Sadiq launches Air Quality consultation – have your say!

After years of inaction and the threat of EU fines under his predecessor, Boris Johnson, I was delighted to see Sadiq take the swift action he promised in his manifesto on an issue that affects us all – London’s air quality.

The Mayor launched a consultation at Great Ormond Street Hospital on Tuesday as the evidence mounts that not only does poor air quality shorten adult lives – With the equivalent of 9,416 Londoners dying from long-term exposure to air pollution every year – its impact on children’s health both now and in their futures as adults is also increasingly clear, with poor air quality lowering children’s lung capacity for life.

Latest research, buried by Boris Johnson and revealed by Sadiq Khan soon after he took over the Mayoralty revealed over 443 schools in the capital are in areas exceeding safe legal pollution levels.

Sadiq wants to take urgent action to help end London’s ‘public health emergency’ and clean up the capital’s filthy air.

From new charges for the oldest most polluting vehicles, to improved alerts for high-pollution episodes, the Mayor is  asking Londoners for their views on his Clean Air Action plan.

The public have until Friday 29th July 2016 to feed back on the first round of the consultation, further more detailed consultation will take place later this year and some measures could be implemented as early as 2017.

Key proposals include:

  • Implementing a £10 Emissions Surcharge (dubbed the ‘T-charge’) on the most polluting vehicles entering central London from 2017.  The charge would apply to all vehicles with pre-Euro 4 emission standards (broadly speaking those registered before 2005) and will cost an extra £10 per day on top of the existing Congestion Charge.
    • Introducing the central London Ultra-Low Emission Zone one year earlier in 2019
    • Extending the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (‘ULEZ’) beyond central London from 2020: for motorcycles, cars and vans, to the North and South Circular; and for lorries, buses and coaches London-wide
  • Developing a detailed proposal for a national diesel scrappage scheme for Government to implement
  • Bringing forward the requirement for all double–deck buses to be ULEZ-compliant in central London from 2020 to 2019
  • Implementing clean bus corridors – tackling the worst pollution hotspots by delivering cleaner buses on the dirtiest routes

 

The Emissions Surcharge in 2017, followed by an expanded ULEZ in 2020, would be the toughest crackdown on the most polluting vehicles by any major city around the world.

The first consultation will run from 5th July to 29th July 2016. Londoners are being encouraged to take part by completing a survey and participating in online discussions around each of the aforementioned issues.

You can participate in the consultation here

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Brexit: Statement from the Mayor of London

Full statement of the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s statement on the result of the EU Referendum below:

“I believe that Britain is better off within the European Union, but the British people have clearly spoken today, and their democratic will must now be fulfilled.

“I would like to praise David Cameron for the dignified way he has reacted to the message sent by the British people in his words at Downing Street today. I agree with the Prime Minister that Britain can survive and prosper outside the European Union.

“I want to send a clear message to the British people and to businesses and investors around the world this morning – there is no need to panic.

“I still believe that our country is better off within the European Union, but there is no doubt that London will continue to be the successful city it is today. Our city and our country will continue to be the best place in the world to do business. And we will continue to look outwards and trade and engage with the entire world – including the European Union.

“Although we will be outside the EU, it is crucial that we remain part of the single market. Leaving the single market of 500 million people – with its free-trade benefits – would be a mistake. I will be pushing the Government to ensure this is the cornerstone of the negotiations with the EU. It is crucial that London has a voice at the table during those renegotiations, alongside Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“We all have a responsibility to now seek to heal the divisions that have emerged throughout this campaign – and to focus on that which unites us, rather than that which divides us.”

“I want to send a particular message to the almost one million Europeans living in London, who make a huge contribution to our city – working hard, paying taxes and contributing to our civic and cultural life. You are welcome here. We value the enormous contribution you make to our city and that will not change as a result of this referendum.”

 

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Evening Standard – EU referendum: Sadiq Khan in passionate defence of immigration ahead of Brexit Poll

EU referendum: Sadiq Khan in passionate defence of immigration ahead of Brexit poll | Mayor | News |

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Labour’s Rosena Allin – Khan holds Tooting in by election. Guardian article.

Labour’s Rosena Allin-Khan holds Tooting in by election

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Harriet Harman and why women in Britain are better off in Europe

Dear Nicky,

Last month, we set out why women in Britain are better off in Europe. The EU has been a powerful force for driving gender equality and empowering women, but our hard won rights and protections would be at risk if the UK were to leave the European Union. You can read our full article on LabourList here.

With just over a week until the UK goes to the polls it is crucial that we speak to as many women as possible about what Europe means for women- on jobs, pay and rights at work. We can’t trust the Tories to uphold and protect women’s rights.

Will you join us by pledging to help speak to women voters?

Here’s how you can get involved:

This will be vital for the campaign. Thank you.

Harriet Harman MP
Kate Green MP

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Bianca Jagger for Remain

I was delighted to see an excellent contribution for the case to remain from Bianca Jagger on the Huffington Post:

“The EU Referendum Will Determine Our Future

Britain and the referendum

Great Britain is my adopted home. I have deep affection for this nation — for its people, for its great tradition of liberalism, its commitment to justice and human rights. For its art, literature, theatre, music and film, its long record of ground-breaking scientific discoveries, its beautiful countryside, its National Health Service… I could go on.

The EU referendum on June 23 will be one of the most significant decisions British citizens will ever have to make. The outcome will affect how the UK is governed, national security, the economy, human rights, the environment, culture… every aspect of our lives. It will define what it means to be British and could alter this country’s relationship with the world for generations to come.

Rhetoric of the “Leave Campaign”

I watched in disbelief as some British leaders resorted to racist rhetoric in the lead-up to the referendum. Boris Johnson made a notorious comment about the EU in his interview with the Telegraph: “Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically… The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods.” Mr Johnson should remember “Godwin’s Law,” which states that in any argument, the first person to mention the Nazis is deemed the loser. Both the leave and remain campaigns have descended to fear-mongering but Boris Johnson has arguably stooped the lowest, by comparing the EU to Nazi Germany. I say “arguably” because he has some tough competition.

A recent poster for the “Leave” campaign, released on the eve of an England v. Turkey football match, shrieked: “Turkey (population 76 million) is joining the EU,” warning Britain of an invasion of murderous, kidnapping, gunrunning Turks. Another depicts an EU passport as an open door, with footprints leading through it, and the caption, “Turkey (population 76 million) is joining the EU. Vote Leave, take back control.” Never mind that this is factually untrue — as Polly Toynbee’s excellent article in the Guardian, which can be read here, explains. This has, increasingly, been the failsafe tactic of the “leave” campaign — xenophobic attempts to persuade British citizens that there is a marauding army of Eastern European and Turkish criminals poised to descend upon the UK. The question of the EU has brought out great passion on both sides of the argument — it has also exposed the latent prejudice at the heart of the “Leave” campaign.

Some of the leaders of the “Leave” campaign seem to have forgotten their history: the purpose and achievements of the European Union. Winston Churchill spoke in 1946 after the Second World War, of the need for a united Europe, “under which it can dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom.” The European Union was formed to preserve that peace and the EU has been largely responsible for keeping it, ever since. The leaders of the “Leave” campaign seem to have forgotten that the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012, for its contribution to “over six decades… of the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.” The Nobel committee president Thorbjoern Jagland said, the EU has played a critical role in transforming a European “continent of war” into a “continent of peace.”

War in Europe — Remembering Srebrenica

I do not take “peace, safety and freedom” in Europe for granted.

In 1993 I travelled to the former Yugoslavia to document the mass rape of Bosnian women by Serbian forces, as part of their campaign of ethnic cleansing. Between 1992 and 1995 Bosnian Serb troops cut a bloody swathe through the Bosnian Muslim population, to the cost of over a hundred thousand civilian lives. Over two million people were forced to flee their homes. The war culminated in the genocide at Srebrenica on 11th July 1995, where 8,373 Bosnian Muslims — civilians, women, children and virtually the entire male population – were systematically slaughtered by Bosnian Serb troops in cold blood during four days of carnage. It was the worst massacre on European soil since the Third Reich. The war did not involve any EU member states.

When issuing the indictment against General Ratko Mladic at the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Judge Fouad Riad described “scenes of unimaginable savagery, thousands of men executed and buried in mass graves, hundreds of men buried alive, men and women mutilated and slaughtered, children killed before their mothers’ eyes, a grandfather forced to eat the liver of his own grandson. These are truly scenes from Hell, written on the darkest pages of human history.”

For those of who have lived in peace in the EU for so long, such ‘scenes from Hell’ are unimaginable. We must not forget that the EU is more than an economic entity. It is a vital peacekeeping force in Europe.

 

EU Unity, Diversity

I was born in Managua, Nicaragua and educated in France — I have dual nationality, and I choose to live in the UK. My daughter was born in Paris, my granddaughters, my little grandson and great granddaughter were all born in the UK.

In the past, the UK’s outlook seemed to me to incorporate the best parts of the European Union’s ethos of inclusion, solidarity and diversity. The EU anthem, from Beethoven’s 9th symphony, has no words, to show that no one language has precedence. The stars on the flag are arranged in a circle to show that there is no hierarchy between countries. The EU motto is “United in diversity.”

We all know that the EU is not a perfect institution, but to abandon it in favour of a policy of isolationism would be to throw the baby out with the bathwater, as the saying goes. Britain draws great strength from its relationship with Europe. To cut ourselves adrift from this common heritage with the EU, our economic, political and cultural ally, would weaken Britain and its place in the world. I am deeply troubled by about the possibility of Britain’s leaving the European Union.

Human Rights

As someone who has dedicated their life to defending human rights, peace and civil liberties, I welcome the EU as a progressive force, holding countries to high, common standards for human rights. Abolition of the death penalty is a pre-condition for entry into the Union and the EU is the leading institutional actor and largest donor to the worldwide fight against the death penalty. It maintains close tieswith the Council of Europe, which has made worldwide abolition of capital punishment one of its governing objectives, and is dedicated to promoting democracy, rule of law, human rights and economic development in the EU. I have been Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador for the Abolition of the Death Penalty since 2003.

The EU has enshrined in law important protections for women’s rights, LGBTI rights and workers rights. All EU member states are required to fulfill the “Copenhagen Criteria” as a prerequisite: members must be ‘stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities.’

We are at a critical juncture in the history of women’s rights. There is an important proposal currently making its way through the EU Parliament, for EU-wide ratification of the Istanbul Convention of the Council of Europe, the most comprehensive International Treaty on combating violence against women and girls. Twelve EU countries have already ratified the Convention, thirteen have signed, but not ratified it. The UK signed the Convention on the 8th of June 2012 but has not yet ratified it. I urge Prime Minister David Cameron to make ratification of the Istanbul Convention an urgent priority.

The EU has a number of other pioneering pieces of legislation such as the European Protection Order by which survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence who are granted legal protection such as a restraining order in one EU country are entitled to the same legal protection if they move to another EU country. The EU also guarantees equal rights to a pension. Women are often excluded from company pension schemes because they work part time and take breaks to have children. “EU law now prevents discrimination and guarantees equal rights for all social security benefits.” EU law requires that a woman’s job be held open so she can return to work without loss of status or pay. This is progress from the days when women were routinely sacked for becoming pregnant – this still took place in the UK until the late 1970’s — but we are not progressing fast enough in the UK or anywhere else on creating gender equality. We have not even achieved the minimum standard of equal pay for women in most countries. I believe that these EU legislative protections for women are of paramount importance.

Environmental protection

Climate change is the greatest threat we face in our time. I have participated at the United Nations climate change conferences since 2007, in my role as Founder, President and Chief Executive of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation. The European Union has often been the voice of reason in those fraught international negotiations. The EU has some of the most ambitious targets in the world on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change. The EU “Climate and Energy Framework” pledges a reduction of at least 40% in greenhouse gas emissions relative to 1990 levels, at least 27% share for renewable energy, and at least 27% improvement in energy efficiency — all by 2030.

As for environmental protection, the EU’s Natura 2000 program is the largest coordinated network of conservation areas in the world, covering 18 % of the land area and 6% of its marine territory, offering protection to Europe’s most valuable and threatened biodiversity.

The UK government’s environmental track record is far from perfect. Prime Minister David Cameron has unreservedly endorsed fracking. Last year ten conservation groups including the National Trust, GreenPeace and the RSPB expressed their concern at the dangerous ‘watering down’ of the UK’s environmental policies. I fear that if Great Britain were to leave Europe, we could be left to the tender mercies of the UK government.

A Rich Cultural Tapestry

The creative industries in Britain thrive on a relationship with Europe. Last week I went to Glyndebourne to see Il Barbiere Di Siviglia, or the Barber of Seville. The production was sparkling, witty, hilarious. The opera was directed by a British woman and conducted by a Spanish man, sung by Italian and German baritones, as well as an American tenor and an Australian-American soprano. According to a letter signed by 282 leading figures from film, music, theatre, literature, dance, design, the arts, and fashion, including Sir Tom Stoppard, Tracey Emin, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Wolfgang Tillmans, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Sir Patrick Stewart, Sir Anish Kapoor, Benedict Cumberbatch, John le Carré, Dame Kristin Scott Thomas, Steve McQueen and Dame Vivienne Westwood among many others, the British arts are stronger within a united European Union. It is a fact that EU funding has been critical in helping the UK film industry flourish- the Creative Europe programme provided critical seed money for Oscar winning films British films such as The King’s Speech, The Iron Lady and Slumdog Millionaire. But perhaps even more significant than money, says the letter, is the creative exchange between countries – the collaborative, artistic endeavours that being part of a European community makes possible.

Britain’s relationship with the EU is equally critical to the sciences, according to a letter to the Times signed by more than 150 fellows of the Royal Society. Steven Hawking calls the Brexit ‘a disaster for UK science… Being able to attract and fund the most talented Europeans assures the future of British science and also encourages the best scientists elsewhere to come here…’ The UK holds a preeminent place in the world of the arts and sciences, and this could be jeopardized by leaving Europe.

103 universities have also come out in favour of the ‘Remain’ campaign, including Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, UCL and Edinburgh. “While no one is suggesting that UK universities could not survive outside the EU,” they write, “leaving would mean cutting ourselves off from established networks and would undermine the UK’s position as a global leader in science and the arts.”

Britons abroad

Europe is currently open to young British people from all walks of life. In one of the worst economic climates in living memory, the ability to travel and work in Europe has been a lifeline for them. It is no surprise that at a student debate in Leeds in February, 298 of the 300 students present wanted Britain to stay in the EU. Their generation has grown up with the economic and cultural advantages of being part of Europe. They cannot imagine anything else. As well as work, young people can travel to see galleries, architecture, theatre, beautiful landscapes, and great cathedrals all across the continent. I hope that future generations will be not denied this opportunity.

Those who complain about the influx of European migrants and refugees also forget that it goes both ways — there are 1.4 million Britons currently living in Europe. Their lives would be seriously impacted in a number of ways, including recall to the UK, increased taxes in their EU country of residence, or the withdrawal of benefits such as healthcare. After the Brexit, no more Britons could relocate to an EU country with such ease.

Conclusion

I was very moved by the photographer Wolfgang Tillmans beautiful posters urging Britain to stay in the EU. It is true that I am politically aligned with Tillmans on this issue – but the fact remains that these images provide a strong contrast to the racist rhetoric of the “Leave” campaign. ‘No man is an island. No country by itself.’ says the simply printed text, superimposed on a stark aerial view of the UK coastline. Another, showing a softly blurred image of a vivid blue horizon, says, “What is lost is lost forever.” Tillman’s posters are not part of an official campaign — he made them on his own initiative, with the help of his London and Berlin studio assistants. They are a passionate personal plea, from an artist who believes that the EU is ‘the largest peace project in human history.’

I fervently believe that the UK must remain in the EU if it is committed to being part of a better, more peaceful, more just, more diverse, more tolerant, more economically secure world. I also believe that to leave the EU is to slip backwards, perhaps irrevocably, into isolationism and xenophobia – all in the name of misplaced self-interest and fear. Winston Churchill said in 1963 that ‘The future of Europe if Britain were to be excluded is black indeed.” I believe that our future, were the UK to leave the EU, would be equally black.”

 

In May 2016, our first meeting following the Mayoral election, the Assembly passed the following motion in support of the UK’s continued membership of the EU:

“This Assembly supports the United Kingdom’s continued membership of the European Union and, in particular, the economic, workplace, security, and environmental benefits this brings to the people of London.

 

“This Assembly notes the advantages of remaining within the European Union in the following areas:

 

Economic benefits to London of EU membership

 

Trade: The EU’s single market is London’s most important trade relationship – responsible for 30-40% of the capital’s total exports; being part of the single market supports London’s status as an international economic hub; and 40% of the world’s largest 250 companies choose London for their headquarters, with almost half citing access to Europe as the core reason for investing[1].

Business: The Confederation of British Industry reports that “71% of CBI member businesses report that the UK’s membership of the EU has had an overall positive impact on their business, including 67% of SME members.”[2]

Immigration: Despite the scaremongering and inflammatory rhetoric[3] surrounding EU migration, European migrants to the UK are not a drain on Britain’s finances and, instead, pay £20bn more in taxes than they receive in state benefits[4].

 

Social benefits to London of EU membership:

 

Maternity Rights: The EU Pregnant Workers Directive (1994) introduced a right to paid time off for ante-natal care; got rid of the qualifying period for unfair dismissal in pregnancy and maternity cases; and gave women the right to a suitable alternative job if they were made redundant while on maternity leave[5].

Protection against working excessive hours: Working time protections have been targeted by leading ‘Brexit’ campaigners, who claim they are red-tape that should be scrapped[6][7]. In fact, the EU Working Time Directive’s rules have deterred many bosses from forcing London’s workers into an average working week of longer than 48 hours. Since its introduction, over a million workers across the UK are no longer compelled to work excessive hours.[8]

Minimum workplace protections: Improvement of working conditions; freedom of association and collective bargaining; equal treatment for men and women; information, consultation and participation of workers; health protection and safety at the workplace; and protection of children, adolescents, elderly persons, and disabled persons from labour market exploitation are provided as minimum protections for workers in all Member States[9]. Withdrawal from the EU threatens these protections for workers in the London, as U.K Governments would no longer be required to provide them.

 

Security benefits to London of EU membership

 

Extradition: The European Arrest Warrant allows the UK to extradite individuals from other member states to face prosecution or to serve a prison sentence for an existing conviction. In the period 2011-2015 the Met made 1,735 arrests under the EAW. It is because of this that Hussein Osman, a terrorist involved in the failed 21/7 London bomb plot, was sentenced to 40 years in prison after being returned to Britain from Italy.[10]

Cross Border Crime: Britain’s membership of the EU allows the Metropolitan Police to engage in extensive police co-operation through Europol. This has helped combat the trafficking of drugs and human beings as well as cyber-crime and money laundering.[11]

Information Sharing: Although part of the Schengen information sharing area, the UK is not part of the Schengen passport free area. Security controls remain in place at UK borders and the UK can return migrants to the European country they first arrived to be processed. Under the Schengen Information System 11, it is possible to issue Europe-wide alerts for missing people and property.[12]

 

Environmental benefits to London of EU membership

 

Air Quality: The EU Air Quality Directive has compelled the Mayor of London to look at policy measures such as the Ultra-Low Emission Zone. Without the pressure of directives such as these, the Mayor and UK Government would have a reduced obligation to tackle London’s toxic air. Boris Johnson’s apparent suppression of a report – while Mayor of London – linking air pollution and deprived schools[13], provides the strongest possible insight in to likely impact on pollution in the capital following a vote to leave the EU.

The Thames: European regulations on sewage discharges have provided a major impetus for action to clean up the Thames. The Thames was declared “biologically dead” in the 1950s. Its modern renaissance with the return of fish and mammals has been in no small part down to the impact of EU law[14]. Leaving the EU would put that progress at risk.

Climate Change: Four-fifths of the environmental legislation now in force in the UK derives from EU law.[15] Leaving the EU would seriously inhibit our ability to work co-operatively with our neighbours on issues that transcend borders, such as the existential threat of climate change. As London is a climate estuarial city, reducing the UK’s influence over the global response to climate change represents a direct threat to the long-term viability of the capital.

 

“While far superior to the isolationist alternative offered by those campaigning for ‘Brexit’, this Assembly does not view the current European Union a ‘finished product’. Rather, the EU is an evolving institution, which is a product of those nations that actively participate in it.

 

“This Assembly wishes to see a reformed European Union, which is more democratically accountable, as part of a drive towards a ‘Social Europe’ – characterised by greater prosperity, high living standards, and good working conditions for all.

 

“This Assembly believes Londoners should reject the shallow, populist rhetoric of those encouraging Londoners to vote for ‘Brexit’, and encourages the people of London to vote for the United Kingdom to remain part of the European Union.”

 

 

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Zac Goldsmith received £46,000 linked to luxury flat developers

The outgoing Mayor has bent over backwards to wave this luxury development through. With a net loss of over 4000 jobs in central London and not one affordable home, Londoners are once again losing out. This looks like a gift to the developers.

See this article in The Guardian:

Zac Goldsmith received £46,000 linked to luxury flat developers

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