Sadiq Khan regularly fails to show the respect due to the leaders of the 32 London boroughs. The councils that deliver services in London form the bedrock of local government in the capital and are inherently connected at a local level to those that live in the city. Put simply, to disrespect London’s boroughs is to disrespect Londoners.
Yet, despite Khan’s claim to be the “mayor for all Londoners”, his decisions have consistently demonstrated disrespect towards local government leaders and communities. The list of examples for such behaviour is long, but I will highlight two examples of his arrogance.
Take Oxford Street pedestrianisation for example. Khan had previously planned to impose his plans on West London residents, indicating that he would like the full pedestrianisation of one of Europe’s busiest shopping streets and the re-routing of all buses onto neighbouring roads. Following calls from concerned residents, Westminster Council rightly opposed these plans on both environmental and congestion grounds.
The council then rejected Khan ill-thought-through proposals and is putting forward its own, more sensitive proposals. Khan labelled Westminster’s reasonable decision a “betrayal”, ignoring the fact that Cllr Nickie Aiken recently led Westminster Conservatives to a well-deserved victory in the recent local election following a campaign to halt the pedestrianisation plans.
Sadiq Khan clearly intends to impose his Oxford Streets proposals on Westminster regardless of the wishes of the borough and local residents. As Mayor, I pledge that these plans will never go ahead without local support, and any investment in that part of West London will be allocated in complete and full partnership with Westminster council.
As has been said, for all of his talk of being a “mayor for all Londoners”, Sadiq Khan has shown little willingness to understand the specific character of those living in outer London. Nothing highlights this better than his Draft London Plan. His changes to local planning regulations are a direct attack on life in the suburbs. Perhaps the greatest threat to emerge from his London Plan are the new rules directed towards building on much-loved back gardens.
The previous Conservative London Plan helped local boroughs block housing and commercial developments on garden land. This was a hard-won policy that successfully protected many back gardens from development. Before the introduction of these safeguards, the London Wildlife Trust estimated that nearly 500 gardens were being lost every year due to housing development. Conservatives at City Hall put a stop to this and almost entirely halted development on garden land.
Despite the clear success of the previous system with protecting gardens, Sadiq Khan has removed these valuable safeguards. This not only ensures that London will once again begin to lose back gardens, but it also undermines the power of the London boroughs to ensure that new developments do not undermine much needed green space. This disproportionately affects those living in the suburbs.
I can fully commit that, if I become Mayor of London, I will appoint a Mayoral Advisor for Outer London - a role Sadiq Khan scrapped as soon as he entered office. This will ensure that the suburbs are never without a voice and that they are adequately represented within City Hall. I would also reverse Sadiq Khan’s damaging decision on back gardens. No community should see such a loss of green space.
As someone who grew up inner London and now lives in outer London, I know that the city needs a mayor that understands the character of all of our capital, not just central London. Our city also needs someone who is willing to work in complete partnership with the 32 boroughs, not in opposition to them.
There needs to be a joined-up and seamless relationship between City Hall and London’s councils. If elected as Mayor of London, I will empower our boroughs and fight their corner.
Shaun Bailey is a member of the London Assembly and is running to be the Conservative candidate at the next Mayoral election