We asked the leading London Mayoral Candidates if they would write a blog post for older Londoners. Here we have the third piece from Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate.
It is crucial that we have a city that works for everyone, including older Londoners who have experienced our city’s history and can guide us towards the future. My grandfather was a Windrush immigrant who fought for Britain in the Second World War. His grandson is the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London. This story is only possible in London.
London is the greatest city on earth. But we face big problems — and the pandemic exposed how deep those problems run. Knife crime is at a historic high. Good homes are unaffordable. Investment in our transport network has dried up. The cost of living keeps rising. And the Mayor of London won’t take responsibility for any of it.
Older Londoners are business owners, grandparents, police officers, and NHS and care workers. They are our family, our neighbours, and the backbone of our community. For London to recover, we can’t go back to how we were before. We need a fresh start. And that means new leadership in City Hall. Safe streets and a functioning transport network are not a luxury; they are a necessity and they are the responsibility of the mayor. That’s why as mayor, my priority will be improving public safety and fixing and funding TfL.
In 2020, London was less safe than in 2016, when the current mayor came to power. Robbery was up 86% by March 2020 compared to 2016. Knife crime was up 60% over the same period. Our grandparents can’t walk London’s streets safely because Sadiq Khan is more concerned with press officers than police officers.
This has got to change, and as a former youth worker I understand that you need to address both public safety and the root causes of crime. I have lived through the problems that so many Londoners face, and spent twenty years as a youth worker helping Londoners have a fresh start.
That’s why I will make our streets safer by hiring 8,000 more police officers and reopening 38 police stations. In addition to stopping crime, I will nip future crime in the bud by building 32 new youth centers and hiring 4,000 new youth workers.
In the middle of a pandemic, Londoners need support from their mayor. But since the coronavirus hit, Sadiq Khan has continued to hammer Londoners, raising the cost of living to make up for his own financial mismanagement, and making London inaccessible for so many.
Sadiq Khan raised the congestion charge to £15 a day, seven days a week and is extending ULEZ to the North and South Circular roads. The fact that before the pandemic nearly 200,000 older Londoners could go for up to a month without being visited or visiting a friend or family member is unacceptable.
I will scrap Sadiq Khan’s expanded Congestion Charge Zone and Ultra Low Emission Zone without hesitation. Many older people rely on cars and blue badges to visit friends and family. I will commit to making it easier for older people to move around London by reversing Sadiq Khan’s road taxes and most importantly exempting blue badge holders from ULEZ and any future road taxes.
I am also committed to fixing Transport for London’s finances — to protect services and deliver a better transport for all Londoners. London’s transport network is the fuel for our city. It’s how businesses get around. It’s how we visit friends, family, and care for our loved ones.
But over the last five years, our transport network has struggled to cope. Sadiq Khan’s mismanagement has cost TfL £9.56 billion since 2016 and threatened vital amenities like the free over-60s travel and the Freedom Pass. These services are crucial; it is how older individuals are able to see friends, support families and participate in our communities.
I will ensure that free travel for over-60s and the Freedom Pass are protected by introducing corporate sponsorship to the tube network. TfL has now been bailed out multiple times by the taxpayer. We need a fresh approach to restoring TfL’s finances once and for all.
This is a priority issue in your Manifesto, and a priority for me too. As mayor, I will guarantee the Freedom Pass, and invest in vital transport upgrades, including lavatories in Tube stations and Step Free Access.
I commit that under all seven of the mayoral strategies the needs of older Londoners will be catered for. As mayor I will commit to represent and include older Londoners and ensure that
London works for people of all ages.