Sadiq promises 40,000 new London council homes  

The target is double that Khan set himself between 2018 and 2024 and which was achieved last year, when it was confirmed that work had started on 23,000 homes…reports Asian Lite News

Sadiq Khan launched his campaign for a record third term as mayor of London by promising the “greatest council homebuilding drive in a generation” and defending his ultra-low emission zone for London.

Appearing at an event in London on Monday, alongside the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, with whom the mayor has had public policy clashes in recent months, Khan promised to complete 40,000 new homes by 2030.

The target is double that Khan set himself between 2018 and 2024 and which was achieved last year, when it was confirmed that work had started on 23,000 homes.

He also defended his controversial his ultra-low emission zone for London under which motorists must pay £12.50 a day to drive a non-compliant car.

“When we first planned to bring it in in central London, there were people who were hostile and anti”, Khan said. “It came in and the sky didn’t collapse. We then expanded it to inner London, lots of complaints and concerns and by the way the Tories have been consistent in opposing it at all levels, the sky didn’t fall in.

“We then expanded it to outer London and here’s the great news – 19 out of 20 cars seen travelling on an average day are compliant… they don’t pay a penny more.”

The housing focus of Khan’s campaign is an acknowledgment of the scale of the problem in the capital, with more than 300,000 households on the waiting list for social housing. Rough sleeping has increased by 50% in the last decade.

Should Khan be re-elected on 2 May, he would be the first person to achieve three terms as mayor since the directly elected position was created in 2000.

Khan claimed that upcoming mayoral contest would be the “closest ever”, although his Conservative rival Susan Hall, a London assembly member, has struggled to build a profile.

According to the Sunday Times, friends of Corbyn, who lost the Labour whip three years ago over his response to an Equality and Human Rights Commission report, recently asked a printing company about the cost of producing election leaflets for him in the constituency of North Islington.

Speaking alongside the London mayor, Starmer said the choice facing the electorate was between “chaos and division with the Tories, or unity and hope with Labour”.

Starmer clashed with Khan last October when the London mayor called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as the Labour leader was demanding a “humanitarian pause” to allow in aid.

The Labour leader had also criticised Khan over his ultra-low emission zone for London, suggesting it would have a disproportionate impact on people “in the middle of the cost of living crisis”.

Despite the past disputes, Starmer claimed that “from more police on the streets, being on the side of Londoners in the cost of living crisis and delivering the most council houses since the 1970s, Sadiq’s achievements as mayor of London over the last eight years have transformed our communities.”

“This is the difference Labour makes when in power,” he said.

Khan, in turn, suggested that it would be in London’s interest for City Hall and Downing Street to be run by Labour, presenting a “once in a generation opportunity to make real inroads into solving London’s housing crisis”.

He claimed he could have gone “much further, much faster” without a Tory government “holding us back”. He said: “We saw it when the last home secretary claimed homelessness is, quote, a lifestyle choice. We saw it last week when the latest housing minister said housing is never really the problem.

“And I’m under no illusion about the scale. The challenge has been decades in the making, but with political will, it can be overcome.”

Meanwhile, a combination of new migration and the return of people who left London during the Covid-19 pandemic has boosted the UK capital’s population, which is “now likely to be well above” its pre-pandemic high of 10.1 million people, a report from Centre for Cities shows.

The think tank notes that London’s population fell during the pandemic, but “bounced back strongly after pandemic restrictions ended and is now almost certainly higher than it has ever been”.

“The population dip during Covid was considerably smaller than the figures in the hundreds of thousands that some predicted,” said Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities.

“The big challenges associated with London remain. London’s infrastructure is creaking under the weight of its population.

“Policymakers have to shake off any assumption that population changes mean questions over the housing shortage and infrastructure will solve themselves. Nor will smaller, less affluent places see huge influxes of professional workers with greater spending power.”

Figures for 2023 have not been calculated yet, but Centre for Cities predicts that with the influx of people in 2022, London’s population has passed its pre-pandemic peak of more than 10.1 million.

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