As one of four Conservative candidates for Mayor, I have unparalleled knowledge and experience of London and not just the pockets in which I have served. I am proud to have attended over 64 public meetings in total in all 32 London boroughs, listening to the views of Londoners.
Here’s a link to the section called ‘Ask Me Anything’ in last night LBC’s debate where Andrew Boff, Syed Kamall and Zac Goldsmith were able to ask me any question they liked about my plans for London:
Watch the LBC Conservative Mayoral Debate in full:
Last night’s Triborough event. I really enjoyed the meeting and the opportunity to address grassroots members in central London.
Don’t miss your chance to vote! You must register to vote for your Conservative candidate for Mayor of London and registration closes on Monday 14th September.
With London’s economy growing at twice the rate of the rest of the country, it is fashionable to conclude that its future growth and prosperity is assured. The implication is that the challenge for a future Mayor is to grapple with the problems that arise from this future growth. However, I do not believe that London’s future growth and prosperity can be taken for granted. We should remind ourselves that London’s population was in steep decline for 40 years. It has taken another 35 years since 1980 just to get back to the same number of people living in London as there were in 1940!
London’s population density is half that of New York or Paris. London covers a very large area even if by world city standards its population is not as great as others – by way of comparison New York city with 8.5 million people covers some 305 square miles whereas London has 8.6 million over 607 square miles. Londoners therefore are more likely to have to travel further on average to get to work and yet tube and rail fares in London are far and away more expensive than any similar metro/rail systems in any other comparable city in the world. This disparity if not checked will act as a brake on future London growth. It is not just desirable to reduce the burden of tube and rail fares, it is an absolute necessity if we are to continue to provide a prosperous future for our citizens.
As leader of Hammersmith & Fulham council, people told me that I would not be able to reduce council tax and yet we cut it 6 times over 8 years such that it ended up the 3rd lowest council tax in the country. When I promise, I deliver! Now people tell me I will not be able to reduce tube/rail fares. As a Conservative London Mayoral candidate I have pledged to cut tube and rail fares by 3 per cent each year so that the average fare payer would be £900 better off over a mayoral term.
TfL is a multi-billion pound a year entity which owns 5,700 acres (c9 square miles, equivalent to bigger than the entire borough of Camden) of land, 1,000 shop units and 61 car parks. TfL does not need to retain all this land to deliver a world class public transport network! It is wrong for TfL to have the ambition to become the London’s largest development company. If its land is surplus to operational requirements it should be sold in a way which would provide a better return. The key to building more homes in London is better use of public land. In Hammersmith & Fulham, I sold off over £100 million worth of council property, which delivered hundreds of new homes. In my current role as Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime(MOPAC) for London, I have taken the police out of buildings and put them on the streets in neighbourhoods. Releasing underutilised police buildings will have raised £1 billion to reinvest in policing. However the benefits go beyond policing and also boost London’s economy with these buildings providing at least 4,000 new homes, 12,000 jobs, 9 new schools and 10 acres of open land for London. If elected Mayor of London, I will take the same approach with TfLand have pledged to sell 1,000 acres of surplus land in my first term. That’s enough for 50,000 new homes and would raise £20 billion. TfL is also by the way a massive procurer of multi-million pound contracts as well as maintaining a huge bureaucracy occupying large costly central London locations. As I have done in the past at Hammersmith & Fulham and MOPAC, the organisation will need to be restructured, improved and made fit for purpose.
In these ways I will be able to reduce the proportion of the fares going to cover overheads and maintain the capital investment programme which is so necessary to delivering the greater capacity (and the increased number of travellers) on the Tube. It is right that fare payers should reap the reward of this in the form of cheaper fares. In this way a future Mayor can tackle the high cost of living burden on Londoners and help to secure the future prosperity of our city.
Mayoral hopeful and Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh said if he becomes Mayor Londoners will see the cost of thier commute go down.
He says fares will be cut by 3 per cent, in his plan to treat TfL with a stronger business-like focus.
The hustings debate was chaired by the Evening Standard’s Editor, Sarah Sands, held at the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington.
The London Mayoral candidates that took part were; Zac Goldsmith the Conservative MP for Richmond Park, Stephen Greenhalgh the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Syed Kamall the Conservative member of the European Parliament for London, and Andrew Boff, a London Assembly Member.
Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime
We have an infantile system of government where we have to go and get money in our city where there’s an economy of £350 billion. London’s economy is growing and I would like to see greater devolution. We already raise money so we should be able to keep that money. We raise the money over here and spend it over here, that’s where we will be held to account.
In my area of policing and crime it is critical to make sensible savings. Let’s ask for devolution of London’s criminal justice system, let’s get a system to focus on reducing reoffending. Let’s have a service where people work together, share control rooms and save money.
|Programme(s)||LBC 97.3 Ken Livingstone and David Mellor|
|Date & time||Saturday 25 July 2015 10.36|
|Subject/Interviewee||Interview – Stephen Greenhalgh|
Ken Livingstone, presenter: We’re moving straight from who should be the next Labour leader to who should be the next Tory Mayor of London, and whilst we’re talking, I suspect, all the candidates are being interviewed and vetted one by one by some, you know, ghastly little committee of people poking and prying at them, and…
David Mellor, presenter: Whose sole qualification has to be they’ll do what Dave wants them to.
KL: Well, there are these rumours that they’re going to try and rig the panel of candidates so just Zac Goldsmith flows through. So we’ve got somebody here who has been deeply embedded in Boris’s administration, in charge of policing in London, Stephen Greenhalgh.
Stephen Greenhalgh, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime: Welcome, Ken, thank you.
KL: Now, why are you running for it?
SG: Well, because I want the job. I think it’s a fantastic job to have the opportunity to shape the greatest global city on earth. You know, as much as anybody, except for Boris perhaps, just how much the job can achieve in London if the powers are used for the people of London.
KL: But you’ve got a disadvantage, because Zac Goldsmith is saying ‘if I’m the candidate, I’ll, you know, give £3 million to run my campaign and all that, and you can’t find £3 million’. Do you think this is right that someone can actually almost buy the thing?
DM: Buy the candidacy, anyway, yeah.
KL: Come on, slag off Zac Goldsmith, please.
SG: Well, I’m not going to, because I’m going to run my own campaign and it will be the way I started my political career from a ward then a ward chairman with my two friends, close friends, that I worked with, and then we built that branch up, and then I got onto the association and then became a local councillor to the very ward where my parents came to when they came to London. I served there for 16.5 years. I was a council leader for six years.
DM: Yeah, leader of Hammersmith, we need people to know that…
SG: Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, and I worked my way up from the bottom, if you like, and I make no apologies that my campaign will be much more of a grassroots campaign.
DM: So you and Ken, you and…
KL: We’re the same. We’ve got…
DM: That was the point exactly I was going to make, so why isn’t he a lefty?
KL: No, but during the break, you and Stephen were talking…
DM: I’m sorry…
KL: …and both of you were getting on fine, because your local government were at your fingertips.
DM: I have this sense that someone with Stephen’s experience is much more likely to be a more effective mayor than someone who sort of breezes in with a Pepsodent smile and some money in his pocket.
KL: I think this is the problem with our politics. I mean, when you and I came into politics, David, everybody broadly followed this route. You did something local like run a small business or, you know, regional union official or something like that; now it’s all these people straight out of doing politics and philosophy at Oxford or Cambridge, and then political advisor and then they’re… I mean, the tragedy is, and I’ve said before, I mean, Cameron and Obama and Blair, the first thing they get to run is the whole country.
DM: Well, I mean, I remember, funnily enough, it’s very interesting for you to say that, a friend of mine, who was a very successful businessman, a very successful fixer for the Democratic Party, senior ambassador under Clinton – he was one of Clinton’s main backers – he assured me in Obama’s first election that, you know, although Obama, he agreed, had been a social worker in Chicago only four years before he ran for President, Obama was so bright, he’d been an editor of the Harvard Law Review, he’d make a great job of it. Well, I spent part of my New Year’s holiday with dear old Ed [Elson] in Florida last year and I said “How are you feeling about it, Ed?” and then he said “well, he’s been a disaster”, and part of the reason he said, you know, he thinks the people who got him elected, and the people who run a government, made every mistake in the book, and we even have Obama – we’ll be talking about this later on – talking about, you know, the things he failed to do, gun control, all that sort of stuff and…
SG: Well Cuomo got it right, didn’t he? You govern in prose but you have to campaign in poetry and very few people can do both.
DM: Exactly. Now, look…
KL: Hang on, before we move on, while we’re still dealing with our origins. I mean, before you got into politics, what was your chosen career? What did you do?
SG: Well, I’m going to disappoint you, Ken, because the only place I’m going to go to is Cambridge, my dad was the first person in his family to go to university, and I grew up with maps of Cambridge colleges in front of me, and I went to Trinity, because I was taken there as a kid. I left there and joined Procter and Gamble, worked my way through brand management. It was the boot camp of marketing and learning how to run businesses. I tried to set up my business. It didn’t work out the first time and eventually got that going, and it’s now a local business and employs nearly 30 people.
KL: Yeah, right, so you’ve actually run and you’ve learnt from mistakes.
SG: If you get it wrong, don’t make the same mistake twice. That’s my definition of stupidity.
DM: Now, Stephen, what is troubling me is the manner in which… we know how far… and I obviously don’t expect you to criticise David Cameron, but you know, we don’t need to, I can do all that’s needed on that, who in his attempts at party management, he has an A-list, a lot of manipulation going on, very little is left to chance. There are rumours that what they’re looking for is only to let two or three people through to the short list that is then voted on by Tory Party members, and since this is more of a coronation than an election, there are two other candidates, the leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council…
SG: Westminster City Council.
DM: Westminster, sorry. A woman who is, obviously, gifted but hasn’t been around for very long and an MEP whose name even eludes me, such as you who is a household name. The worry is that you will not survive today, and yet, how can they not allow to go on the ballot someone who is deputy mayor and who has a record of service to the Conservative Party at local government and at London Government level stretching back more than two decades. How could that happen?
SG: Well, it has not yet happened. And the truth is that I think the party needs competition, competition is a good thing, it is one of the reasons that I think and believe that enterprise is important, it is what drives growth and growth can drive prosperity and it can benefit everybody. And if we have a coronation, I don’t think that is good for anybody, including the front-runner.
KL: Let’s work on the assumption you get the nomination, which Labour Candidate would you most fear? Which do you think would be your strongest opponent?
SG: Do you know I started watching… I mean, I concentrate on my own race, but I am interested that David Lammy nicked an idea of yours around this bond idea, which is, effectively, the values…
KL: Not James Bond, it is municipal bond.
DM: Is Municipal Bond James Bond’s cousin or what?
SG: And I think that idea of using the inherent value of the land in London to borrow against and build things is absolutely the right way to go. That is how you can shape a city, so it is a good idea, I will nick it.
KL: This is the key thing, it is investment. Every economics and [inaudible] investment, and there is no discussion about this taking place in the Labour leadership contest or our investment that was in Britain basically the lowest since the Second World War. And if you look at… London’s success today is based on the fact that we did get a lot of investment in transport, in the Olympics and now Crossrail coming along and that is what attracts the private sector to then come.
DM: Stephen, can I just press you just one more time on this.
DM: Are you worried that this small group of people who will be evaluating you today for reasons I cannot begin to comprehend might prefer to have Zac running against a woman and someone with an Asian heritage, rather than a tough guy like you. Could you accept it, if you were excluded, when you have done so much? Don’t you deserve – regardless of what they say – your chance with the people.
SG: David, life is not fair, but I am going to give it my best shot, and that is all I can do. I can’t control the committee. I don’t know many of the people on the committee, I will do my best, and then I will have to take stock.
DM: Why do the Tories not trust the people? I mean, I appreciate they have got one or two weirdos like Ivan Massow, who has just made himself self-publicist and a whole lot of other things. I was saying, when you have got John Bercow and Ivan Massow, you realise if your name ends in O-W, you have got problems. But basically, what is it, why don’t the Tories trust the people. The job of the Evaluating Committee should be to say whether that person, and it was last time, because I know various people who were on that committee last time, when Boris went through. The assessment was, ‘was that person capable of being a credible candidate’? How can they run it on any other basis? And manifestly, you are capable of not just being a credible candidate; you’re capable of being an extremely credible candidate, so why don’t they trust the Tory voters to make that decision.
SG: Well, that is a really nice one. I think we have to see. I personally believe as every person in the race that has commentated on this that we should have a very broad field. It doesn’t cost anymore to have more names on a ballot paper. So frankly, I would have everybody on the ballot paper and have very… you know, and just let people decide.
KL: You should say when you get to that committee later on in the day, you should point out that Labour has allowed everyone who got a nomination from the CLP on that list, and if the Tories rig this, we might mention it during the campaign once or twice.
DM: Well, indeed.
SG: I think we already have, Ken, actually, to fair.
DM: Zac Goldsmith is a maverick, a wealthy maverick who will abort the nomination is a disaster waiting to happen, but there we are. The last person I said that to was a man called Archer, when I said to him, private dinner, ‘Jeffrey, why are you running to be Mayor of London, you cannot survive the scrutiny of an election campaign?’ and with his great respect for truth, Jeffrey said, ‘Well, I haven’t decided to run anyway’, when he had already appointed his treasurer and god knows what. Anyway, this is LBC, it is 10.46