, you are not being very successful at it. Let us face it. As I said, there have been 67 deaths and nearly 2,000 knife crimes. Therefore, clearly, more money should be spent by you on the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).
All right, then. Let us put it this way. Are you happy that taxpayers’ money is going on ridiculous things like bicycle ballet and all these cultural events that are going on when around the corner people are getting stabbed to death? Do you think that is acceptable?
What is important is for Assembly Members not to mislead the public. To pay for policing, you need to have constant revenue streams. What you cannot do is make a police officer redundant. What the Commissioner ‑‑
I am saying: do you not understand that the public out there, Londoners, would rather their taxpayers’ money was spent on looking after the safety of residents as a priority? You can go through a whole list of things you might think are good, but to prioritise means to put money where your mouth is. You have said that your top priority in your manifesto is to keep the people of London safe. You are not doing very well on that and you could do a lot better if you put your hand in your pocket and put more money into the MPS.
Mr Mayor, yes, I will interrupt you because you deflect whenever you can. The truth is we are talking about you. We are talking about your very sizeable £18.5 billion budget. We are ‑‑
I agree. That is why I have increased in record amounts the amount City Hall gives to the MPS. I have diverted monies from business rates to the MPS and have but also invested record sums in diversion and probation. It is really important to bear down on enforcement and the causes of crime as well. We are investing in trying to take action to address the causes of crime. That is why we have set up England’s first Violence Reduction Unit, supported, I would hasten to add, by a Conservative Home Secretary and a Conservative Government.
You are quite happy, then, that money is spent on bicycle ballet, splash parties and beach parties? You are quite happy that our residents’ money and our taxpayers’ money is spent on things like that instead of putting extra officers on our streets?
Let us deal with both of those things. The two examples given by the Assembly Member are an urban beach party and bicycle ballet. Let me deal with both of those things.
The urban beach parties began in 2013 and they began in the Royal Docks because the Royal Docks is an Enterprise Zone and they are enabled and entitled to use business rates from the Royal Docks to regenerate the community and attract more members of the community to come in to enjoy the Royal Docks. That is the first point ‑‑
The first part is that business rates from the Royal Docks are used for regeneration.
The second part is from the London Borough of Waltham Forest being the Borough of Culture. The Borough of Culture is paid for through a number of revenue streams, some from City Hall, some from Waltham Forest, some from trusts, some from sponsorship, some from foundations.
I thought that the Assembly Member would appreciate the benefits of culture to our city. Culture is really important.