In the packed Islington Assembly Hall on Tuesday, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and members of the London Assembly faced questions from ordinary Londoners on a number of topics. But it wasn’t just the floor who gave him a grilling…
In his speech, Sadiq Khan reflected on the difficult times which have faced London during his mayoralty: Brexit, terrorist attacks, Grenfell, the rise in violent crime. But he outlined progress which he claimed had been made, particularly in affordable and council housing.
In setting out his priorities of tackling the causes of violent crime and making London welcoming for EU citizens in the face of Brexit, he acknowledged that there was no quick fix but that his solution is more money and more power from central government.
From a planning perspective, questions from the floor focused mostly on regeneration, renting, and affordable housing.
The answers did not give us a huge amount of new information but confirmed that the Mayor is looking for more powers with regards the Private Rented Sector and confirmed his relatively pro-development stance, affordable housing dependent naturally.
Whilst the responses from Sadiq were perhaps not the most illuminating, it was clear that he has begun the build to up the next Mayoral election, with the recent announcement of Shaun Bailey AM as the Conservative candidate for his job. He was on the attack throughout the session.
With Conservative AMs at one point heckling Sadiq, it was clear that they too were on the offensive, and the relationship between the two parties is moving towards the more adversarial election period.
Sadiq wasn’t given an easy ride from Green and Liberal Democrat assembly members either, with both Sian Berry and Caroline Pidgeon criticising him over rent capping and cuts to bus services. However, it was clear that the relationship between them and Labour was much more amicable.
With the Mayoral elections 18 months away, Sadiq Khan cannot afford to be complacent. He had a good reception in Islington, but few tangible answers to the problems that Londoners are facing. Whilst opponent Shaun Bailey did not get a good reception in Islington, he may find ground in areas of London who aren’t convinced by calls of more powers and funding for the Mayor.
Hold on tight, it’s going to be a bumpy ride from now ‘til May 2020…