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Mayor's Question Time recap: Westminster council buy flats for social housing in Hounslow

In the first Mayor's Question Time of 2017, Assembly Members are getting ready to grill Sadiq Khan on London's pressing issues

The Mayor has already been heavily interrogated about tube strikes and Southern Rail

In the first Mayor's Question Time of the year, Assembly Members interrogated Sadiq Khan on tube strikes, terrorism and Hounslow housing.

Members representing the capital's boroughs gathered at City Hall on Wednesday (January 18) and bought to light any concerns they have about the Labour Mayor's leadership.

Why have Westminster Council bought a number of flats in Hounslow? Will tube strikes be allowed to go ahead again? And just how prepared are the Metropolitan Police for a terror attack in London?

Mayor's Question Time: Sadiq Khan quizzed on Heathrow and housing recap

All these questions and more were on the agenda for today's MQTs and we picked out what's relevant for west London.

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That's all from us here at Mayor's Question Time for west London

That’s all from me here at City Hall where west London is concerned.

getwestlondon will be back for the next Mayor’s Question Time but until then, make sure to check the site for our main stories from today’s London Assembly meeting.

Question: Why were people given such a small amount of notice regarding the long-term closure of Lancaster Gate Tube Station?

AM Tony Devenish raises the question on behalf of his constituents after Lancaster Gate, on the Central line, shut to customers on January 4 while two 30-year-old elevators, which can carry 50 people, are replaced.

Lancaster Gate Tube station will be closed until mid-July

Khan responds: “Stations should only close when TfL consider it absolutely necessary.

“Tfl should not close the station without careful thought and consideration on how to minimise the impact on customer journeys.

“As a result of your question, I’ve looked into this specific matter.

“The process with Lancaster Gate took longer than it should.

“I therefore apologise on behalf of myself and TfL to customers who use the station for the late notification.

“I recognise how important it is for customers to be informed on works at the earliest opportunity.

“The notice provided was simply not good enough and must not be repeated.”

He adds a bridge like structure needs to be added into the station and therefore the ticket hall had to be closed, without any other alternative


Question: What are the Mayor's views on Westminster City Council's purchase of flats within Hounslow borough?

Khan says the twenty-four flats which have been bought by Westminster council in Hounslow will be used for those on the waiting list on Westminster council housing, not homeless.

The question, raised by AM Tom Copley, is a controversial topic in west London, with Khan saying “outer London boroughs councils are concerned that inner London boroughs will do this because it’s cheaper.”

He adds: “I would encourage councils to meet demands in their own borough where possible” and also says it’s crucial for London councils involved to “have an ongoing dialogue” with one another.

Khan says he appreciates the difficulties council have in housing people in their boroughs due to the crisis the capital faces.

I’m aware that many boroughs face a huge obligation to house their growing numbers of families who are homeless. The upshot is that many councils are forced to make a use of a combination in other areas, sometimes outside London.

Assembly are saying many boroughs are having to do this because of lack of place and cost(Image: Getty Images)

AM Copley says crucial issue here was that Hounslow council were not pleased with the short notice they were given about the decision, with Westminster “not engaging with them in what they were doing”.




Question: "How will Outer London's cycling infrastructure benefit from your budget for cycling?"

Assembly Member Navin Shah also recently celebrated the success of step free access at Harrow-on-the-Hill tube station

AM Navin Shah, who has always questioned the Mayor on outer boroughs issues, asks how the cycling infrastructure will benefit those increasingly living outside of zones 1 and 2 in London.

He responds: “Tfl’s business plan will double cycling investment of £771 million to deliver healthy streets across London.

“It’s an opportunity to do things differently.”

Cycling Superhighway 9 will benefit Hounslow, as well as Richmond and Ealing”, he adds.

“Brent and Harrow will benefit from these extensions and it will make town centres and neighbourhoods attractive to walk and cycle in”.

He also adds that the funding where cycling and walking is concerned “isn’t capped” and that City Hall want to be ambitious about it, rather than “prescriptive”.


Question from UKIP: Why did the Mayor say terror attacks are part of living in a big city?

UKIP’s AM Peter Whittle said the Mayor next time should have a little more urgency about terrorism and that saying something is “part and parcel” is not a strong enough term.

Khan responds that “we must be under no illusion about the scale of the threat we face”.

He also adds that the full quote from his trip to New York City in 2016 was:

Part and parcel of living in a great global city is you’ve got to be prepared for these things. You’ve got to be vigilant, you’ve got to support the police in doing an incredibly hard job.

He continues that the threat level is “severe” and it would be irresponsible not to prepare for a major terrorism incident.

Met Police terrorist attack training in London(Image: Getty Images/YUI MOK )

The question comes as he says 10 terror attacks on London have been foiled in the last two years.

A number of counter terrorism changes have been put into place, including armed officers patrolling on the streets, extra police on the tube who will be using the underground between jobs, and additional local policing.

Extra police at the stations after an alleged bomb plot was foiled in 2016 on the Jubilee Line


Question: How will it be decided which boroughs get more neighbourhood police officers?

Unmesh Desai put forward the question about extra policing

AM Unmesh Desai asks how it will be decided as to which boroughs get extra neighbourhood police. As it stands, each borough has at least two officers and a PCSO.

Sadiq Khan announced that every ward will get a second PCSO after concerns they would be scrapped altogether during Boris Johnson’s mayoralty.

The Mayor replies: “The safety of Londoners is my highest priority, we are returning to real neighbourhood policing by the end of 2017 as promised in my manifesto.

“Their local knowledge are essential to keeping our companies safe.”

A PCSO on the beat

“He continues for those wards, I’m going to go further - additional police officers will be distributed based on demand and after discussions with stakeholders.”

The Mayor adds there won’t be any extra for west London, and resources will go to Redbridge and Camden.

He also says they will remain in their wards apart from times such as New Year’s Eve and Notting Hill Carnival.

Mayor "does not have team ready" if rail devolution goes ahead

Sadiq Khan said a team of people is ready to go in order to take over Southern Rail if the government does devolve services to the Mayor’s Office - which is immediately disputed by AM Gareth Bacon, who said he “does not have a top team of experts ready to go” and accuses Khan of “grandstanding”.

The Mayor has previously stood strongly by his call for Southern Rail to be handed over to TfL so commuters have a better travelling experience.

Campaigners have protested against the 2.3% rise in London, Manchester, Glasgow and more stations

London Assembly members on Tuesday December 7 urged the cabinet to rethink the decision, claiming it did not put train passengers first.

It comes as a new poll has revealed that 14% of passengers across London and the wider commuter belt backed Mr Grayling over this decision to keep London commuter lines in control of train operating companies.


'Do you want to be the Labour Party leader?' Khan asked

The Mayor was asked if he wanted to be Labour Party leader - City Hall bursts into laughter.

He replies: “I do not want to be leader of the Labour Party, why would I want to do that when I have the best job, Mayor of London?”

Cue cheers from Assembly Members, with one replying, “it’s not even a vacancy”.

Question: Would the Mayor ban petrol cars in London?

AM Shaun Bailey asks the Mayor if he would “ban all petrol cars”, as Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is exploring at the moment.

He immediately replied that he doesn’t agree with the policy but is looking at some ambitious plans for air pollution already.

GLA Conservatives saying Khan "rattled" by tube strikes question

Not everyone is pleased with the answer the Mayor gave where tube strike were concerned.

City Hall’s Conservative Party said the Mayor was “rattled” by AM Prince’s question - and they’ve made it clear it’s not good enough a reply for them.

Question: What will your new walking and cycling commissioner achieve in first 100 days?

The Mayor has appointed the first ever Walking and Cycling commissioner in order to get Londoners fitter.

AM Caroline Russell asked what Will Norman will achieve in his first 100 days.

The Mayor has previously said he will “work closely with the Mayor in helping deliver his pledge to get more Londoners active by making cycling and walking safer and easier in the capital”.

Today at City Hall, he said, “I’m confident we can reset relations with key stakeholders and as an immediate priority he will identify challenges on how these streets’ vision can be achieved.”

The first cycle superhighway was first opened by Boris Johnson during his time as London Mayor. Pic: Dan Kitwood/Getty(Image: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

AM Russell said people have really good ideas about how they can get around without cars and Norman should go out and speak to commuters about their vision.

Khan replied saying it’s also important and that Zone 1 isn’t the only priority - and all of this ties in with air quality.

Question: Khan has recently boasted of 92% fewer days lost to strike action under his Mayoralty, is this still correct?

Keith Prince raised the questions of tube strikes

Assembly Member (AM) Keith Prince, with the first question, quickly raised whether Khan was still proud of his record given the recent strike action.

The Mayor has come under a huge amount of scrutiny after he said during his election campaign that industrial action was a ‘sign of failure’ and promised ‘zero days of strikes’ if he became Mayor.

Londoners faced horrific journeys to and from work in January strikes

Khan said he is suffering from a “toxic hangover of Boris Johnson’s Mayoralty”.

“I will reduce the number of strike action,” he added.

But Prince retaliated: “Do you feel you owe Londoners an apology for breaking your apology for saying there will be zero strikes?”

The Mayor continued to raise Boris Johnson’s “terrible” record, before adding that they “must resolve differences around the table” and industrial relations need to be worked on to solve the issue.

Although National Rail services are not affected by the strike there are no Underground services from key interchange stations, making home county journeys just as hellish


Live from City Hall for the first Mayor's Question Time

Good Morning readers, it’s Amita Joshi here reporting live from City Hall as we wait for Sadiq Khan to deliver his regular report before we kick off with the first 2017 questions which London Assembly Members will put forward to the Mayors.

Stay tuned whilst we bring you the latest west London related news, with a focus on Hounslow housing, tube strikes and terror attack preparation from the crime and policing unit.

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