My South London Press column, 20/05/2016

The reaction to the election of Sadiq Khan as our new Mayor has been London at its best.  Across the city it is clear that there is enormous goodwill towards him from Londoners of different ages, backgrounds and faiths.  In his first days in office he has been reaching out and making it clear that his claim that he will be a Mayor for all Londoners was not just campaign rhetoric.

There has been no shortage of advice and suggestions as to what his priorities should be, although it is already clear that addressing London’s housing crisis will be at the top of any list with transport and making the city safer not far behind.  There will be lots of efforts to get the Mayor to address local concerns and he already knows that here in Lewisham, getting the Bakerloo Line extension will make a huge difference.  Expectations are high and it is easy for them to become unrealistic but we have a mayor who will be aiming to deliver the manifesto which has just been endorsed by London and we shall be doing all we can in Lewisham to help.

We are now half way through our term here in Lewisham and I have been taking stock of the progress we have made on our own manifesto.  I can see real progress in many areas and some of our pledges have already been acted on.  We have already agreed to adopting a 20mph speed limit on all the roads we manage and this is now being put into effect.  Other things have been overtaken by events beyond our control – two years ago I could never have imagined that George Osborne would be telling Councils to put council tax up! With two years to go until the next local elections we have already met more than half of our pledges but we will be working hard over the next two years to deliver those that are still outstanding.

Before you are able to vote in the next local elections in 2018 there will be one more opportunity to cast a vote. The European Referendum takes place on 23 June and the debate is already heated, and at times emotional. One issue that is a real concern to Londoners is air quality and I have no doubt it is something Mayor Khan will be working on. The most-worrying pollutants are nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and tiny particles that can go deep into your lungs called PM2.5. Despite this, the UK has broken EU safety limits for NO2 for years. And the EU has acted with legal action against the UK ultimately forcing the Government to make plans to reduce levels. This isn’t the sort of thing you hear much about during the campaigning but it is one good answer to that question “What has the EU ever done for us?”