The Mayor of London has the best job in politics. It’s the most powerful directly-elected position in the country, with an enormous £19.4 billion budget and substantial policing, housing, and transport powers. Whoever holds this position has an unrivalled opportunity to deliver for the greatest city in the world – London.
As Mayor, Sadiq Khan has failed to grasp that opportunity. That much is clear, after a new YouGov poll found that 56 and 49 per cent of Londoners respectively think the Mayor has not done enough to make London affordable or safe.
Londoners’ verdict is hardly surprising. Our new report, Cost of Khan, reveals the extent of the Mayor’s failures in the past five years; he failed to stop crime spiralling out of control or build the homes he promised, and he’s hiked up every charge and tax in London to pay for his reckless spending.
On Khan’s watch, homicide rocketed to an 11-year high, knife crime increased by nearly 40 per cent to reach record levels, and neighbourhood crimes like robbery and burglary shot up by 74 and nearly 39 per cent, respectively.
When London needed leadership to tackle crime, Sadiq Khan was touring TV studios, passing blame. For the Mayor and his team, rising crime was a PR problem to be managed, rather than an emergency that they were responsible for solving.
Despite the Mayor’s excuses, he has the power and resources to keep London safe; Sadiq Khan is London’s Police and Crime Commissioner, and his mayoral budget has grown by over £3 billion in five years.
Instead of recruiting extra police officers, Sadiq Khan has repeatedly chosen to invest millions in fripperies. In five years, Sadiq Khan nearly doubled the size of City Hall’s bureaucracy, increased his press office budget by 33 per cent, and splurged millions of pounds on cultural projects, like bicycle ballets, drag acts, and beach parties. Sadiq Khan’s spending decisions show that he does not have Londoners’ priorities at heart.
The Mayor’s financial incompetence does not stop at City Hall; Sadiq Khan’s decisions and failings also broke the Transport for London (TfL) bank. Crossrail is nearly four years late and £3.9 billion over budget. His fares freeze lost at least £640 million in revenue for TfL. And he’s failed to reform TfL’s gold-plated pensions, bloated bonuses, and expensive perks.
Years of mismanagement under Khan left TfL crippled before the coronavirus pandemic began. Faced with a catastrophic collapse in fares revenue, the terrible state of TfL’s finances was laid bare. That’s why Sadiq Khan needed two bailouts worth £3.3 billion last year and has asked for at least one more in 2021.
Worse still, the Mayor is determined to push the cost of his financial incompetence onto Londoners. He’s hiked the Congestion Charge, increased Londoners’ council tax by nearly 32 per cent, is planning to extend the Ultra Low Emission Zone charge, and is considering a Greater London Boundary Charge.
The Mayor’s failure to build the affordable homes London desperately needs is also pricing working Londoners out of the city. He has no excuse for sluggish housebuilding; the Government granted him an unprecedented £4.82 billion housing investment to start building 116,000 homes. But, after four years, he’s not even started half of them.
For five years, Sadiq Khan has pleaded poverty, passed blame, and avoided responsibility, instead of delivering for London. He’s acted like a commentator on our nation’s politics, rather than a politician focused on delivering positive changes for the world’s greatest city. As his term ends, the Mayor’s record reveals the damning truth: Sadiq Khan is the worst Mayor of London we have ever seen.
Article by Susan Hall AM first published by Conservative Home.