We asked the leading London Mayoral Candidates if they would write a blog post for older Londoners. Here we have the second piece, from Luisa Porritt, the Liberal Democrat candidate.
I very much welcome the Age UK London manifesto and endorse fully its recommendations.
Of course some of its policies and aspirations involve partnership working with London Boroughs and other organisations, but that is a challenge a Mayor of London should not hesitate to rise to.
I especially welcome how very inclusive the Age UK London manifesto is, recognising for example the specific needs of LGBT+ Londoners and people that do not have children as well as recognising how the Covid pandemic has often hit hardest older Londoners with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. It is a manifesto for all older people.
While welcoming and supporting your manifesto I would like to stress some very specific commitments which it mentions:
- The 60+ Oyster photocard must be maintained and the suspension on temporary travel of this photocard and Freedom Pass must lifted. It is a petty and unnecessary restriction that the Conservative Government and the current Mayor agreed to last year. There is no evidence that the changes were necessary last year, let alone now. The only evidence that exists is the inconvenience it has created.
- TfL in particular needs to get far better in consulting with older and disabled people. The report Pave the Way by the disability organisation Transport for All powerfully highlights the changes that are so necessary. Better consultation processes and proper equality impact assessments over key policy changes are not a luxury, but vital to ensuring a better London.
- Much bolder plans are also needed to make travelling around London more accessible. It is deeply concerning that step free schemes are progressing so slowly and that TfL does not even have step free access schemes at London Underground stations planned beyond 2022. In the last year TfL also withdrew cash payments at most London Underground ticket machines without any prior consultation as well as ending physical assistance for disabled people. This arrogance and overlooking of the needs of so many people needs to end.
I would also like to stress how some of my key commitments have a specific perspective for older people.
While asthma and other respiratory conditions can affect people of all ages we should recognise that air pollution especially affects many older people, especially those with long standing health conditions. The lack of progress in tackling air pollution cannot continue. Ensuring our buses become zero emission, running either on electricity on hydrogen within a few years, will significantly reduce air pollution.
The issue of loneliness is also real issue in London and Covid has magnified the problem. We need to ensure all of our high streets become vibrant and welcoming spaces, where people can shop, meet with each other and easily access key local services. Our high streets should be places where people want to visit and spend time, not pass through as quickly as possible.
We also need to increase the supply of homes and in particular homes that meet basic access needs. I am committed to a London Housing Company being created, with one of its remits being converting unused office space into decent and affordable housing.
Enjoying clean air and being able to live in safe and accessible housing are vital. As is the ability to travel around the capital without the barriers that currently exist. Ensuring everyone can enjoy London’s high streets and open spaces is vital for London’s economic recovery, but also the mental health of us all. These are my commitments to you.