My priorities for London

My priorities for London are:

  • Transport - greater accessibility, reducing air pollution, improving safety for cyclists
  • Crime and Policing
  • London's environment
  • Solutions for London's housing crisis

TRANSPORT

With the vast majority of the Mayor’s budget  dedicated to transport, every GLA member must help scrutinise the Mayor's transport policies.  Everything from prices to services are vital to every Londoner. My particular transport priorities are:

  • Greater accessibility for London’s public transport
  • Reducing air pollution from London’s transport
  • Improving safety for cyclists 

Greater accessibility for London’s public transport

At the moment travelling with a wheel chair or buggy across London is a bit of a hit and miss affair.  You could find yourself being sent miles out of your way by TfL’s journey planner which tells you to get off public transport and walk to the next accessible station. Or you could find yourself scuttling up and down platforms trying to find the accessible train carriage entrance.  At other times you will have a smooth journey with accessible public transport taking you door to door. We have to call time on this lottery in London’s accessible transport.  

Reducing Air pollution from London’s transport

Evidence is now overwhelming that air pollution from transport is now a more serious public health problem than obesity or even alcohol.  It is killing Londoners so we need to act and fast with an ambitious new strategy.  This must include electric vehicles both in public and private transport as well as tougher low emissions zones and huge investment in all greener transport options.

We need to remember the needs of the more vulnerable as we green our transport – whether that’s small business or the disabled. Motobility for example provides disabled people with a leased car in exchange for their disability mobility allowance.  Currently Motobility do not offer electric cars for lease.  The Mayor should push for Motobility to offer an electric car option so disabled people can drive in London without fear of adding to air pollution.

Improving safety for cyclists

We need to support the CTC (the national cycling charity) campaign for a formal reporting mechanism between the police and Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency and the Transport Commissioner.   It should be the responsibility of the police and/or Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency to notify the Transport Commissioner of operators involved in serious offences or fatal collisions which may have involved safety failings by operators, so that these can be investigated at the earliest possible opportunity.

CRIME AND POLICING

As a social housing lawyer, significant parts of my work involved the police. From dealing with crack houses to tackling anti-social behaviour, from gang violence to domestic violence, I’m clear from my experience that it’s the most vulnerable in society who need the support of the police the most.

So I’m truly alarmed about the predictions of massive police cuts across London over the next few years. London Lib Dems need to be championing the case for more police now and lead the opposition to Conservative police cuts. We need to make the social justice case for more police.

We need the Met to be at the forefront of more engaged partnerships with communities and organisations across the capital – from BAME Londoners to small businesses. A priority for me would be to improve police working with the NHS’ mental health services, rolling out initiatives championed by Lib Dem Coalition Health Ministers like Paul Burstow and Norman Lamb when they were in power. 

LONDON'S ENVIRONMENT 

Liberal Democrats have a proud history of action and campaigning on the environment. I believe we need to use the GLA far more to promote our green values and policies. 

Given that climate change is the key environmental issue of our age, I believe we should build on the work my husband Ed did as Secretary of State for Climate Change and be the first party to articulate a practical vision for London to become the developed world's first carbon neutral city. 

To do this as an Assembly Member in practice means I would campaign to get the Mayor to adopt ambitious decarbonisation targets for London with a policy framework to meet them. From transport to public procurement, from housing to planning, the Mayor already has most of the legal powers necessary - it's a question of making climate a top priority. 

But our environmental campaigning must encompass much more - from protecting London's wildlife to enhancing our open spaces especially our wonderful parks. Our home-building programme must both make zero carbon homes a reality and ensure we build sustainable communities by valuing the environment outside our front doors.

SOLUTIONS FOR LONDON'S HOUSING CRISIS

Some of the worst housing cases I have handled have been in London - be it tenants forced to live in appalling squalor or fighting just for a bed for mother and her premature baby. 

London does not have to be like this. For too long Labour and Conservative Councils have talked the talk over tackling bad landlords and fraud but have failed to take action.

The Lib Dems should be leading the charge to drive up London’s housing standards.  I have the knowledge of the law, the practical experience of using it and the campaigning experience to lead that charge.

We should:

  • Push for a new strategy for building many more homes, that uses the planning system and public sector land more aggressively and involves London to Nick Clegg's ideas for 10 Garden Cities across the South East
  • Get far more empty homes back into use, with GLA helping London Boroughs and landlords
  • Embarrass GLA and Boroughs to use existing law to tackle London’s worse private landlords
  • Campaign to stop the extension of the Right to Buy to Housing Association homes and expose the collossal fraud in existing Right to Buy

Read more in the Focus on Housing.