Sadiq vows to defend London’s Green Spaces

I spent Wednesday campaigning with Sadiq and the London Assembly Croydon & Sutton candidate, Marina Ahmad, in Sutton.

Sutton is an Outer London, Liberal Democrat led borough that is currently consulting on de-designating a number of its green spaces currently protected as Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land. These are not scrubby bits of land but the designations include recreation grounds, woodlands, Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation, a tennis and country club and parts of the Wandle Valley Regional Park. There are also concerns three allotments sites, a sports fields and a recreation ground may be de-designated.  These sites are:

  • Land West of Wellfield Gardens
  • Land to the West of Beddington Lane A
  • Land to the West of Beddington Lane B
  • Land north of Kimpton Park Way
  • Part of Rosehill Recreation Ground
  • the Tennis Centre at Rosehill Recreation Ground
  • Reigate Avenue Recreation Ground (this is referred to as S94 in the Draft Policy on the Green Belt and MOL but identified as S93 in the Draft Local Plan)
  • Surrey Tennis and Country Club
  • Land at Jessops Way
  • Land North of Bedzed

 

Sadiq’s manifesto is firmly committed to protecting open space. He has a suite of policies strengthening protection for wildlife, sites of nature conservation, biodiversity, Metropolitan Open Land and above all, the Green Belt. Sadiq wants London to be 50% open space; he understands its importance to individual Londoners’ lives and the future of the planet. Fundamentally, this is a very strong environmental manifesto.

Figures from the Campaign to Protect Rural England confirm Sutton’s consultation proposals now brings the total of threatened Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land up to 69.

Today (Friday) Sadiq visited Old Farm Park, a 16 acre open space in Erith, Bexley which the Conservative Council are selling off for development. As he said this morning “Bexley’s plan to sell off precious green space is a disgrace. Local residents are paying the price for having a weak Tory mayor and Tory council”

You can find more details around Sutton’s proposal to de-designate Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land in their Local Plan “Sutton 2031”. The Green Belt policy can be found on page 112

You can find out more about the Old Farm Park campaign here

To join Sadiq on the campaign trail, find upcoming sessions here

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Event tonight: London Greener Under Labour

greener under labour

Join me tonight for an open public meeting, featuring:
Me

Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Seb Dance MEP, Labour’s spokesperson in Europe on Energy and Climate Change

Cllr Feryal Demirci, Hackney Council lead, Neighbourhoods and Sustainability

Green issues are playing more of a part in the campaign to be London mayor than ever before and Labour’s candidate, Sadiq Khan, has committed to being London’s “greenest mayor”: extending the ultra low emissions zone, divesting London pensions funds of fossil fuel investments, encouraging solar and other renewable energy, cleaning up the bus fleet and promoting cycling and electric cars.

At local, city-wide, national and international level, the guests will be discussing what Labour can do to achieve a just transition to a zero carbon world.

At 19.30

Newington Green Unitarian Church, 39A Newington Green, N16 9PR London

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We cannot afford the failures of women’s imprisonment

72% of women in prison have two or more diagnosed mental health problems and 30% of them have a previous psychiatric admission prior to prison.

This raises serious questions about the wisdom of imprisoning so many women.

The brilliant Sara Hyde wrote about the issue for International Women’s Day, and I want to share it with you now: http://labourlist.org/2016/03/we-cannot-afford-the-failures-of-womens-imprisonment/

 

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Prices for first time buyers rocket £148,000 under Boris Johnson

The average first time buyer now pays £148,000 more for a property in the capital than they did when Boris Johnson came to power, according to new analysis from my colleague Tom Copley. The astronomic rise means Londoners seeking to get onto the property ladder now pay 54% more than they would have in May 2008. The figures illustrate that under Boris, owning a property has become a distant dream for many of London’s renters.

The analysis of ONS data showed that in May 2008 the average first time buyer paid £271,000 for their property. By December 2015, the latest data available, the average first time buyer in London paid £419,000, 54% more than when the Mayor first came to power.

In real terms, taking inflation into account, prices for first time buyers have still risen £90,000 above RPI, leaving Londoners paying 27% higher in real terms than in May 2008. The new analysis will be particularly worrying to the 50.5% of Londoners who now rent and may be looking to get onto the property ladder.

Despite pledging to tackle the housing crisis, the Mayor has not once managed to hit his London Plan house building target, now 42,000 homes a year. Over his eight years in City Hall the number of housing completions has never topped the 20,450 built in his first year, with only 18,710 built each year on average over his two mayoral terms.

 

 

Average first time buyer property price
May-08 271,000
Dec-15 419,000
   
Average price increase May 2008 – Dec 2015 148,000
Percentage price increase May 2008 – Dec 2015 54%
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International Womens Day March

I was so proud to join the Care International march yesterday to mark International Women’s Day. Dr Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of suffragette Emmeline, and renowned equal rights activists Annie Lennox and Bianca Jagger led a mass walk through London to walk in solidarity with women and girls worldwide who endure inequality and injustice.

IMG_4117

There are so many who have done so much, yet so much still remains to be done. This is especially true in the developing world, but also in the West and here in the UK. Women in London, for instance, get a raw deal. Childcare is 35 per cent more expensive in London. The gender gap is wider than elsewhere in the UK. Housing is more expensive than the UK average.

The fight continues. That is why I joined the march yesterday, and work everyday as a London Assembly Member to make the city and the world a fairer, better place for women.

IMG_4103

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Just a quarter of Boris Johnson’s new homes on public land ‘affordable’

Last night Channel 4 News revealed Boris Johnson’s miserable record of securing affordable housing on public land.

The piece, which includes an interview with me, shows that despite sweetheart land deals and high level of grant, Boris is failing to make developers provide sufficient levels of affordable housing on his own land.

The Mayor’s own evidence base shows a need for 52 per cent of all new housing to be affordable. But Channel 4’s research found that just one in four homes on GLA land is “affordable”. The figure is far worse when you look at the numbers of genuinely affordable homes at social rents.

This is unacceptable. If Boris fails to secure enough affordable housing on his own land, then what hope is there that he will require developers to do so elsewhere? The Mayor must show much greater leadership on his own land, where he really does control the process.

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Night Tube noise misery for families living near tube tracks

The internal TfL risk assessment for the long awaited Night Tube has revealed residents living near to tube tracks or stations are likely to face significant increases in noise disturbance when the Night Tube is introduced. The risk assessment stated that the nuisance noise could result in a “reduction in quality of life of residents through disturbed sleep” and even “threats of suicide.”

The assessment makes clear that TfL should use the ongoing delay to the Night Tube to ensure that all identified sections of noisy track were repaired ahead of the Night Tube’s eventual start.

Kilburn_tube_by_night

 The official TfL risk assessment, obtained by the Times newspaper last month via a Freedom of Information request, identified a four out of five chance risk that “residents who live close to and above tracks are disturbed at night by noise, vibration and ground bourne noise caused by the train service operations.” The document also found a three out of five chance that those near to stations would also face disruption from station and train announcements throughout the night.

In an admission that will worry residents already facing challenges of noisy tracks during the day TfL states in the document that the Night Tube could well result in insufficient maintenance time on the tracks, as a result an “inability to rail grind on Friday and Saturday nights could lead to poorer rail condition, reliability and noise.”

Respite for residents affected to increased night tube noise looks to be unlikely with TfL also rating the risk it will not be able to handle the increase in complaints as a five out of five risk.

 TfL should use the delayed introduction of the Night Tube to repair all the identified sections of track and should set up a ‘noise-busters’ team to ensure noisy sections of track are quickly identified in future and prioritised for replacement or maintenance.

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