The Mayor stressed that safety in London is “the most important responsibility” he has, when he was talking about it in People’s Question Time in Dagenham last Thursday.
“As we continue to face an unprecedented terrorist threat, it’s a tough part of my job,” the Mayor said, “but we are lucky to have the best police force in the world.”
Khan reminded the attendees that the police showed “incredible bravery in recent months”.
He also emphasised that he is all the time in close touch with the Metropolitan police.
“I am working with the Met every day, to keep our city safe and to ensure we are as prepared as possible.”
But the main concern of those who questioned the Mayor was knife crime.
A mother from Dagenham raised the issue by saying that her son was stabbed and died last year.
She said that one of the priorities is to safeguard the children. She also pointed out that funding has been promised for youth activities after her son’s death.
“What will my son’s legacy be?” she asked the Mayor.
Khan said that 15 teenagers lost their lives “this year alone”. This number rises to 33 if we include all those who are under 25.
He emphasised that many things are being done to tackle knife crime.
“I can’t pretend there is only one single thing that will reduce or stop knife crime.”
“There is an interesting phrase that I like,” the Mayor said, “It says it takes a village to raise a child.”
He asserted that tackling the knife crime needs a whole village.
“The police are doing what they can on their side,” Khan said, “there is stop and search, arrest, sweep knives, to stop young people carrying knives’.”
“But the police by themselves aren’t going to solve this,” he emphasised, “We need schools to play a role as well.”
The mayor mentioned that he organised a meeting with teachers the week before. The aim was to urge them to increase the awareness of children about the risks of carrying a knife.
The Conservative AM Shaun Bailey asserted that most of what the Mayor had said was correct.
“He does have a knife strategy and he is looking in the right direction, it has a few holes.”
Nimo C. from Dagenham was another mother who raised her concerns about knife crime and the safety of her children, when she was given the opportunity to question the Mayor.
Westminster World asked her later about this, and she stressed again that the police should take more responsibility to prevent this crime from happening.
Safety and security in London Transport:
Khan also highlighted housing and transport as two other key priorities.
During the meeting, a taxi driver asked him about the future of the black cab. Khan said that he had increased the number of bus lanes that black taxis can drive in.
He added: “we have increased the number of cab ranks for the first time in a long period of time.”
Pointing out his policy to get rid of polluting cars, he said: “We have increased the amount of money black taxis get to move from diesel to zero emission taxis.”
He stressed that these cabs should continue to offer their services to Londoners and “have a bright future going forward”.
“I am doing what I can to help the black taxi trade,” the Mayor said, “Because you are a crucial part of transport in London, you are iconic and very important and accessible to those who are disabled.”
Khan reiterated that safety and security concerns were the main reasons TFL decided to not renew the license to Uber.
“What Uber need to do is to persuade TFL that they are going to make sure they address the four reasons not one, four reasons, TFL gave to refuse their license.”
The mayor emphasised safety as an essential element that should be respected by any company.
“We want a flourishing taxi and private hire vehicle trade in London that is safe, secure and also treats everyone with the dignity they deserve.”
Housing Crisis and building plan:
Another area of questioning was the way in which the planned 66,000 homes a year can be delivered.
Mayor Khan said that he is aiming to attract more diversity in this sector by making it more attractive.
“We are happy to speak to businesses interested in doing this; hopefully it can be in London.”
Khan made it clear that he was determined to encourage construction businesses to come to London. He also revealed a draft plan that he will publish next month.
“My long-term target is half of all new homes to be affordable,” the Mayor said.
But the question of affordability is still one of the issues that many Londoners are concerned about.
Sam is a nurse who said that her wage is only 1600 pounds a month, while an affordable home would be 1200 pounds.
She spoke to Westminster World at the end of the meeting.
The Conservative AM Andrew Boff criticised the Mayor’s policy on housing. He claimed that Khan “goes on about percentages of housing without going about global numbers.”
Boff contended that the Mayor thinks that he had had a success if “he built two houses and one was affordable.”
Later, Mr. Khan defended himself and his strategy in housing.
“We have had eight years of a Tory Mayor, seven years of a Tory government,” the Mayor said, “I don’t want to be lectured by a Tory about the housing crisis.”