Sadiq Khan has spent 100 days in reverse gear, running away from his campaign promises at a breathtaking rate
He promised in his campaign that Londoners wouldn’t pay another cent for their travel in London by freezing fares, and that has not happened. Only single fares will be frozen leaving Travelcard and daily cap users paying more every year.
He promised 80,000 home built a year, and now he says that was an aspiration.
He promised 50% affordable housing requirement on new developments. He couldn’t achieve this, again called it an aspiration, and has watered down the policy into a 35% fixed rate on new private developments.
Sadiq Khan, in once again calling for TfL to take over the day-to-day running of Southern Rail, is casting himself as commuter’s knight in shining armour.
The reality however is that TfL running Southern’s disastrous services would be a monumental mistake, and a far costlier and riskier endeavour than using contractors, as it already does with other services like London Overground.
Southern needs reform from the ground up –something TfL will not be able to deliver with its existing team. The Mayor needs to stop making grand gestures of heroism that would do little to change things and instead come up with a sensible solution to end the misery for commuters.
The coming days of strike action for Southern Rail is a new low for a service most thought was already at rock bottom. Many services across the country have been able to modernise by removing guards without all these issues.
The RMT know that this change is inevitable, but they also know the service is in disarray, so they are taking advantage. It is these kinds of pointless strikes that show the law around industrial action needs to change, but what needs to change first is who is running Southern Rail.
The Mayor has been forced to row back on his 50 per cent affordable homes target after realising what I have warned for some time – that it is totally unfeasible to ask developers to effectively give away half of their new homes.
By continuing to insist on a 35 per cent target, the Mayor is doing nothing to incentivise developers to get building in London.
A one-size-fits-all affordable housing target risks stifling new housing development in the capital. We need a more business-minded approach that nurtures the housing market and ensures a better future for Londoners.
The dire situation facing Southern Rail passengers emphasises the need for Transport for London to take control of the franchise as soon as possible. It’s completely unacceptable that a major rail network is effectively brought to its knees by completely unnecessary industrial action. Transport unions should not be allowed to block sensible changes by striking in this way. The only people who lose out are the paying commuters.
These proposals need to be scrutinised to make sure they really make a difference to London’s environment. We all want to tackle NO2 emissions but most vehicles built after 2005 perform just as poorly as those built before so the cut-off date is meaningless.
Small business owners and ‘white van drivers’ with older company vehicles will effectively be taxed for travelling into the capital to work – that cannot be right. I’m in favour of constructive measures to improve London’s air quality but schemes like this make it harder to undertake strategies that will genuinely lower emissions.
Just four weeks after the election the Mayor’s flagship policy has been thrown out of the window. By raising Travelcard prices by inflation and breaking his biggest promise he is turning his back on those who showed faith in him. Hundreds of thousands of commuting Londoners use Travelcards, and thus will never see this freeze.
We’ve already seen Sadiq Khan row back on six of his election pledges – this is added salt in the wound for those who believed in his manifesto. Sadiq Khan was asked about his fares freeze thousands of times during the Mayoral campaign. Not once did he mention that this freeze would not include Travelcards. People may well conclude that he was happy to say anything to get elected and now he’s Mayor he’s very happy to ignore any promise that is inconvenient, and if they do think that who can blame them?
Sadiq Khan promised ‘zero days’ of public transport strikes on his watch but just 19 days into his mayoralty he looks to have failed to keep that pledge.
He criticised Boris for failing to placate the unions over the Night Tube, yet with barely one foot through the door of City Hall he has already ensured further disruption to London this summer with news of more strikes.
Sadiq Khan must have been dreaming when he promised he would prevent industrial action by ‘rolling up his sleeves and talking to everyone’. If he’s serious about ending strikes on London’s public transport he should back calls to ban them altogether. If not then Londoners will rightly assume that he’s unwilling to stand up to his union paymasters.
I welcome the fact that two of the five Night Tube lines are to open. However it is disappointing that the Mayor, who had a chance to be magnanimous and thank his predecessor for all the work he did to make the Night Tube happen, has instead chosen to attack him.
Given Sadiq Khan’s union paymasters have already delayed the launch of the Night Tube by 11 months, it’s no surprise that he’s trying to blame Boris Johnson. It’s good news that Londoners will finally see the launch of two lines in August, but we need to know when the remaining lines will finally see twenty-four hour operation and I’ll be seeking assurances that the Mayor won’t be trying to buy off the unions with more of Londoners’ hard-earned money.
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