Former mayor attacks Johnson’s legacy
Boris Johnson has done “bugger all” for London and doesn’t understand the capital’s housing crisis, according to former mayor Ken Livingstone.
Speaking exclusively to London Loves Business, Livingstone criticised Johnson, whose term as London mayor finishes in May, for not building enough homes to rent in the capital.
“The real tragedy of the last eight years is that City Hall’s just been turned into a vehicle for mounting Boris’s prime-ministerial ambition.
“It’s done bugger all for London.”
He said Johnson was not able to understand the problems renters faced finding affordable accommodation or trying to get on to the housing ladder because his parents were extremely wealthy.
“He’s completely neglected the housing crisis. I mean, one of the other changes I got the Labour government to agree to in 2007 was to remove the clause in the mayoral bill, the act of parliament, that said the mayor will have no responsibility for education, housing or social services.
“And the Blair government agreed to drop the housing ban so from the 2008 election, the mayor had powers for housing and I got Gordon Brown to allocate £5bn to start a council house building programme – Boris just didn’t take it up.
“I met Boris just after the Olympic Games and said ‘you’ve got to start building homes for rent’ and he looked so shocked, he just said ‘build homes for rent?’. You just realise all this Bullingdon Club elite, they don’t know what it’s like to have a housing problem because their bloody parents give them one.”
Boris fights back
Johnson rebuffed the assertion he had “done bugger all”.
A spokesman for the Mayor of London told London Loves Business: “Over two terms, the mayor has made London a safer city with murder rates down 50%, has engaged in the biggest transport investment programme in the city’s history and has seen London move out of recession to become the financial capital of the world, accounting for 25% of the UK economy with unemployment at record lows.
He added: “Maximising the delivery of affordable homes to rent and buy in London has been the mayor’s top priority. In accordance with his manifesto pledge, he has now released all City Hall-owned unused land for development and is firmly on track to deliver 100,000 affordable homes across many boroughs, with almost 97,000 already completed.
The mayor denied he had neglected London’s renters, saying he had done more than required to help London tenants.
“His team ensure that affordable rent levels in the capital are an average of 65% of market rent, which is below the top levels set by government and can be covered in full by Housing Benefit,” the spokesman said.
“In the last year there were over 18,000 affordable completions, almost certainly the most in any year in London since 1981 and the equivalent of a new affordable home built every 30 minutes. The mayor is also driving the delivery of new homes for private rent across the capital and has introduced bold policies to help improve the service tenants receive in the rented sector.”
Other key achievements of Boris Johnson, according to his office, include:
- Delivering an Olympic legacy and volunteering legacy that saw London crowned the European capital of volunteering in 2015
- Cutting council tax in real terms by 28%
- Cutting crime overall by almost 19%
- 25% more people riding the tube and more than a 50% cut in delays
- Almost doubling cycling numbers
- Planting 20,000 street trees and about 100,000 trees in total in London
- Creating 2472 new ‘growing spaces’ for entrepreneurs in London
- Extending the tube for the first time in 15 years or more and proceeding with a series of major new infrastructure projects
- Cutting CO2 by 14% and NOX and PMs by 20 and 15%
- Increasing the number of firms paying the Living Wage from 27 firms to 737, and counting
Ken on Sadiq
Meanwhile, Livingstone has publicly thrown his weight behind Labour mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan.
He told us: “I think Sadiq will win.
“One of the reasons I supported him for the Labour nomination is that, not only is he most likely to win, but like me he’s there because he wants to do things, not just promote himself.”