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New mayor – new promises, real change?

Sadiq Khan, our new mayor for the City of London was elected on 5 May 2016. Sadiq, the Labour candidate, beat Zac Goldsmith for the Conservatives who came second. After the second round voting he had a clear lead of 56.9%. He now has one of the largest mandates for any leader in Europe.

So what has he promised? – The new mayor stated in his manifesto, ‘My first priority will be tackling the housing crisis, we need to build more homes, including more genuinely affordable homes for Londoners, and fewer gold bricks for overseas investors.‘ This is a tall order considering the well-publicised housing crisis in London and the fact that there are simply not enough affordable homes. There is a desperate deficiency in social housing which has resulted in the waiting lists for social housing provided by Local Authority’s doubling. It is regularly publicised in the media that wealthy investors are snapping up properties in London, boosting the property market and as a result making it unaffordable for lower income families.

So what has our new mayor done so far? – One of his main pledges was to address rocketing transport fares in the capital. In fairness to him, it is notable that one of his first decisions, only a few days into his new term, was to introduce the one hour ‘hopper’ bus ticket scheme. This will allow passengers two journeys within a 60 minute window for the standard price of £1.50. In August, the long awaited 24 hour tube service will also be brought in at the weekends, much to the celebration of London’s revellers.

So, we can certainly say that the mayor is already sticking to some of his electoral promises and has effectively brought them in within his first month in office. This is in contrast to the last mayor, Boris Johnson, who failed to bring in the promised 24 hour tube service within his eight years as mayor.

However, the housing crisis is of such a scale and complexity that it may be difficult to know whether Mayor Khan has either the powers or the influence to be able to bring about real change. It seems very likely that he has to work with the government in a coordinated effort. We will have to wait and see whether such coordination and agreement can be reached between the political parties.