London is the world’s greatest city – a centre of business, industry and creativity for over 1,000 years. Yet while we celebrate the triumph of the Olympics and the continuing prosperity brought by our financial services and other industries, the wealth of the city does not extend to all Londoners.
The Mayor of London is primarily responsible for transport, policing, fire services, promoting the city of London and leading action on housing, health, environmental issues in the city using the £17 billion Mayoral annual budget. I want to see the office of the Mayor of London run with honesty and integrity. It is important that politicians remember that the money in their budget in not their own - it belongs to the people who pay taxes. Too often public money is squandered on schemes which benefit anti-free-market croney corporate interests on the one hand, or nonsensical politically correct ideological agendas on the other, while ignoring common sense solutions which would enhance the life of ordinary people and families or support long-standing communities. UKIP's policies will work to run the city effectively and efficiently while cherishing the history, heritage and culture of London and the United Kingdom.
Social housing is in such demand in London that hundreds of thousands of people on the waiting list will never get a council home. Young people in particular are affected by the prohibitive cost of purchasing their own property, or even finding somewhere decent to rent. There is a need for an extra 60,000 homes per year jus to cope with the increasing population, and that does not include an immediate need for 500,000 homes just to bring the housing market back to any kind of normality. This is not going to happen overnight.
The idea of 'affordable housing' here in London is a sham. 'Affordable homes' are sold at 80% of the market price which are well out of reach of anyone but wealthy homebuyers, and certainly not possible for key workers and most local residents to afford. The tragic result of this is that local people are forced to quit the area because they cannot afford 'affordable housing' if their existing homes are on estates which are redeveloped. This is a great injustice. UKIP's policy at national level is to stop this by allowing local residents the right to call a referendum on large scale planning applications.The London Mayor cannot change this policy alone, but a vote for UKIP sends a clear message that local people want to take back the right to decide how to run their own communites, rather than be dictated to by distant powers.
Regeneration of older council estates can be good, however, if residents and leaseholders are given a fair deal. If it is done well it can improve the quality of housing and provide many of the social and affordable homes which are needed in this area using section 106 money. However, is must be done fairly, meaning that all council tenants should be guaranteed a new home in the regenerated area at no extra cost to them, and leaseholders should be given the full market value for their homes.
The mayor also needs to encourage development of brownfield sites, and to identify more areas which can be reclassified as brownfield, decontaminated and used to provide homes.
Any money made from the sale of council homes under the right to buy scheme should to be re-invested into building new homes. I oppose the 70% discount being offered on 'Right to Buy' brought in under the current government.
The Mayor should encourage local boroughs to charge empty properties the highest 150% rate of council tax to discourage non-residents from buying properties as an investment and leaving them empty while they take good homes out of the market simply to 'park their money.'
Immigration and Population Growth
The major reason that there is huge pressure on house prices, wages and public services such as schools, transport and the NHS is population growth. The official population of London increased from 7.3 million in 2001 to 8.8 million in 2016, and is expected to 10 million by 2026. The official population figures do not account for illegal migrants however, so the real population may already be much higher.
Latest figures estimate approximately 135,000 people are being added to the city every year. The greatest challenge for the new Mayor will be to address the shortfall in public services which have not kept pace with the increasing population.
UKIP is unique among political parties in being honest about the fact that the huge strain on Britain's and London’s infrastructure will not be abated simply by increasing supply, but a decrease in demand is also necessary; meaning that the huge increase in population since the turn of the century needs to be reduced and the population stabilised.
UKIP advocates leaving the European Union and introducing an Australian style points system for immigration. This will mean that all foreign citizens will have equal right to apply to come to the UK whilst reducing net immigration, reducing population growth and allowing some breathing space for the development of infrastructure and public services to catch up with the extra demands placed upon them since the turn of the century.
The so called 'Garden Bridge' will be a huge waste of money with £150 million having been pledged out of the Transport for London budget. London has one of the finest urban riversides in the world, but the Garden Bridge will ruin the view of St Paul's Cathedral for everyone on the west side of the bridge.
It will also need the removal of many established trees and the paving over of green spaces on the south side of the river. Models show that it could also lead to overcrowding. There is little demand for a bridge in the proposed location as there are already two bridges nearby. Yet two new bridges for pedestrians and cycles could be built in other areas where there has been huge development in recent years: namely at Nine Elms and Rotherhithe.
I would propose wholly scrapping the Garden Bridge idea and spending the £150 million on other bridges which would benefit local people, rather than creating another white elephant project to add to collection alongside the Emirates Air Line and water cannons.
I support the continuing investment in London Underground, including signalling upgrades so that more trains can run per hour and new rolling stock with higher capacity, the Bakerloo and Northern Line extensions and the full automation of the Jubilee and Victoria Lines.
London has some of the most expensive public transport fares in the world, so I support a cap on fare increases over the term of the next Mayor to the rate of inflation. I also would not give fare advantages to contactless payments over Oyster, so that people who rely on cash or do not have access to debit or credit cards or other electronic methods of payment are not penalised.
HS2 is a huge waste of public money for a train line that nobody wants except the people who are building it. The £50 billion plus should be spent on things which everyday people need like hospitals, schools and upgrading existing transport infrastructure.
UKIP supports a second runway at Gatwick, and the reopening of Manston Airport in Kent.
Heathrow expansion will be a disaster for congestion and air pollution and will blight an extra 300,000 homes with vast amounts of noise pollution.
Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles
London's black cabs are a global icon and part of the city's heritage. London's cab drivers are the best in the world and a cherished part of the heritage of London.
There is room in the market for private hire vehicles to run alongside traditional black cabs, but private hire operators should be registered for tax in the UK. Some operators are tax registered abroad so they pay no corporation tax in the UK. Uber, for example, is registered in the Netherlands. Competition is good, but unfair competition to black cabs is wrong.
It is wrong that a corporation can benefit from British law and order, property rights and infrastructure, but not pay their fair share back into the society which provides what they need to do business.
UKIP will make sure that after Brexit, corporations domiciled in other EU countries will have to register their UK operations in Britain and pay proper corporation tax on their profits here.
Private hire drivers must also be more carefully regulated to ensure that they can speak fluent English and are not working in the country illegally with spurious medical certificates or foreign criminal record checks which do not meet British standards.
NHS and Healthcare
The Mayor is not directly responsible for healthcare in London - that is the remit of NHS England. However the Mayor can take a lead on initiatives within the city to promote healthcare.
It is important for the mayor to support the continuing existence of small local hospitals and surgeries, particularly in the outer boroughs where some are under threat of closure for conversion into housing units, as well as overseeing the development of the major hospitals - King's, St Thomas', Guy's, Royal Free, St George's, etc. as global centres of excellence.
Childhood obesity is one of the major health issues facing the city. It is essential to promote healthy eating in schools and providing the option of fresh, organic fruit and vegetables in schools wherever possible.
Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Spaces
Humans are not the only species on the planet. We must respect nature and live in harmony with our local flora and fauna. London’s green spaces and the green belt which surrounds the city are a legacy left to us by previous generations. They are under threat as never before from pressure to develop them bit by bit. This pressure must be resisted, and London must be maintained as one of the greenest cities in the world with the most parks per square mile. This generation should also leave our green spaces and green belt as a legacy to future generations.