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Decisions and challenges

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 23rd January 2020.

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Photo of Susan Hall Susan Hall Conservative

Do you think you’ve always been honest with Londoners about the decisions you’ve made and the challenges you’ve faced as Mayor?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

I think it is somewhat ironic that a Conservative Assembly Member has raised honesty as an issue, given the events of recent weeks.

I am pleased that at City Hall we are taking a different approach delivering change for our city, whilst being honest and transparent about the decisions we make. We said we would make tackling air pollution and climate change a key priority, and we are now taking the boldest action of any city in the world. This includes the introduction of the world-leading Ultra Low Emission Zone this year and declaring a climate emergency in London.

We said to Londoners that it would be impossible to solve the housing crisis overnight, but we are now laying the foundations to fix the mess we inherited. This includes starting more council homes last year than in any year since 1984, giving residential tenants the right to vote on estate regeneration, and doubling our homelessness outreach teams.

We said we would make transport more affordable for millions of Londoners, and we have made sure that TfL fares have been frozen for four years in a row, and we have introduced the unlimited Hopper bus fare.

We have said we would implement a long-term public health approach to tackle violent crime, and that is exactly what we are doing through the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) and the £45 million Young Londoners Fund, which is creating new opportunities for young Londoners to fulfil their potential.

Photo of Susan Hall Susan Hall Conservative

Thank you, Madam Chairman. Because of your caustic remark at the beginning, I can assume you are referring to the election. Quite frankly, you backed Jeremy Corbyn to be the Leader of your party, and then the minute you lose, very badly as it happens, you then want him out. I suggest you should have brought a bit more honesty into that and gone for him before the election. It would have been more credible.

Going back to our question, Mr Mayor, the reason I have used the word “honesty” is because you did a speech on the causes of crime in July and you mentioned the word “honesty” 24 times. Mr Mayor, in all honesty, do you think you have made London safer in 2019?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

I think we have. I will give you some examples of why I think we have. We have England’s first VRU set up in London, and the fact that we have made progress is demonstrated by the fact the Home Office had confidence in giving us funding for the VRU.

We have invested millions of pounds of money in young Londoners. For example, we have reached 73,000 young Londoners who, until the Young Londoners Fund, were not being reached. It is really important to divert them away from criminal gangs and picking up a knife.

The evidence appears to be coming now from the police that the number of those under-25s suffering knife injuries has gone down over the last year, roughly speaking, by 13%. It is still far, far too high, but the police are pleased that progress is being made when you bear in mind that across the country we are still seeing a massive increase. One example of the difference we are making in London is, if you look at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for I think June, over the preceding 12 months across the country, violent crime involving knives is going up by 13%. In London, the increase has been 0.7%. It is not good enough - we need to do much better - but I think we are starting to see some of the impact of our policies across London. At the same time we have had to deal with massive cuts from Government, and at the same time we are still seeing massive increases across the country.

Photo of Susan Hall Susan Hall Conservative

Mr Mayor, I think you are delusional. First of all, we are talking about London. This year there has been a record number of knife crime offences: 15,485. We have seen 142 murders, which is a record number as well, and you can honestly say you think the city is safer?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

I simply answered in the fact that we have had over the last year a reduction in the numbers of under-25s who have suffered knife injury. We are also seeing a reduction in some other areas of crime. That shows the progress we are making. The context is, though, during the last year, there have been periods where we have had fewer than 30,000 officers. The last time we had that few officers was 2003. I do not think you can have a conversation about reducing crime and violence without accepting, as I am sure you do, the massive cuts made over the last nine years.

Photo of Susan Hall Susan Hall Conservative

Yes, we do, which is why the budget amendment last year said how you could put more police on our streets of London, and they would be there now if it were not for you.

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Let us deal with that. Chair, let us deal with that.

Photo of Susan Hall Susan Hall Conservative

Mr Mayor, isn’t the simple truth that we have record knife crime, record murder numbers, and yet you as a Mayor have wasted a record amount of taxpayers’ money? £19 million or more on City Hall staff, £9.4 million on public relations (PR), and £32.7 million on TfL perks. That is the truth of it, is it not? You have wasted all this money instead of putting more money on the streets of London, and London is what you are responsible for. Quite frankly, because of your decisions, this city is a lot less safe than it could be. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

No, it is not “thank you”. No, that is a question, and you will receive an answer from it.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

Can you pick up all the points that Assembly Member Hall has raised? Thank you.

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

The first point I would make is a rant may be a good clip for a Tweet, but it is not a serious discussion about violent crime. I think for a politician to play political games when there are bereaved families across our city is a disgrace. Unlike previous Mayors, I write to bereaved families who have suffered a loss on the streets of our city and I meet with them. They would be appalled at the sort of posturing made by Members of this Assembly this morning on this very important issue. I take it really seriously. It is an issue. We have seen over the course of the last few years serious youth violence going up since 2012 and violent crime going up since 2014, not just in London but across the country. I am willing to work with anybody to solve this issue. I have written to the Minister for London ‑‑

Photo of Susan Hall Susan Hall Conservative

Thank you, Mr Mayor. Thank you --

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

No, no. Assembly Member Hall, you are not chairing this meeting.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

It is not for you to say to the Mayor, “That is OK”. No. You will listen to me.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

You will receive a full response to the comments that you have made to the Mayor. This is Mayor’s Question Time, and you will sit quietly or I will find the appropriate Standing Order to name you.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

Thank you. Carry on, Mr Mayor.

Photo of Susan Hall Susan Hall Conservative

And use up our time, yes.

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Chair, one of the things we are doing is working with other key partners, not just the police, but schools, social services, civil society and the Government to try to deal with the causes of crime as well as crime.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

Thank you very much. I just want Members to understand that I am here to chair the London Assembly’s Mayor’s Question Time --

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

-- and I would ask the Mayor and all Members to stay to the questions that are listed and to remember you are here working for Londoners, and Londoners expect you to put these questions and to get answers, and they are really not interested in anything else. That is my view on it, and I say it again: there is a standing order that asks for a Member to be named, and I will not hesitate to use that and ask that Member to be removed from the Chamber. Thank you very much.

Now I will go to the next question, and that is Assembly Member Prince. You indicated you had a question for the Mayor.