Oral Update to the Mayor's Report

MQT on 2018-12-20
Session date: 
December 20, 2018
Question By: 
Tony Arbour
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


The Mayor will now provide an oral update of up to five minutes in length on matters occurring since the publication of his report.  Assembly Members have submitted two requests for topics for inclusion within the update.  Mr Mayor?


Oral Update to the Mayor's Report

Oral Update to the Mayor's Report

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Good morning.  Today we are publishing our Draft 2019/20 [Consultation] Budget, which covers the entire Greater London Authority (GLA) Group.  Over the last two and a half years we have already made great progress, from creating the £45 million Young Londoners Fund to starting to build more social rent homes than ever before.  This Budget will see this record of delivery continue at speed. 


However, it does come against the backdrop of the Government’s continued austerity drive.  The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has already had to make savings of £850 million and I am furious that this is set to continue.  Yet again, this Government is shifting the burden of police funding to council tax, which is deeply regressive, and hits the poorest the hardest.  The reality of the rise in violent crime and the Government’s cuts means I have no choice but to increase the police element of council tax by the maximum amount allowed.  This will enable us to do everything we can to give our police the resources they desperately need.  In total, we propose to commit an additional £95 million next year to policing and tackling crime from City Hall. 


I am also announcing today that City Hall and the GLA Group will be paying the settled status application fees for all our European Union (EU) employees.  Our EU staff are Londoners, they are critical to our work, they belong here and they will always be valued.  No one should be forced to pay to stay because their immigration status was changed through no fault of their own.


I have also stood up for London by criticising the Government’s proposed rules for migrants post‑Brexit.  If the Government chooses to move forward with their proposal to restrict tier 2 visas for skilled workers to jobs paying over £30,000 a year, it would see businesses struggle to fill thousands of crucial posts in key sectors.  I will be continuing to put pressure on the Government to think again and to change this short‑sighted political approach.


Finally, Chairman, toxic air pollution in London is a major public health crisis that is stunting the lung development of our children and leads to thousands of premature deaths.  We have prioritised cleaning up the Transport for London’s (TfL) bus fleet and now we need private hire vehicles (PHVs) and taxis to play their part and help us clean up our filthy air.  On Tuesday we announced a new £23 million scrappage scheme to help tackle London’s air quality crisis and support microbusinesses ‑ that is businesses that employ fewer than 10 staff ‑ to prepare for the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).  I have also called on the Government to step up and match this funding. 


Lastly, as everyone prepares to head off for a well‑earned break, I just want to wish the Assembly, all your hard‑working staff and everyone a joyful Christmas and a happy New Year. 


Tony Arbour AM (Chairman):  The same to you, Mr Mayor.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Chairman.  First of all, the oral update from Assembly Member Pidgeon that I had sight of. 


Delivery of the Northern line extension is progressing well.  Tunnelling of the whole route has been completed and the track has been laid from Nine Elms to Battersea in both tunnels.  The two stations are taking shape and the two junctions that connect with the existing Northern line at Kennington have also been completed. 


In terms of the opening date, as was reported in the public session of last week’s meeting of TfL’s Programme and Investment Committee, the end of December 2020 target is under review.  This has been driven by the need to adapt the construction programme as the designs for both Battersea Power Station’s oversight development and the Tube station underneath it have evolved.  There are very significant interdependencies between these two projects.  They need to be kept in close alignment with the line ready for when new commercial tenants and residents are moving in.  TfL and the developer have been working closely together to ensure that the interfaces are well‑managed. 


There are also other considerations related to the planned closure of the Bank branch of the Northern line that is timetabled for September 2021.  This is part of the Bank station upgrade and necessitates a full closure of that branch.  As well as making the operation of the line more complicated, the temporary closure of the Bank branch will have a significant impact on the overall capacity of the Northern line.  All services will run on the Charing Cross branch and there is clearly an imperative to do all we can to maintain frequencies at stations which are already very busy.  This is not an ideal operational context within which to introduce services onto the extension.  For all those reasons, TfL is reviewing the timetable for the extension.  This process is expected to be completed in the new year. 


With the granted costs of the project, it is fully budgeted for in TfL’s Business Plan and cost projections are broadly in line with the original budget set in 2014.  As with any major project, TfL has reviewed its forecasts over time and in January 2016 the forecast cost had risen to £1.26 billion.  Due to commercial sensitivity, this could not be made public at that time.  Earlier this month, it was reported to TfL’s Programme and Investment Committee that the most likely project forecast is £1.1 billion, so TfL has achieved some significant savings against the January 2016 cost projection.  It is important to point out that any delays with the opening of the Northern line extension are not having the same cost implications as seen for Crossrail.  Later delivery of the Northern line extension saves both capital and operating expenditure.  There is also limited value in running a new Tube line before the development it is there to serve will be ready.


Chairman, you also asked about an oral update in relation to the announcement made yesterday.  Urgent action needs to be taken on congestion and air quality in London.  Air pollution is a national health crisis that is stunting the lung development of our children and leading to thousands of premature deaths.  In April 2019, the ULEZ will be introduced in central London in the same area as the Congestion Charge zone and it will apply 24 hours a day.  At the same time, a new Cleaner Vehicle Discount will apply to the Congestion Charge and the PHV exemption will be removed.  These changes will not affect black cabs, but more must be done to make these vehicles cleaner and reduce their current environmental impact. 


Taxis contribute over 20% of NOx ‑ nitrogen dioxide and nitrogen oxide ‑ road transport emissions in central London and from 2020 will be the largest source of road transport NOx in central London.  The previous Mayor committed to achieving 9,000 zero emission capable (ZEC) taxis by 2020.  This was an extremely challenging target and despite the grants available to taxi drivers we need to do more to meet this ambition.  The proposals could reduce NOx emissions from taxis around 45% in 2022 and by 66% in 2025, transforming Londoners’ air.