Boris Johnson’s ‘letter to London’ in full
Read Boris Johnson's open letter to London ahead of the mayoral election in full on politics.co.uk.
This election comes when we have been going through the toughest times that anyone can remember.
The big question is therefore blindingly simple.
It is about who has the best plan for the jobs and growth that will help bring prosperity to all.
It is about who will deliver the investment – from central government – that will take London forward.
It is about who you can trust to spend that money wisely – and who will be honest with you about where the money is coming from, and how it is spent.
I believe my 9 point plan is right for the future of the greatest city on earth.
My ambition is to make London ever safer, greener, cleaner and more attractive to live in and invest in.
That means continuing to put more police out on the street.
While other police forces have been cut, London now has over a thousand more officers than there were when I was elected. And now we are taking officers out of backroom jobs – and putting 2000 in Safer Neighbourhood Teams.
That is a massive boost to neighbourhood policing. Those extra bodies will help us to continue to drive down crime.
Crime overall is down almost 11 per cent in the last four years. The murder rate is down by a quarter. Bus crime is down by a third.
I want London to be one of the safest cities on earth – because a safer city is not only a happier city. It is a city that attracts investment and helps us create jobs.
And that is why we will continue our extraordinary neo-Victorian programme of investment in transport.
The population is growing fast, and will increase by at least a million in the next ten years. Tube and rail passenger numbers are expected to rise by 30 per cent by 2020.
We would be mad to rely on the bakelite fuseboxes and antiquated signalling that is still to be found on the oldest Tube system on earth.
We cannot continue to cram our passengers in conditions that are ever hotter and more uncomfortable.
Unless we relieve the pressure on the Central Line, it is predicted that rush hour conditions will breach EU rules on the transit of live animals.
That is why I fought so hard to rescue Crossrail from the Treasury chopping block.
That is why it is utterly vital that we press on with our planned Tube improvements – and why it would be so wrong and so short-sighted to cut those programmes.
In the next four years we have a historic chance to automate the Tube. We can move to “driverless” trains – with no loss of safety – as they have done in Paris, Singapore and elsewhere.
New technology has helped us to cut delays by 40 per cent in the last four years.
I want to go further, and reduce delays by another 30 per cent. We have the technology to do it.
Do you want London to be left behind by Paris? I don’t.
Do you want us to be held up by trades union barons? I don’t.
And it is our transport investments that will unlock growth, jobs and the potential for new homes.
Plans are already underway for a new “Blackwall Two” tunnel to relieve cross-river congestion. We are extending the Northern line to Battersea – and we can solve the power station conundrum that has baffled London for 30 years.
Across London, from Ealing to Stratford, from Vauxhall to Brent Cross, there are new growth areas with astonishing scope for top-quality development.
Croydon and Tottenham – two of the areas worst hit by last year’s riots – are both on the verge of exciting regeneration schemes, and I am determined to drive them forward over the next four years.
International investors are already queuing up to stake their claim – and I will make sure the world knows what London has to offer.
It is these opportunity areas that will help us to tackle London’s housing crisis – but we will go further.
Yes, I am proud that we have defied the sceptics and built a record 52,000 affordable homes over the last four years. Now I intend to create a new agency – Homes for London – that will bring 530 hectares of public land together and make that land available for development.
If you add together the transport, housing and regeneration programmes that are already funded – we will create 200,000 jobs over the next four years.
But – as far as possible – I want Londoners to be in a position to get these jobs.
Too many young Londoners are coming on to the job market without the real skills and aptitude they need. All too often, they are losing out to talented and determined workers from elsewhere.
That is why I will substantially expand our apprenticeship scheme. We have helped 54,000 become apprentices in a vast range of professions – and 84 per cent stay on in full-time jobs.
Over the next four years we are going to help create another 250,000 apprenticeships; and at a time of high youth unemployment I believe it is among the most important things we can do for our city.
We will continue and expand all our programmes that will help young people to get ready for the job market – especially those who are at most risk of missing out.
In the next four years, we will step up all the work we are doing through Team London – mentoring, encouraging youth groups of all kinds, boosting grassroots sport, and tackling illiteracy.
It is a scandal that one in four 11 year olds is still unable properly to read or write.
My ambition is to begin to stamp out illiteracy among London’s 11 year olds. That is the first step on the path away from crime and towards a job.
And we will help business – especially SMEs – to take on those potential employees. We have set up the London Growth Fund to offer low-cost loans.
We will continue with our £221 m programme of investment in high streets and shopping districts – improving the streetscape, planting trees, and helping retailers to face the challenge of the big shopping centres.
We will expand the best cycle hire scheme on earth. We will continue to improve London’s air quality, and a host of other measures to improve the quality of life for Londoners.
We can do all these things because we are managing our budgets responsibly. We have abandoned the grandiose and wasteful approach of the previous mayor.
This has allowed me to keep my promises to London over the last four years.
I have delivered a 24 hour freedom pass – and we will now make sure that everyone gets it as soon as they turn 60, and we will negotiate to put it on the overground rail as well.
I got rid of the Western Extension Zone of the Congestion charge, because it was imposed in defiance of people’s wishes.
I banned alcohol on public transport and put another 697 uniformed officers on the buses and tube.
I have got rid of the bendy bus and introduced a new Routemaster-style bus for London, built in Britain, creating jobs in this country, the cleanest new bus in Europe – and each of them costs no more than a current hybrid bus.
I have saved billions in unnecessary expense at TFL, disposed of 23 buildings and 25 per cent of the directors. I have sold two police flats and cut bonuses across the board.
It is this relentless efficiency with your money that has allowed me to freeze the Mayoral share of council tax for four years. Now I am promising to cut it by 10 per cent.
I believe that in tough times, that is the right approach for London.
We simply cannot afford to go back to the waste and inefficiency of the previous regime.
This city has a fantastic future. London is still the financial capital of Europe, if not the world. We also have an astonishing array of manufacturing and in the last four years London has seen an explosion of digital start-up companies.
It is the global crossroads, the entrepot that unites the BRIC economies – Brazil, Russia, India and China. London continues to be the artistic and cultural capital of the world, and with more top universities and medical research facilities than any other capital.
But I want all Londoners to share in that success – and that means investing now in the things that will create jobs and growth.
The choice is clear this Thursday.
It is between a Mayor who invests in our future – and irresponsible proposals from Ken Livingstone that would put that investment at risk.
I know I am best placed to get the funds our city will need.
I will use that money well – not waste it on schemes of no economic benefit to London.
I want to unite London – not try to divide one group from another.
I want to take London forwards – not back to the 1970s.
I believe I am best placed to lead London out of recession, to get real and lasting value from the Olympics, and to lengthen our lead as the greatest city on earth.
I hope I can count on your vote on Thursday.