Sadiq Khan: 'Islington needs a mayor on its side'
PUBLISHED: 16:26 05 February 2016 | UPDATED: 16:26 05 February 2016
Mayoral hopeful Sadiq Khan today outlined how he would address youth violence and the housing crisis in Islington.
Sadiq Khan visits Bunhill Energy Centre. Pictures: Ellie Hoskins
Sadiq Khan hears from Islington Council staff and ward representatives
Lucy Padfield, energy services manager at Islington Council, speaks to Labour mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan outside Bunhill Energy Centre
Sadiq Khan, right, inside the compound of Bunhill Energy Centre with Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry, second left, and Islington councillors
Sadiq Khan sits down with the Gazette for a coffee in Duncan Terrace cafe, City Road, after visiting Bunhill Energy Centre
Speaking to the Gazette, Labour candidate Mr Khan shared his plans for dealing with two of the biggest issues facing the borough.
Last year, knife crime reached a five-year high in Islington, with three teenagers stabbed to death and more than 100 injured. The council even adjusted its 2015/16 budget to deal with the issue, injecting £500,000 for youth mentoring.
Meanwhile, house and rent prices have continued to soar in a borough that is among the most deprived in the country and suffers Britain’s fourth-worst rate of child poverty.
Tooting MP Mr Khan, who in polls is currently leading the race to take the London mayoralty from Boris Johnson, shares an affinity with the area. As a student he attended London Metropolitan University, in Holloway Road, and lived in Tufnell Park for three years.
Today, he visited Bunhill Energy Centre, in Central Street, Finsbury, to launch his green energy plan. But afterwards, as Mr Khan sat down for a coffee in Duncan Terrace cafe, City Road, he was happy to turn his attention elsewhere.
Mr Khan, father of two teenage daughters - “I know how worrying knife crime and gangs are” - promised to bring back neighbourhood policing.
“The most effective way is policing by consent,” he said. “The public needs confidence in the police. If the police is open, people are more likely to come forward with information.
“One of the best things Ken Livingstone did as mayor was introduce neighbourhood policing. Every ward had one sergeant, two police officers and three PCSOs. They got to know the community and that led to violent crime and knife crime going down.
“Unfortunately, over the last few years, we have been losing that. I will ensure we keep London safer using neighbourhood policing, and working with councils like Islington. But let me also make it clear that the vast majority of young people are law-abiding.”
In November, Mr Johnson endorsed stop and searches – “sensitively, politely and within the law” - and Mr Khan agreed.
“Stop and search is a useful tool for the police, if intelligence-led and done properly,” he said.
“What doesn’t work is if police stop and search people who have done nothing wrong. That can anger the person and their family, and that’s what I mean about building confidence in the police.”
“Housing is the main issue facing Londoners,” Mr Khan said. “My London Plan would give genuinely affordable homes.
“Affordable housing has become a euphemism in London. It’s meaningless. My definition of a London living rent would be if you earn £1,500 a month, you would pay no more than £500 a month.”
Gentrification has become increasingly visible in Islington. In historically deprived Caledonian Road, for example, a second Costa branch opened last month. It’s a road where tenants and independent businesses are likely to experience increasing rents in coming years.
“I know this area well,” the 45-year-old said. “I went to London Metropolitan University. I lived in Tufnell Park for three years. I’ve seen the changes, and they are fantastic.
“But we have to avoid people being priced out of an area they call home. You see Islington Council doing this with its affordable new builds in estates, where local people get priority. This council needs a mayor on its side.”