Shaun Bailey: My ten point plan for London

25 Feb

Shaun Bailey is a member of the London Assembly and the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London.

London is the greatest city on earth. From our free museums to our world-leading financial sector, our community groups to our fashion industry, Londoners lead the world — and help drive the UK’s economy.

But that doesn’t mean everything in our city is perfect. We face serious problems, and the pandemic has exposed how deep those problems run.  Over the last five years, ordinary Londoners have started to feel like our city just isn’t working for them. Knife crime has hit record highs. Good homes are unaffordable. Our transport network is struggling to cope. And the cost of living keeps rising.

None of this is inevitable. When we Conservatives last ran City Hall, we built a city with falling crime and rising investment. So I know we can build this city again. But that means we need a Mayor who can deliver it — and it’s clear that Sadiq Khan just isn’t up to the job.

London needs a fresh start. And I’ve got a plan to deliver it.

I’ll make our streets safer by hiring 8,000 more police officers and reopening the 38 police stations that Sadiq Khan shut to the public. As a former youth worker, I understand how important a local police presence is to residents and communities. So I’ll ensure there are a record number of police on the streets – helping to protect and support Londoners.

I’ll help young people get out of crime with 32 new youth centres and 4,000 new youth workers. After five years of rising violent crime under Sadiq Khan, it’s clear that a fresh approach is needed. From my twenty years as a youth worker, I know first-hand how youth services can turn young lives around. So I’ll open a YouthZone in every borough and fund an army of youth workers to create greater opportunities for the most at-risk young Londoners.

I’ll help young Londoners get on the housing ladder by building 100,000 homes and selling them for £100,000 each, with deposits as low as £5,000. Home ownership is out of reach for many Londoners as house prices have risen faster than wages. But through shared ownership, first-time buyers will be able to purchase a portion of a home, with a mortgage, and pay a subsidised rent on the remaining portion. This will give more young Londoners the chance to buy their own home.

I’ll clean up London’s air without taxing Londoners more and whilst supporting our transport industry. I’ll do this by converting London’s bus fleet to zero-emission, which will be the equivalent of taking one million cars off London’s roads. And I’ll offer interest-free loans to provide the financial support for all black cab drivers to be electric by the end of my first term.

I’ll fix TfL’s finances by introducing corporate sponsorship to the tube network, to protect free travel for under-18s and over-60s. TfL has now been bailed out multiple times by the taxpayer – and enough is enough. Corporate sponsorship could raise up to £500 million for TfL – it’s the fresh approach we need to restore TfL’s finances once and for all.

I’ll create a bigger, better transport network with a London Infrastructure Bank that will fund Hammersmith Bridge repairs, tube upgrades and Crossrail 2. The London Infrastructure Bank will facilitate private sector investment on a large scale by securing finance for infrastructure projects. This is how we’ll get our city moving.

I’ll reverse Sadiq Khan’s congestion charge hike and scrap his plans to extend the £12.50 daily ULEZ charge to outer London. In the middle of a pandemic, we should support those who will power London’s recovery — not punish them with higher taxes.

I’ll save every London household £307 by reversing Sadiq Khan’s 10 per cent council tax hike. By the time Sadiq Khan’s term ends, he will have raised his share of council tax by 30 per cent. At a time when many are struggling to make ends meet, the Mayor should be doing everything he can to support them — not raising their cost of living.

I’ll stand up for outer boroughs by scrapping Sadiq Khan’s plans to charge people £5.50 to drive into Outer London and by providing 30 minutes free parking in outer boroughs. This Outer London Tax will hurt people who travel a few miles for their weekly shop. It will hurt friends and family who want to visit. It will hurt businesses that depend on driving into London every day. And it will hurt parents who drive their kids to school.

I’ll work constructively with Ministers to get a better deal for London and I will always take responsibility for London’s problems. The last few years have shown that a Mayor obsessed with good PR and scoring political points will fail when the time comes to step up.  As Mayor of London, I’ll work with government ministers to find solutions for the challenges that lie ahead.

This is my plan to give London a fresh start. And through investment in housing, transport and infrastructure, it will help to create 924,000 jobs over five years.

The only thing standing in the way is Sadiq Khan. So on 6th of May, vote for the safer, fairer and more affordable city that you know Londoners deserve.

Shaun Bailey: Let us remember the sacrifices made from across the Commonwealth, for our freedom

9 Nov

Shaun Bailey is a member of the London Assembly and the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London.

Everything about Remembrance Sunday was a little bit different this year. Crowds were smaller. Events were socially distanced. The trials of the last few months hovered at the back of our minds.

But that doesn’t mean the day itself was any less meaningful. In fact, when the country fell silent and the bells started to toll, I believe there was an even greater depth of emotion. It was a chance to remind ourselves that the sacrifices we’re making — staying at home, protecting the NHS, not seeing friends and family — are large by themselves, but nothing compared to the sacrifices our grandparents and great-grandparents made. Nothing, in fact, compared to the sacrifices our soldiers make every day.

After all, what we’re going through now is not a new normal for our men and women in uniform: it’s the old normal. On any given year, they have to go months without seeing their families. They suspend their lives for a cause bigger than any one person. They tragically lose friends and colleagues. And despite everything, they pull together, look out for one another, and emerge victorious. They set an example for all of us as we deal with coronavirus and lockdown.

They also show us the kind of country we are. Britain today is multiethnic, multiracial, varied in every possible way. And that has always been represented in our army, which throughout history has been made up of people from different races, religions and backgrounds; from the UK and from the Commonwealth. What unites our soldiers is their belief in Britain — their selfless determination to defend our country and protect our freedoms.

My grandad is one of the soldiers I thought about yesterday. Born and raised in Jamaica, he went on to fight for Britain in the Second World War. He’s the reason I’m here today. His belief that Britain was a country worth fighting for, worth giving up your life for if necessary, helped to shape my views from a very young age.

He also inspired my mum to sign me up for the Army Cadets, a decision that changed my life. I went from being a difficult kid to being a disciplined kid. The Army Cadets taught me that expectations are important, that you should never worry about failing as long as you get back up and give it another shot. The Army Cadets continue to play a huge role in my life — and it’s all thanks to the example my grandad set.

Not that my grandad’s story is unique. It’s the story of countless Commonwealth soldiers. The Sikhs and Muslims who fought heroically for Britain in the First and Second World Wars. The Hindus who served in the Burma Campaign. The countless Africans and Caribbeans commemorated at the African and Caribbean War Memorial in Brixton. These are some of the many people I paid tribute to on Sunday.

And many of those same Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, Africans, and Caribbeans made the bold decision to uproot their lives and move to our country — just like my family did. Without a doubt, we are better off as a result of their decisions, and not just economically. Commonwealth citizens enriched our culture and, as we’ve seen over the last few months, they’re still on the frontlines today, saving lives by battling coronavirus.

Look at the British Asian entrepreneurs helping to keep London’s high streets alive. Look at their influence on our culture — from curry houses to our language itself. Look at the massive contribution made to London’s hospitals by Africans and Caribbeans every day — including my mum, who works for the NHS. This is modern Britain. And it proves that the Commonwealth isn’t just an organisation we’re part of; the Commonwealth is who we are.

That’s something to be grateful for, and not just on Remembrance Sunday. The fact that we are a nation of all colours and religions, all races and backgrounds; a nation that can come together as one to defeat our enemies, whether they appear in jackboots or in the form of a virus.

It’s also a lesson in working together. We know that coronavirus has caused mental health issues for people across the country. We know that lockdown will be tough. But we also know we can get through it — if we get through it together.

So whatever you’re doing and wherever you are, I hope you found renewed meaning in the Remembrance events yesterday. In these difficult times, ‘lest we forget’ is a more powerful message than ever.

Shaun Bailey: The Mayor of London should build up opportunity – rather than knock down statues

22 Oct

Shaun Bailey is a member of the London Assembly and the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London.

For better or for worse, the place you grow up in shapes the kind of person you become. When I look back on my childhood years, spent in a council house in Ladbroke Grove, I can see that the very best and the very worst of London were right there on my doorstep. And I can see how that shaped me and my friends.

At the time, Ladbroke Grove was a working-class community with a big racial mix. Between Moroccans and Poles, Irish and Nigerians, we looked like a Dulux colour palette of races; but there was very little racial tension. We were a real community, friendly with neighbours, helpful to those in need. There’s no doubt that these were some of the best aspects of London: multiracial, inclusive and welcoming.

But things changed as I got older. I don’t really know why. Maybe I just started to notice the other side of things. But whatever it was, crime and drugs became real problems. Gangs formed and started feuding. Houses were broken into. Cars were stolen. Friends got caught up in dealing.

This was the worst of London. Kids who couldn’t see a way up or a way out. Parents struggling to make ends meet. An area that was being left behind, forced to deal with problems by itself. Physically, we were only two and a half miles from South Kensington; but our realities were separated by much more than distance. And this is something we still see today in London.

It’s a reminder that one of London’s strengths is our diversity, the people of all backgrounds and nationalities who call this city home. But one of London’s biggest problems is rising crime on our streets. And we all know what crime does. It leaves innocent victims frightened, it drives communities apart, and it wastes the potential of every kid who gets caught in the vicious cycle.

I’ve seen it with my own eyes. At least twelve of my immediate peer group ended up in prison. And I’m pretty sure those kids would never have turned to crime if they’d grown up in better circumstances. So I was lucky to have my mum around. She kept me busy and on the right path. And she helped me to see that those kids often had the same potential I had: they just didn’t have anyone to help them make the most of it.

That’s why I decided to become a youth worker. I wanted to help bring out the potential of young people from areas like mine. When I ask myself how Ladbroke Grove shaped me, I can honestly say that the place where I grew up inspired me to do good. But more often than not, growing up in an area full of crime leads to a life full of crime.

So we need to do better. We need to build a city that’s safer, fairer, and more affordable. A city that our children deserve to inherit. But that means we need a Mayor who will deliver it. And it’s clear that Sadiq Khan won’t. Knife crime has reached historic highs. Good homes are unaffordable. Transport is overcrowded. The cost of living keeps rising. And Sadiq Khan blames everyone but himself. In fact, the only policies he’s announced in the last few months are an increased congestion charge, a plan to defund the police by £110 million, and a commission to decide which statues to tear down.

I can’t see how any of these proposals will help to build a better city. The congestion charge increase makes life more expensive for everyone: from businesses who need to get around to families who are now taxed for going to church. The plan to defund London’s police will make officers’ jobs that much harder — if they even manage to survive the cuts.

And it’s more obvious than ever that Sadiq Khan’s statue commission is a big mistake. During Black History Month, we should remember to think about the future as well as the past. And the future looks difficult for too many black Londoners. Young black men in London are half as likely to be employed as young white men. There are more FTSE 100 CEOs called Steve than CEOs who are black. How will tearing down statues fix these problems?

Our responsibility is to build a better future, not destroy our past. And that will be my priority as Mayor. Hiring 8,000 more police to make our streets safer. Working with the Met to improve relations between officers and the communities they serve. Reversing Sadiq Khan’s congestion charge hike on day one. And introducing a mentoring programme for Londoners from deprived communities, so they get expert advice on how to achieve their goals.

The only thing standing in the way is Sadiq Khan. So next May, I’m counting on ConHome readers get out and vote for the city they know Londoners deserve. Together, we can build a safer, fairer and more affordable city. Together, we can shorten the journey from Ladbroke Grove to South Kensington.

Shaun Bailey: We can’t let London grind to a halt

23 Sep

Shaun Bailey is a member of the London Assembly and the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London.

Remember the days when London’s transport network led the world? It wasn’t that long ago. Look back to before Sadiq Khan and you see what we used to be capable of. When Boris Johnson was the Mayor of London, we signed off Crossrail 1. We started planning Crossrail 2. We got Boris bikes. We rolled the Overground out to more areas than ever. And we had a congestion charge that raised money without being extreme.

How times have changed. Now we’ve got a Mayor who spent four years managing Transport for London so inefficiently that he had to be bailed out by the government. He let TfL debt rise to a historic £13 billion. He hiked the congestion charge to £15 and extended it to seven days a week. He came into office with Crossrail on time and on budget, but managed to delay it and increase its cost. And he has allowed countless bridges to close, turning journeys across the river into Homeric odysseys, as our former Mayor might have said. These days the only way our transport system leads the world is in headlines about how London’s bridges are falling down.

It’s incredibly disappointing. Forget about the rest of the world — our transport system is what makes this city possible. It’s how businesses get around but it’s also how we see family and friends. That’s why I believe Londoners have the right to an efficient transport system. And I believe it’s the Mayor’s responsibility to deliver it. So I can’t understand why Sadiq Khan has let our transport network fall into its current state.

I don’t buy the narrative that failure is inevitable. After all, it’s not like we’ve seen these transport failures in other parts of the country. Far from it. Conservative mayors like Andy Street and Ben Houchen are setting a great example for London, something our Mayor should take note of.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, is pioneering a Metro system and opening new stations in Coventry and Wolverhampton. Ben Houchen, the Mayor of the Tees Valley, saved the local airport from closure and helped bring new investment into the region. They are doing exactly what Conservative mayors always do: working with business and government to deliver improvements in people’s lives.

Recently, Greg Hands and I had to take some of Khan’s job description into our own hands. When Hammersmith Bridge was closed yet again, Khan refused to take responsibility yet again. But the consequences were too great for us to ignore. Residents faced three-hour bus rides just to get across the river. Emergency services struggled to respond to call-outs. Businesses were reporting that trade was down between 30 per cent and 40 per cent.

So together, Greg and I asked the government to intervene and take over Hammersmith Bridge. And we are hugely grateful that the government listened. Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, bailed out Sadiq Khan by taking over the bridge and funding the repairs.

But even though Grant Shapps did the right thing, it should never have come to this. As the Mayor of London, I’ll make it my priority to get TfL’s finances back in order. I’ll cut waste, end inflated executive pay, and provide the leadership TfL needs. That way, Londoners will have a transport network fit for a global city — and we can start to lead the world once again.