Oral Update to the Mayor's Report

MQT on 2019-06-20
Session date: 
June 20, 2019
Question By: 
Jennette Arnold OBE
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  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 several requests for topics for inclusion within the update and those details were provided to you, Mayor.  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.  Can I associate myself fully with the comments you made in your opening about various matters.


Chair, London has suffered five terrible homicides over the last week.  Every single death as a result of violent crime like this is an utter tragedy, leaving lives destroyed, families heartbroken and communities reeling.  Several arrests have now been made following these horrific attacks and some charges have been brought too, and our under-resourced and overstretched police are working around the clock to keep Londoners safe.


As Mayor, I am determined to tackle this problem head-on with a relentless focus on both arresting violent offenders and tackling the root causes.  There is no getting away from the fact that this has been made far worse by the Government’s huge cuts to the police and preventative services like youth services, local councils and charities across our city.  Cuts really do have consequences, something now finally even the Government and the Conservative leadership candidates admit.  We will continue to do all we can in London, but the new Prime Minister (PM), whoever that may be, must act and do the right thing by properly funding our police and preventative services.


Today is Clean Air Day and I am pleased to take this opportunity to announce new plans for London’s biggest ever car-free day.  This will take place on Sunday, 22 September 2019, and will include 20 kilometres of closed roads around Tower Bridge, London Bridge and much of the City of London.  Our aim is to give Londoners and visitors the opportunity to reimagine their city without any cars and to enable them to enjoy free events on streets across the capital.  This will be a great opportunity for Londoners to leave their cars behind and to explore London by foot, bike or public transport.


Chair, since we last met I have been working on a number of strategies and initiatives to improve the lives of Londoners.  This includes investing £6 million in 15 new projects to tackle air pollution and climate change, and setting out plans for a major expansion of London’s electric vehicle charging network.


I would like to end my opening remarks by paying tribute to the London Fire Commissioner, Dany Cotton [QFSM], who has today announced her retirement after 32 years of service at the London Fire Brigade (LFB) and as London’s Fire Commissioner.  Dany is a true role model who has broken down barriers for women in London and inspired people who would not otherwise have considered being firefighters to join the Fire Brigade.  I wish her the very best in retirement when she leaves the Brigade next year [2020].


Chair, I have also been asked, as you mentioned, for three separate oral updates.  The first one is on Hammersmith Bridge.  Yes, we will want to meet with the Government on this.  The ongoing technical work to understand options and potential costs includes analysing the detailed inspections and surveys that have been taking place to understand the bridge’s condition.  Understanding this information is vital to help establish the best repair option.  This work is nearly complete.  Both Transport for London (TfL) and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham expect to have a better idea of costs and timeframes for the chosen repair option in August [2019].  I will also be seeking to make cross-party representations to the Government at that time.  As well as working with Hammersmith and Fulham, TfL is working closely with Richmond Council and I hope that this kind of joint approach will ultimately be beneficial for the residents of west London, who, understandably, want to see the bridge open again.  TfL, Richmond, and Hammersmith and Fulham appeared together at a public meeting last night to answer questions from residents. TfL is looking to arrange further sessions in the coming months so that the local community is kept fully informed as the plans for repairing the bridge are finalised.


TfL is continuing to invite feedback from passengers about the changes that it has made to the local bus network in response to the closure.  It is carefully monitoring the situation and reviewing the feedback it has received to help decide whether further changes are needed.  It has already introduced more buses on route 33 in response to its monitoring and comments received.


The second question, Chair, is from you about violent crime.  These homicides in London are heart-breaking.  Every life lost to violent crime is a tragedy and even more keenly felt when it is a young person.  Every death is one too many.


In response to these homicides, our under-resourced and overstretched police have been working incredibly hard.  As always, I have been in contact with the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [Cressida Dick CBE QPM] and her Deputy [Sir Stephen House QPM] and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has increased the coverage of the City Hall-funded Violent Crime Task Force in targeted areas across London.  Officers from across the boroughs, supported by colleagues from specialist units, also undertook high-visibility patrols to prevent further violence and to provide reassurance to the communities in those areas.


However, we know that enforcement is only part of the picture.  That is why I am investing over £7 million into our new Violence Reduction Unit, funding £45 million of activity and services for young Londoners, and delivering services across the capital to support those who wish to turn away from violence to be able to do so.


These latest homicides are a sobering reminder of why we must never be complacent in the face of violence.  Even as the MPS reports reducing levels of violence, with the number of victims of knife crime aged under 25 down by 20% over the last year and homicides down by 30%, I am determined to continue to do everything in my power to prevent more Londoners becoming victims of violent crime.


The final question, Chair, by way of a request for an oral update is from Assembly Member Russell.  I am truly disappointed that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has announced its opposition to TfL’s proposals for the Wood Lane‑to-Notting Hill Gate walking and cycling scheme.  What is particularly concerning - and frankly remarkable - is that this was done whilst the consultation was still open, a consultation the borough was actively inviting people to have their say on.  The Council has made a mockery of the whole process.  The scheme was developed in partnership with the borough, which controls roads along part of the route.  TfL was happy for Kensington and Chelsea to take a neutral stance when the plans were published and for them to form a position, having considered consultation feedback.  TfL was and still is willing to consider design changes to address key concerns.  TfL has received more than 5,000 responses to the consultation and many of these views are being ignored by the borough.  Kensington and Chelsea cannot claim to have listened to residents when the consultation has not even finished, nor can it claim to have properly assessed the scheme given the design process has yet to be completed.


These roads are unsafe for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.  There have been 293 collisions over the last three years over the route, 65 on Holland Park Avenue alone, with the vast majority of serious injuries to cyclists and pedestrians.  None of these casualties are acceptable.  In my view, it is not an option to stand by and do nothing.  TfL’s plans would make it easier to cross busy roads with 15 new pedestrian crossings in locations where people actually want to cross and a segregated space for people to cycle safely.  The borough’s own Local Implementation Plan aims to encourage more trips by walking, cycling and public transport and fewer by private car.  Kensington and Chelsea now needs to set out how it plans to deliver safer streets and more attractive neighbourhoods.