More than 3,000 community leaders and members from Citizens UK’s alliances across London will tonight champion the problems affecting their communities, and put the candidates for London Mayor on the spot at an event they are calling an “Accountability Assembly”.
With the pandemic exacerbating social issues that were already felt by many, London Citizens are asking for action on a people’s manifesto from Mayor Sadiq Khan and the Conservatives’ candidate, Shaun Bailey. They include:
- Committing to improve the desperate housing situation in London by building more genuinely affordable homes on major regeneration sites like Old Oak Common and the Olympic Park; increasing the quality of temporary accommodation and ensuring it is used only as a short-term solution; and increasing the supply of supported accommodation
- Making youth safety a priority by funding accountability panels that scrutinise police behaviour alongside researching and implementing ways to make this system more effective, as well as establishing a Parent Commissioner for London at the Greater London Authority to amplify and advocate for parent voices
- Committing to making London the first Living Wage city, and the Greater London Authority a Living Hours employer, a new scheme that addresses both low wages and insecure working hours
- Building fairer systems to help Londoners settle their immigration status and making English language classes easier to access, as well as tackling xenophobic attitudes towards migrants by implementing more streamlined structures to report hate crimes
- Creating 60,000 good green jobs and apprenticeships and upgrading 100,000 homes to end fuel poverty by 2020
The manifesto was created by a people-powered process involving more than 270 faith, education and community organisation members of London Citizens. They held 10,000 one-to-one conversations with people across London, including some of the most marginalised.
The housing crisis has been one of the issues prioritised by campaigners in response to the amount of time people are spending in temporary accommodation, as well as their often appalling conditions. As of June 2020 (the latest available official statistics), there were 98,300 households in England in temporary accommodation, including 127,240 children. Of this figure, 64 per cent of the total (62,670 households) were placed in temporary accommodation by London local authorities.
Caroline Verdant, a teacher and affordable housing campaigner with Citizens UK who is co-chairing tonight’s event, said: “London Citizens are calling for commitments to fix the pressing issues that affect our vibrant city, including the dire housing situation, low wages, treatment of migrants, climate change, police accountability and violence affecting young people on our streets.
“Unfortunately, many of these problems have only been intensified by the pandemic. From my time spent community organising, I’ve learned that real change is people-powered – Sadiq Khan and Shaun Bailey must listen to communities and this manifesto set democratically by thousands of Londoners.”
Sara, a victim of trafficking and a mum seeking asylum who is being supported by London Citizens, will share her story at the event: “The kitchen we have is shared with six other families.
“Most of the time, the sink is blocked, and the cupboards are full of cockroaches. The hygiene conditions are terrible and unsafe for my family, above all for my daughter. It is affecting our mental health.”
Dwayne Francis, a school pastoral support worker and part of the Metropolitan Police Strategic Advisory and Use of Force boards, said, “I have been stopped and searched several times for simply being out in public, on errands such as going to the Post Office.
“After being wrongly detained during the first lockdown, I began working with the Metropolitan Police to give officers an informed understanding of the communities they serve, because often there is a disconnect.
“There needs to be greater transparency and accountability held towards the police so that marginalised communities, particularly black communities, are treated equally and fairly. I want our young people able to walk the streets of London feeling safe, without the threat of being racially profiled just for existing.”
Read more: Conservatives’ anti-London policies have put Bailey in the dock
Read more: Tory Bailey manages just a single question for Mayor Khan
Read more: Bailey considers scrapping Freedom Pass for under-75s
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