Gareth Bacon: Working with Boris – a four-year-review from City Hall
Gareth Bacon is the Conservative Group leader on the London Assembly.
Over the past mayoral term, the Conservatives on the London Assembly have been working hard to achieve positive change in London. We have produced a series of reports that have helped us lobby for policy development in areas such as transport, policing, environment and others.
As Boris’s reign in London comes to an end, here is a round-up of some of the best work carried out by your Conservative Assembly Members at City Hall.
An efficient and reliable transport system is essential for London and we have been at the forefront of pushing new and greener technology to keep our city moving.
Roger Evans proposed more flexible ticketing options for those who work part-time, providing an incentive for people to walk, cycle or work from home on one or two days a week. His two reports, Home Works and Commuter Payback, led TfL to significantly reduce the daily cap to one fifth of a Weekly Travelcard, saving money for those who commute via Oyster pay as you go.
Elsewhere, Richard Tracey published a report calling for driverless trains. The research continues to set the agenda, especially since the Mayor has promised that TfL/LU will never buy another Tube train that needs a driver.
London Fire and Emergency Planning
The GLA Conservatives supported London’s Fire Commissioner in his campaign to launch an innovative Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service co-responding pilot. A crucial report by Tony Arbour, Time Critical, raised the profile of co-responding and outlined the huge benefit of firefighters attending incidents such as cardiac arrest alongside the ambulance service.
I led a public fight with the Fire Brigades’ Union when they tried to block the pilot. The tireless campaigning by GLA members was rewarded in February when the pilot was launched in four London boroughs. Already, firefighters have saved the lives of a teenage footballer and an infant baby as a result of the pilot.
In July 2014, Steve O’Connell’s Gap in the Market report set out an action plan to build 10,000 new homes on small disused sites in London, including a pilot project to support 100 self-built homes. This work was taken forward more recently by Andrew Boff who, in his Pop-up Housing report, proposed building modern modular homes that were shown to cut the cost of renting in London by a third.
We also called for the relaxation of parking limits in new developments in outer London boroughs, a policy recently adopted in the revised London Plan.
Steve O’Connell identified potential to build more GP surgeries by funding them through the planning system in his Health Appreciation report. The research identified the need for 550 more GPs in London over the next decade as the population increases.
In November, Kemi Badenoch published one of this group’s most compelling pieces of research, which suggested over 92,000 sexual assaults and rapes of men had gone unreported to police over the past five years. As a direct result of Kemi’s Silent Suffering report, the Mayor of London pledged £72,000 over the next three years for London’s leading male rape charity.
An innovative solution of reporting rape at cash machines was suggested in Andrew Boff’s ‘eReport’, while Tony Arbour highlighted the assistance smartphone technology could provide to the police and fire brigade through his Smart Cop and Updated Response publications.
Binge drinking was found to be costing London’s ambulance service and A&Es a combined £61million a year in Tony Arbour’s On the Wagon report. The paper called for sobering centres and booze buses in London’s drinking hot spots to divert the city’s binge drinkers away from precious emergency resources.
Andrew Boff’s Pay and Dismay called for London hospitals to move to a pay-on-exit system, a sensible solution to stop hospital visitors being overcharged.
Andrew also recently led the health committee’s report, ‘Access to Health Services for Deaf People’. The report called for urgent action to eliminate the disadvantages deaf people face when accessing the health service. Research showed these disadvantages place deaf people at more risk of preventable ill-health. The report recommended that data on hearing disability should be routinely collected and compiled by NHS England London and that a universal standard for British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting should be provided in GP surgeries and hospitals.
We are now preparing to say goodbye to Members who are stepping down in May, as well as welcoming new faces to our group for the new mayoral cycle.
Whoever captures the Mayoralty on May 5, the GLA Conservatives will be working hard to hold the Mayor to account and to advance Conservative policies at City Hall.
To keep up to date with our latest work, visit www.glaconservatives.co.uk.