Thursday, September 23News For London

Tory GLA member describes Mayoral question time meeting as a ‘farce’.

Sadiq Khan and Conservative panel members disagreed on various topics and policies, a significant dispute revolved around Uber and the decision made by Travel for London (TFL) to revoke their license.


Khan came under fire from both Andrew Boff and Tony Devenish on the subject of Uber. Boff stated: “So you considered it proper to interfere at one point and improper to interfere at another?”


Khan responded: “I don’t think having discussions with the global CO who has apologised is an improper use of the commissioner’s time”.


These comments resulted in a back and forth dispute, ultimately resulting in Boff being denied the opportunity to ask a question relating to Uber and the Labour conference, with the chair of the meeting, Jeannette Arnoid, deeming the question irrelevant.


Another panel member who was dissatisfied with the Mayors support for TFL was Tony Davendish. Davendish supported the idea posed by Boff by challenging the mayor with the statement, “nothing to say about 40,000 people having their careers damaged, lowest paid workers who can’t pay for food on their tables”.


Khan responded: “I welcome the Conservative party finally taking an interest in the low pay and conditions of the lowest workers in London”.


This leads Davendish to describe the meeting as a ‘farce’, concluding the questions put forward by Conservative panel members regarding Uber having their license taken away.


Another area of dispute involved the increase in license fees for private hire operators. Khan outlined how the current fees paid by private hire operators are unfair and that the new fees will now reflect the very size of operator’s fleet, “unfair that until this review an operator with 11 cars in the fleet would pay the same as someone with 30,000”.


Gareth Bacon, a Conservative panel member, challenged Khan on the proposed increase in fees. Bacon stated “is it really fair if you have ten times as many vehicles as the smallest operator and their fees go up by 34 percent, why should yours go up by 964 percent?”. Later on, in the discussion Khan stated “the worst thing for businesses in London is an extreme Tory hard Brexit”. This answer produced groans from various panel members, with Bacon describing it as a “nonsense” answer.


Bacon proposed to Khan that he should put a freeze on this change in policy as it will affect the livelihood of many individuals, however Khan stuck by his support for TFL, describing it as ‘right’ and ‘proper’ that private hire organisations pay more towards licensing.


This meeting took place on Thursday at City Hall, where Conservative, UKIP, Liberal Democrats and Labour panel members asked Khan questions on a range of topics.


The agenda for the question time consisted of the cost of Brexit, refusing to re-license Uber, new housing policies, London’s population growth.


The next London Assembly meeting will take place on Thursday the 16th November at City Hall.