Oral Update to the Mayor's Report

MQT on 2019-05-16
Session date: 
May 16, 2019
Question By: 
Jennette Arnold OBE
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Now we come to Item 3.  This is where the Assembly receives the Mayor’s report covering the period from 8 March to 2 May 2019.  The Mayor is going to give us a five‑minute oral update ‑ he can take less if he wants to ‑ on matters occurring since the publication of his report.  I have already received one request for an update, which has been provided to the Mayor, from Assembly Member Boff.  Over to you, Mr Mayor.


Oral Update to the Mayor's Report

Oral Update to the Mayor's Report

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Good morning.  Chair, I would like to start by paying tribute to our dear friend, Samantha Heath, who passed away recently.  Sam and I were both elected to Wandsworth Council in 1994 and as an Assembly Member and an environmental campaigner Sam helped devise some of the policies we are now implementing at City Hall.  I know we will all miss her dearly.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Thank you.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  On 8 April [2019] we launched the landmark Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to help reduce toxic air pollution and to protect Londoners’ health, and I am pleased to report that the ULEZ has been a huge success in its first month.  On 17 February 2017, when I announced plans to bring in the ULEZ, the percentage of vehicles driving in the central London zone that were compliant was 39%.  Since 8 April this year [2019], when the ULEZ began, 74% of vehicles detected in the central zone are compliant.  That means that they have met the ULEZ standards over an average 24‑hour period. 


Vitally, we have recorded a large reduction in the number of older, more polluting, non‑compliant vehicles, with over 9,400 fewer of these vehicles detected on average every day in April [2019] compared to March [2019].  This excludes days which were affected by disruption or unusual traffic behaviour, such as bank holidays.  This is building on the success of our other measures.  As a result, since February 2017 there were 36,100 fewer older, more polluting, non‑compliant vehicles seen in the zone on an average day, a reduction of around 58%. 


This is already translating into real‑world improvements in air quality, including a reduction of approximately 20% in nitrogen dioxide roadside concentrations in central London.  This shows that I was right to ignore the Conservative objections to my measures to protect lives and I would ask all Assembly Members to join me in now supporting the ULEZ for the benefit of all Londoners. 


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Since we last met, I have also been working ‑‑


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Just a moment.  We have a standing order query.


Gareth Bacon AM:  The Mayor has, as he has done repeatedly in previous circumstances, misrepresented the Conservative Group’s position on the ULEZ.  We are not opposed to the ULEZ.  We have said this repeatedly.  There are two party papers that were published two years ago where we welcomed the ULEZ.  As the Mayor well knows, the reservation we have is about bringing it in early because of the impact it will have on small businesses, but we are not opposed to the ULEZ.  We were in favour of it when it was conceived by his predecessor, Boris Johnson, and we remain in favour of it now.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  No.  No, sorry, Members, please give respect to the Member.  He raised a standing order query.  Can I just make it clear to Members that we are going to be respectful, for the next 12 months, of each other and this body.  If we are not, then we might as well just adjourn and all go off and do whatever else we think we have to do that is as important as representing London and holding the elected Mayor of London to account. 


I thank Assembly Member Bacon for bringing that to our attention through proper use of a standing order.  I say this to the Mayor.  We have heard the Leader of the Assembly [GLA Conservatives Group] clearly say that they are in favour but they have differences.  I hope that you will accept those differences and then we can move on.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chair, I accept that the Conservatives opposed me bringing this forward to April 2019, as has just been confirmed.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  That is right.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  All the improvements I have talked about would not have happened, had I listened to their objections.  It has also been agreed that they are against me extending this so those who live up to the North and South Circular can also see the benefits.  I am pleased he has clarified this, Chair.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Thank you.


Gareth Bacon AM:  There was no doubt.  We have been very clear.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  There are other ways that we can get to this, on the Environment Committee and elsewhere, and maybe a Plenary when we are dealing with papers in front of us as Members with the facts. 


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chair, can I, through you, thank the Conservatives for that point of order?  I hope the future ones are as helpful as that one was to me.


Since we last met, I have also been working on a number of other strategies and initiatives to improve the lives of Londoners.  This includes releasing figures that show a record‑breaking number of affordable homes were started with City Hall’s support last year [2018/19], continuing to do everything possible to tackle violent crime, not only by cracking down on criminals but on tackling the root causes of violent crime, and continuing to stand up for the best interests of Londoners by putting pressure on the Government to give the British people the final say on Brexit.  Thank you.  I look forward to answering further questions this morning.


Chair, as you indicated, there has been one request for an oral update, which I will deal with now, with your permission.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Yes.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The oral update is requested from Assembly Member Boff on Greater London Assembly (GLA) housing figures. 


14,544 affordable homes were started in London in 2018/19, more than in any year since City Hall took control of housing investment.  This includes 3,991 homes at social rent levels, the most since the end of the last Labour Government’s affordable housing programme.  It also includes the most council homes started in London since 1985, a tribute to the work of boroughs across London and the impact of my Building Council Homes for Londoners programme.  We should not underestimate how much of an achievement this represents because supply in London and around the country has been severely affected by the Government’s shambolic mishandling of Brexit, with the Bank of England now forecasting a fall in housing investment in 2019. 


It is crucial to emphasise that to truly build all the affordable homes that Londoners need requires national Government to play its role by devolving far more funding and powers to London.  We currently receive only a fraction of the funding needed, despite sending record amounts of stamp duty revenues to the Exchequer every year.  The Government makes over £3 billion from London’s property market every year in stamp duty but only sends around £0.7 billion back in affordable housing funding.