My pledge to keep working with London’s citizens



This evening I’m speaking at London Citizens’ accountability assembly. Or rather, I’m not really speaking so much as pledging to work with them, as Greens have done for the past twelve years on the London Assembly.

I’m happy to agree to the whole of their agenda for London, all of which is in our manifesto, with one tiny exception. They would like free travel extended to all full time students and apprentices, which is a very worthwhile but expensive promise. Instead we have pledged to bring down fares for everyone, and to help students further by bringing down housing costs, making it safer and easier to cycle, and campaigning against education cuts.

A lot of my work on the Assembly in the past four years, and that of my colleague Darren Johnson, has been to do with the London Citizens agenda from 2008.

I have pushed, lobbied, battled with Boris to make good on his promise to support a network of Community Land Trusts. Working closely with London Citizens and other communities around London, I had meetings with the Mayor’s advisor and staff and raised it at Mayor’s Question Time. I wrote a report showing how he could do it, and repeatedly badgered him into opening the door for them.

Sadly, earlier this year he sold the St Clements’ site to another bidder, leaving the local community that London Citizens organised to crowbar their way back in. He claims it’s a Community Land Trust but it isn’t owned or controlled by the community. I really want to get City Hall to work with local people to build permanently affordable housing, and to stop thinking that “regeneration” can be delivered without them.

Darren has spent years pushing the London Living Wage, ever since we got Ken to set up the London Living Wage Unit as part of our budget deal in 2004. Every year Darren compiles a progress report on local councils, pressuring them to sign up. He has lobbied Boria on his broken promises on catering, government departments and most recently the Olympics hotels. Boris completely failed hotel workers by granting Holiday Inn the prestiguous position of official hotel partner for the London 2012 Games, despite their refusing to sign up the London Living Wage.

We also brought the Strangers into Citizens campaign into the spotlight, getting cross-party support on the London Assembly and persuading the Mayor to support the campaign.

Darren and I are hoping to get re-elected to the Assembly on the 3rd May, and to get more Greens alongside us. Together we can continue to work closely with communities like London Citizens to deliver on our common vision for a fairer, more affordable and healthier London.