It’s been an eventful week again. After months of allegations which have distracted everyone from the real issues facing London this May, Lee Jasper, the Mayor’s race and equalities adviser resigned. While the London media and politicos have been feverishly following the saga, bread and butter issues like Post Office closures and the launch of the mayoral candidates’ transport manifestos are higher on most people’s agenda.
The Assembly has spent an exorbitant amount of time looking into and discussing the allegations against Lee Jasper, at the expense of further scrutiny of the Olympics and other crucial issues facing capital. Important scheduled meetings have had to make way as opponents of the Mayor have exploited the Evening Standard’s allegations against Lee Jasper to the full.
Out canvassing in the real world, I have yet to hear anyone raise the issue on the doorstep. So while the capital’s political and media classes have been totally consumed by the controversy, it has not arisen on the doorstep. If anything, people are struggling to get to the facts and understand what it is Lee is actually supposed to have done. Now he has stood down we can hopefully get back to addressing the real election issues – improving public transport, tackling climate change, keeping London safe, providing affordable housing, preparing for the Olympics and ensuring the continued success of our economy.
From the macro to the micro, the proposal to close Post Offices in West London has aroused strong feeling in all the neighbourhoods affected. In my home-postal district, W9, we will have no Post Offices if the plans go ahead as written. So a residential population of 32,300 including many elderly people and young families will be expected to travel over a mile to St John’s Wood or Bayswater.
Hopefully the Mayor’s legal challenge will put a stop to these unfair closures on the grounds of the disproportionate effect it will have on London and the short length of the consultation process itself.
And finally, the launch of the Mayor’s transport manifesto saw him promise 24-hour freedom passes; mobile phone oyster card payment; 500 CO2 cutting hybrid buses; automatic congestion charge payment; a central London bike hire scheme; the taking over of the Croydon tram link and free travel for veterans. All this whilst Boris Johnson struggles to budget his bus plans properly and has under-costed to the tune of £100 million! With the £16 billion Crossrail project now in the hands of the mayoralty and about to get underway, who would you entrust to run London?