London has a significant housing crisis and Sadiq Khan, the frontrunner in the mayoral election race, just made some pretty radical pledges over how he would help people living in the capital.
The MP for Tooting, speaking at a debate attended by Business Insider in Kensington Temple, west London on Tuesday evening, reaffirmed two key promises:
1. To make 50% of new housing affordable by introducing a “London living rent.”
That would mean tenants would spend no more than a third of their salary on rent.
2. He promised to give “first dibs” to Londoners and stop new housing developments being sold-0ff to foreign investors.
In other words, he would install some stringent controls over how properties are rented or sold.
This could be a popular pledge amongst voters considering little supply but high demand has pushed the average price of houses in London to £524,000, according to the Office for National Statistics data.
To put this into perspective, the average Briton earns around £30,000 a year in London.
Renting is not much better either.
According to a YouGov poll commissioned by estate agents Knight Frank in December last year, a third of Londoners are now prepared to spend 50% of their salary on rent. A month later, according to HomeLet data sent to Business Insider, rent in London averaged £1,596 in 2015.
Pledges to tackle terrorism
debate on Tuesday evening — chaired by BBC journalist Christopher Landau — gave the capital’s Christian community the chance to put questions to the panel of Khan, Conservative Zac Goldsmith, Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon, Green Party candidate Sian Berry, and David Kurten who was representing UKIP’s Peter Whittle, on a number issues facing Londoners.
The debate was not as feisty as last week’s head-to-head clash between Khan and Goldsmith, who during the event hosted by City AM argued over allegations of Islamophobia levelled at the latter by Labour MP Yvette Cooper. The hustings on Tuesday evening did pause briefly for a moment midway through, however, when a member of the audience yelled “you’re a racist, Zac!” to the Conservative candidate.
Labour candidate Khan highlighted how the capital faces a very serious threat from religious extremists, and pledged to introduce a number of hard measures to protect Londoners.
“I have a plan for tackling terrorism. I want a major review of emergency services’ ability to respond to terrorist incidents. I want to bring back neighbourhood police officers,” he said.
“We also need to put uniformed officers back on the streets of London, and we need to seriously step up the number of armed officers we have.”
Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith made similar pledges, saying he would put 500 more police officers on the city’s tube network if elected mayor.
Last month, Britain’s Home Officer minister James Brokenshire accused Khan of changing his position on armed police’s right to shoot to kill in order to appear “tougher” on security issues in the run-up to the May election.
Khan in March said he gave his “full backing” to London’s armed officers to do what’s necessary to keep the city safe, but in 2005 expressed reservations about the shoot to kill policy, after the shooting of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes who was mistaken for a terrorist.
Afterwards, Goldsmith from the Conservative party said he wanted to see a “leap to localism,” and if elected mayor, he would lobby the government to devolve more powers to local authorities so they can deal more directly with problems like homelessness. He also re-affirmed his pledge to invest in Transport for London in order to unlock public-owned brownfield land and build more homes.
All candidates agreed that maximum betting allowances should be imposed on fixed-odds betting in betting shops across the city in order to stop lower-earners being exploited by commercial betting companies.
The latest ComRes opinion poll published this week said Khan is on course to become the next mayor of London with a six to ten point lead over closest rival Goldsmith. The Tory candidate has struggled to make any notable ground with the election fast approaching, according to multiple polls published this month.
The London mayoral election will take place on Thursday, May 5.