Mayor hopeful Sadiq Khan talks ‘housing crisis’ on Redbridge visit
- Credit: Archant
Labour’s London mayoral candidate has said he will use “planning powers” to stop foreign investors buying up homes to use as “gold bricks”.
MP for Tooting Sadiq Khan, 45, spoke to the Recorder about everything from transport to air quality in the borough while canvassing in Redbridge on Saturday.
Mr Khan, the son of a bus driver and seamstress, said it was vital Londoners had “first dibs” on affordable homes, before adding he would redefine what was meant by “genuinely affordable”.
“The mayor has powers around planning to stop buy-to-leave investors,” said the hopeful, who pledged to set up a team dedicated to fast-tracking the building of affordable properties.
“Homes are being sold off to Middle Eastern and Asian investors – we have got to say no.
“I have nothing against foreigners, but don’t use London as gold bricks. It’s personal to me, I was raised on a council estate and I want Londoners to have security.”
Despite the capital’s “housing crisis”, Mr Khan ruled out building on Redbridge’s green belt, stating there was publicly-owned land “16 times the size of Hyde Park” in London that could be freed up for development.
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The comments come after Redbridge Council earmarked Oakfield Playing Fields, Forest Road, Barkingside, for development last year.
“We don’t want to use green belt – there’s enough land available, I just don’t believe in it,” he said.
“We need to make sure we’re using all the land that we can – there are so many things that haven’t been tried yet.”
The former lawyer, who said London’s transport is “the most expensive in Europe”, hopes to implement a fares freeze for the next four years – paid for by existing Transport for London (TfL) budgets.
Mr Khan has also set his sights on securing money for Crossrail 2, which will run from the north to the south of the capital, if he is voted in on May 5.
Addressing concerns about disparities in the life expectancy of those from poorer and wealthier parts of the city, the politician said tackling pollution would be a step forward.
“About 10,000 Londoners die a year because of poor air quality and we have got to address these issues,” said Mr Khan, who wants to see hydrogen-powered buses on our streets.
“I was at Redbridge roundabout and the pollution there is horrible.”
The optimistic candidate said London, the “greatest city in the world”, was at a “crossroads” at this election.
He said: “Vote for another Conservative and things will get worse and worse.
“But this time you can get involved and make a real change.”
The MP, who was joined by Greater London Assembly (GLA) candidate Ivana Bartoletti, set Labour supporters’ pulses racing as he addressed them in Woodford Avenue in the pouring rain.
He asked: “Can we do it? Are we going to win again? Are we going to make history?”
The questions were followed by three resounding yeses from the excited crowd.
Not sure who deserves your vote at the London mayoral elections?
We’re doing our bit to help make up your mind by hosting an online hustings next month.
Five candidates have already signed up to the event which will be hosted live as it happens on our website on Monday, March 7 from 6pm to 7pm.
Frontrunners Sadiq Khan MP (Labour) and Zac Goldsmith MP (Conservative) will be joined by Cllr Sian Berry (Green), Caroline Pidgeon (Liberal Democrat) and Sophie Walker (Women’s Equality Party).
George Galloway (Respect) and Petter Whittle (Ukip) are yet to confirm their attendance.
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Busy that night? Don’t worry – all the hotly-contested details from the night will appear in that week’s newspaper.
The London mayoral election will take place on May 5.