The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan,has announced that three redundant water cannon bought with London taxpayers’ money by Boris Johnson and consigned to storage ever since being bought – more than four years ago – have finally been sold, with funds from the sale to be invested in projects to tackle the root causes of serious violent crime.
Sadiq made a decision to sell the cannon in December 2016, after revealing that the previous Mayor had paid the German Federal Police £85,000 for the machines in June 2014 – without having secured official approval to use them on the streets of the capital.
Costs incurred by the previous Mayor spiralled to an additional £240,000 to bring them up to scratch, which proved a costly mistake as former Home Secretary, Theresa May, refused permission for their use in London in July 2015. Despite the fact they are illegal to use in the UK, it cost more than £322,000 to purchase, fit-out and repair the redundant vehicles.
The water cannon have been on the market since December 2016 and have now been sold to Reclamations (Ollerton) Ltd for £11,025 – all of which will be directed towards vital frontline youth and community services as part of the Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund, which is helping thousands of children and teenagers in the capital by providing much-needed activities lost because of government cuts.
News of the sale comes as the Mayor today announced the biggest round of funding yet from the £45m Young Londoners Fund, which will help children and young people fulfil their potential. Sadiq is today investing £13.2m in 72 projects across the capital, providing almost 42,000 young Londoners with positive life opportunities.
This funding aims to show young people, including those at risk of getting caught up in crime, a positive way forward through a range of education, sport and cultural activities. It is part of the public health approach to fighting violent crime that the Mayor is taking.
Today, the Mayor visited Spotlight in Poplar – one of the 72 new projects to be funded by City Hall. Spotlight provides music, dance, art and theatre programmes for young people aged 11-19 and will use the Young Londoners funding to scale-up their existing successful programmes to other youth hubs in Bow East, Mile End and Bromley South.
The new funding announced today brings the Mayor’s total investment to £20.5m this year in 179 projects benefitting more than 63,000 young people in London alone.
By contrast, the Home Office recently announced 29 projects to receive £17.7m across the whole of England and Wales – a drop in the ocean when compared to the impact of the government’s repeated cuts to vital youth services since 2010. Local authorities have had their youth service budgets cut by almost 50 per cent, resulting in the closure of 81 youth centres and the loss of at least 800 full-time youth workers in the capital.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “For too long, London taxpayers have had to bear the brunt of Boris Johnson’s appalling botched water cannon deal. This has been another waste of taxpayers’ money by Boris Johnson. Londoners continue to live with his vanity. I am pleased we have managed to finally get rid of them and I made an election promise to Londoners that I would claw back as much of this cash as possible, and pump it into helping young people at risk of being affected by crime and giving them better life opportunities.
“By working with communities and giving young Londoners meaningful things to do, I am doing everything I possibly can to help ensure they make the right choices and do not follow the wrong path at such an important time in their lives.
“Huge cuts in national government funding have had a big impact on London youth services and policing, which we should all be in no doubt has contributed to a rise in violent crime. I am leading from the front by supporting the Metropolitan Police and setting up the Violence Reduction Unit to tackle the complex causes of serious violence. However, it is high time that ministers backed up warm words with action and that means reversing the huge savings enforced on the police and properly funding youth and community services.”