Last week I was delighted to see my Twitter feed filled with people celebrating International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. More than 130 countries around the world held events to recognise this special day.
But despite the growing dialogue around homophobia and transphobia, sadly the number of crimes committed against lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) people in London has risen significantly.
And though Boris Johnson is said to be ‘committed to tackling hate crimes in all its forms’, he needs to significantly up his efforts in his final year as mayor if we are to eliminate these horrendous acts.
Figures from the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) show that since 2012 transphobic hate crime has grown by 72 per cent. Meanwhile, last year alone saw the number of homophobic hate crimes reported in London rise by 20 per cent, with over 100 incidents reported every month. Not only are these figures very alarming, it deeply saddens me to see people being attacked because of who they are.
Boris Johnson once said that he wanted London ‘to be the safest global city on earth’. If he is to achieve this aim he needs to place tackling homophobic hate crime amongst his top priorities. Only by doing so will Londoners have the confidence to report these crimes, safe in the knowledge that the police will have the capacity to respond appropriately to their needs.
The mayor’s Police and Crime Plan acknowledges that levels of hate crime are high and there remains a significant issue with under reporting. I welcome the mayor’s plan to appoint designated Hate Crime liaison officers in every borough.
Dedicated officers, working with LGBT communities, have huge potential to improve public confidence, which in turn could see more people reporting hate crime. Boris Johnson set 2016 as his deadline to appoint these officers in every London borough, and I’m going to be pushing him to make sure he delivers.
Boris Johnson talks the talk when it comes to eliminating hate crime, but his delivery is somewhat patchy. In December, the Mayor’s Hate Crime Reduction Strategy for London was published following discussions with the Crown Prosecution Service and Met Police. The Strategy aims to improve public confidence and increase reporting of hate crime. And whilst it contains 29 actions points set out to achieve just that, with no timetable for delivery it’s very unclear whether we will see any positive results any time soon.
The mayor can pay all the lip service he has to tackling hate crime, but unless the police have the correct resources their chances of eliminating these abhorrent offences will be limited. To improve their chance of success, it’s imperative that police officers receive the appropriate training to help carry out action against hate crime perpetrators and provide support to victims of hate crime.
With £800 million worth of cuts expected over the next few years, there is a risk that their efforts will be significantly undermined. It is the mayor’s responsibility to ensure that these cuts do not fall too heavily on any particular group.
We live in, arguably, the most diverse city in the world. It is difficult to comprehend that homophobic and transphobic hate crimes are still inflicted on members of our community.
Boris Johnson has just one year left to serve as mayor. This is his opportunity to tackle hate crime. This is his opportunity to show he is more than just empty words. I sincerely hope he does not let LGBT Londoners down.
The annual reshuffle of the London Assembly is complete.
At its Annual Meeting last week, all Assembly Members present voted for new leadership in what will be an important year for City Hall as it gears up for next May’s London Mayor and Assembly elections.
Jennette Arnold OBE AM was confirmed as the new Chair of the London Assembly.
Chair of the London Assembly, Jennette Arnold OBE AM said:
“In this new year, as we approach the Assembly and Mayoral Elections in May 2016, we must remain focussed on our key role and what more we can do for London.
“Our job is to make sure that everyone in the capital gets the value for money and the transparency they deserve. We provide Londoners with the reassurance that back-room deals, under-the-table tactics and simple bad business decisions are not allowed to happen. After all we are elected to hold the Mayor and his functional bodies to account.”
Click here to view Jennette Arnold OBE AM Acceptance Speech.
The Mayor of London has announced that tube station ticket offices across Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest will close from March 2015, alongside huge cuts to staffing levels. Despite Boris Johnson’s election pledge not to close any of the tube network’s ticket offices, it was announced last week that all of North East London’s ticket offices will be closed by December 2015, resulting in hundreds fewer tube staff in stations.
The closures timeline announced by TfL means that the process for closing the ticket offices in 14 stations in Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest will start in March next year. The closures will also see almost 900 staff cut from the tube stations. Jennette Arnold OBE has expressed particular concern about the impact the staff cuts will have on disabled and elderly passengers.
Despite the reduced staff service planned for tube stations, fares are once again due to go up just a month before the closures start, this will mean fares have risen 40% since Boris Johnson became Mayor.
More people than ever are using the tube network yet Boris Johnson’s cuts will mean hundreds fewer staff there to help passengers. It is outrageous that just a month after Londoners face another round of fare rises, Boris Johnson plans to cut the service they are offered. It’s a real case of the Mayor asking Londoners to pay more and get less in return.
This fight isn’t about whether staff are based in ticket offices or on platforms, it’s about whether there are enough staff overall to provide customers with a good service, particularly the elderly and disabled and, also, tourists and visitors to London.
Before he was elected Boris Johnson promised voters that he would not close any of the capital’s ticket offices, now he is set to axe them all. Londoners will have to ask how much the Mayor’s word is really worth.
The following tube stations in Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest will see their ticket offices close:
|Borough||Station||Line||Ticket Office||Works to start between (2015)||Duration of work|
|Hackney||Manor House||Piccadilly||Manor House||Mar||1 month|
|Islington||Highbury & Islington||Victoria||Highbury & Islington||Mar||3 months|
|Islington||Old Street||Northern||Old Street||Apr – Jun||1 month|
|Islington||Tufnell Park||Northern||Tufnell Park||Apr – Jun||1 month|
|Islington||Holloway Road||Piccadilly||Holloway Road||Jul – Sep||1 month|
|Islington||Angel||Northern||Angel||Oct – Dec||1–3 months|
|Islington||Archway||Northern||Archway||Oct – Dec||1 month|
|Islington||Arsenal||Piccadilly||Arsenal||Oct – Dec||1 month|
|Islington||Caledonian Road||Piccadilly||Caledonian Road||Oct – Dec||1 – 3 months|
|Islington||Farringdon||Circle||Farringdon (Main)||Oct – Dec||1 month|
|Waltham Forest||Leyton||Central||Leyton||Apr – Jun||1 month|
|Waltham Forest||Blackhorse Road||Victoria||Blackhorse Road||Jul – Sep||1 month|
|Waltham Forest||Leytonstone||Central||Leytonstone||Jul – Sep||1 month|
|Waltham Forest||Walthamstow Central||Victoria||Walthamstow Central||Jul – Sep||3 months|
The full timetable for ticket office closures is available here.
The A1 Highbury Corner Bridge is going to be replaced as part of the Road Modernisation Plan. Transport for London (TfL) are doing this to ensure the bridge is safe and to safeguard against unplanned weight restrictions or closures in the future.
The Road Modernisation Plan is the biggest investment for a generation, consisting of hundreds of projects to transform junctions, bridges, tunnels and pedestrian areas. Working with London’s boroughs it will make our roads safer and more reliable, and London will be a better place in which to live, work and travel.
Work to replace Highbury Corner Bridge has already begun and will continue until early 2017. TfL also plan to transform the gyratory immediately after the works to replace the bridge have finished. TfL will consult on the proposed improvements next year, and you will have the opportunity to comment.
The existing crossing outside Highbury & Islington station was closed for a week from 10 November 2014, and will close again from 6 January 2015 until the project is completed. A temporary pedestrian crossing has been built about 50m north of the existing crossing and will be available throughout the project.
Two bus stops (stop A northbound and stop B southbound) have also been moved approximately 50m north along Holloway Road.
TfL has removed the traffic island outside the station so that we can rearrange traffic lanes and keep traffic flowing safely. TfL plans to keep one lane of traffic open each way throughout the works and maintain pedestrian access. A cycle route will be in place, although at times a signed diversion route will apply.
Most of the work will take place Monday to Friday 08:00 – 18:00, and Saturday 08:00 – 13:00. Some work will have to take place overnight, but TfL will do their best to keep noise to a minimum.
Road closures: Highbury Station Road and Highbury Crescent
Highbury Station Road (east of Swan Yard) will be closed from the end of 2014 and Highbury Crescent (between Highbury Terrace and Highbury Place) will be closed from January 2015. Both roads will be closed for the duration of the works. This will enable bike racks to be moved from the station forecourt to Highbury Station Road, and equipment storage and workers’ cabins to be placed at Highbury Crescent, which is the road between the playing fields.
Cyclists will not be able to use the right turn from Holloway Road into Highbury Place. Instead, they will be directed to use a temporary cycle lane that will run past the works, then via Corsica Street and Calabria Road to Highbury Place.
Highbury & Islington station: Old Post Office demolition
The empty Post Office building needs to be demolished, and TfL expects to start work during the week of 5 January. TfL will make every effort to minimise the impact of noise and dust during demolition (January – February 2015).
The footpaths next to the old Post Office will remain open, although hoardings around the demolition site will make the footpaths narrower. This might create some crowding at busy times, impacting journeys in and out of the station.
Find out more
A public information session is being held on Wednesday 3 December 2014 (16:00 to 20:00), Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, London N1 2XD (just set back from Upper Street). The information boards from the meeting will be available at Central Library, 2 Fieldway Crescent, London N5 1PF from 4 December until early January 2015.
Visit www.tfl.gov.uk/highbury-corner for updates about the bridge replacement.
Analysis has shown that fire brigade response times have gone up in over 370 London wards since the Mayor forced through the closure of 10 London fire stations in January this year. Average response times for London have increased from 5:18 to 5:30 for the first fire engine response with the second response time also increasing from 6:28 to 6:51.
Initial analysis of the figures provided to Assembly Members show that Londoners in 3 Hackney wards and 3 Waltham Forest wards also now have to wait more than the six-minute target time before help arrives with response times increasing by up to 1 minute 56 seconds in some areas of Hackney; 1 minute 29 seconds in areas on Islington; and 54 seconds in Waltham Forest. In Hackney, Kingsland fire stations was closed, as was Clerkenwell fire station in Islington, and Waltham Forest had 3 fire engines removed from its fire service. In total response times have increased in 13 out of 19 Hackney wards, 10 out of 16 Islington wards and 11 out of 20 Waltham Forest wards.
Since the fire station closures in January which also saw 14 fire engines removed from service, a total of 37 London wards have seen first response times increase by over a minute compared with 2012/13 data. The number of areas where response times have increased shows that despite assurances from the Mayor, his cuts to the fire service have increased the threat to public safety.
The figures also include areas where 13 additional fire engines have been removed in order to cover potential strikes, further degrading response times. I have called for these appliances to be returned outside of strike periods to ensure full cover across the capital.
Fires can take hold in seconds that’s why any increase in response times can be so dangerous. As a result of Boris Johnson’s decision to close ten fire stations and with the removal of a further 13 fire engines, even when they are not needed for strike cover, we have seen response times rise in over half of the capital’s wards including significant increases in Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest.
Londoners will be deeply concerned that since the closures it could take significantly longer for a fire engine to reach their home. These latest figures show is that in most of London’s wards it will now take longer to get to fires than it did last year, that is unacceptable.
The Mayor has an important duty to protect the public. He needs to ask himself whether closing ten fire stations and removing 27 fire engines is really the best way to achieve that. Given the jump in response times since the fire station closures, it is very fortunate that we have not seen an increase in serious incidents as a result.
A breakdown of the latest London Fire Service response time data can be found here.
In January the Mayor forced through the closure of ten London fire stations against widespread opposition: Belsize, Bow, Clerkenwell, Downham, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, Silvertown, Southwark, Westminster and Woolwich. As part of these closures 14 fire appliances were removed from service. Subsequently, a further 13 fire appliances have been removed from service to act as cover in case of any strike action.
In September 2013, I was contacted by a 17-year-old girl. Along with her mum and her four siblings, she had just been evicted from her home in London. Due to the increasing number of people being declared homeless and the demands on housing stock, she and her family were left with no choice but to move in with the father, a father whom the mother had walked out on because he beat her and her young children.
For her own safety, the young 17-year-old refused to move in with her father and instead made her bed on the floor of a friend’s bedroom; in the shop of an auntie; and, tragically, the back of any night buses that she could get on. As a result, she dropped out of college, went cap in hand to friends and extended family members for food parcels and became ill worrying about her mother and younger siblings who had been forced to move back in with an abusive father. After months of hard work and finding several temporary solutions through the charity sector, we found her a place to call her own through the private-rented sector and she has returned to college and is going onto university. This young girl’s story, while tragic, had a happy ending, but only because she reached out and was able to get support navigating the heavily bureaucratic and punitive process. There are thousands of others who aren’t so lucky, recent figures released by Shelter predict that 90,000 children will be homeless at Christmas this year. Many of these will be as a result of the volatile London housing market, where demand outstrips supply.
In February 2009 Boris Johnson pledged to “end rough sleeping in the capital by 2012”, yet in the Mayor’s own Equality Report he acknowledges that his pledge to address homelessness has failed. Research shows that homelessness has increased every year at an alarming rate under Boris Johnson’s mayoralty. In 2013/14, 3,473 more people slept rough than in the year before he was elected in 2008.
The fact that Boris commissioned a project aimed at stopping people spending more than one night on the streets shows that he is aware that there is an issue, but the ever-increasing figures show that, once again, his pledge has failed, with the figure growing since the project was first formed in 2008.
A failing Mayoralty is compounded by the Government’s change to welfare reform, which has also led to an increase in rough sleeping and homelessness in London. In particular the increase in private sector rents and reduced Local Housing Allowance entitlement has made it difficult for some renters to meet private sector rents in London. Furthermore, private landlords are even more reluctant to accept those claiming Local Housing Allowance. The Department for Work and Pensions carried out research in June 2012, which showed that one-third of landlords currently letting to Local Housing Allowance claimants have either decided to no longer let to benefit claimants or are seriously considering no longer letting to them because of the reforms. This all leads to an increased demand on the third sector to bridge the gap left by a faltering and significantly-reduced public sector. It’s really sad to see rough sleeping and homelessness charities that have been badly affected by government cuts.
I challenged Boris at Mayor’s Question Time this week about this, asking him why, for instance, TfL have cut all their outreach workers that work with homeless people on night buses and I’m pleased that he has agreed to look into this.
His reply is complacent and disappointing. The young 17-year-old girl who came to me was using TfL buses as a place to sleep at night, and while she now has a place to call home, without wider political will and public funding to address the root causes of homelessness, we are left firefighting against an impossible force.
Christmas is next month and I dread to think about the number of Londoners that will be sleeping rough because they have nowhere to turn. One homeless young person is one too many. 90,000 is a national scandal. The Mayor and his millionaire colleagues who rule Westminster should be ashamed.
 ‘Boris Johnson plans to end rough sleeping in London by 2012’, Local Government Executive, 13 February 2009
 ‘Private landlords turning backs on benefits tenants’, Inside Housing, 15 June 2012
A unpublished Greater London Authority report suggests that Boris Johnson is considering a 90% cut to funding to youth and education schemes.
The fact that Boris Johnson would even consider cuts of 90% to schemes designed to help some of London’s most vulnerable young people tells you everything you need to know about his cavalier and uncaring approach to governing.
Projects to increase apprenticeships and support for people to stay on at school may seem like optional extras to Boris Johnson but for many young people they make a world of difference, helping them to get on in an increasingly competitive jobs market.
Boris Johnson may be focused on his next job in Parliament but he has a duty to responsibly see out his term working for all Londoners. These cuts however suggest more a policy of scorched earth, drastically cutting funding to important projects and leaving his successor to pick up the pieces.
Labour London Assembly Member Jennette Arnold OBE has today called for an investigation into reports that Metropolitan police officers have been issued with arrest and stop and search targets. Mrs Arnold’s call follows a Channel 4 investigation which found that officers in one London borough had been issued with targets which she argued would disproportionately impact upon BAME communities and result in an increased breakdown of trust in the police.
The Channel 4 report alleged that leaked documents had shown that officers in one London borough were “expected to arrest at least two people every month, as well as to stop and search at least four. They were also ordered to issue at least one penalty notice or get a case to charge stage and to make a minimum of four entries in the force’s intelligence database.” Under questioning from Ms Arnold at today’s London Assembly Police and Crime Committee Assistant Met Commissioner Craig Mackey denied the reports and said the Met was “absolutely clear” that targets of this kind should not be used.
Despite consistent denials from the Met, this is the third time in the last year that they have been accused of implementing arrest and stop and search targets. Ms Arnold is now calling for a full investigation to get to the bottom of the reports and to help reassure the public that officers are not carrying out unnecessary stop and searches to hit artificial targets.
Speaking after the Committee meeting, London Assembly Labour Group Equalities Spokesperson, Jennette Arnold OBE said:
“The allegations arising from Channel 4’s investigation are deeply concerning. All the evidence shows that stop and search disproportionately impact on minority communities, if targets are being set for their use that is going to have a big impact on trust in the police within those communities.
“Whilst the Assistant Commissioner’s reassurances are welcome, we must be clear that a return to the bad old days of stop and search targets will not be tolerated.
“This is the third time this year that serious concerns have been raised about stop and search targets which could do irreparable harm to community relations in the capital. What we need to see now is an investigation to get to the bottom of these reports and ensure that police officers, whether at a local or central level, are not being issued with arrest and stop and search targets.”
Analysis of the latest figures from the Skills Funding Agency by London Assembly Member Jennette Arnold OBE, has shown that the number of people in Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest starting apprenticeships has fallen for the second year running. The figures have cast major doubt on Boris Johnson’s ability to fulfil his election pledge to deliver 250,000 apprenticeships by 2016.
The provisional figures show that only 38,550 apprenticeships were started Londonwide in the 2013/14 academic year, down 6,520 on last year’s numbers. In Hackney the overall number of apprenticeshipsstarted dropped by 120 last year from 1,180 in 2012/13 to 1,060 in 2013/14; in Islington the numbers dropped from 890 in 2012/13 to 730 in 2013/14; and in Waltham Forest the numbers dropped from 1,710 in 2012/13 to 1,570 in 2013/14. This is the second year in a row in which the number of apprenticeship starts has fallen.
In June this year the Londonwide Local Enterprise Partnership stated that the capital would need to increase the number of apprentices by 19% each year if it is to hit the Mayor’s target. Despite that warning, London now has the second lowest apprenticeship start rate in the UK with only the North East lagging behind it. By contrast the North West saw almost double London’s number of apprenticeship starts.
Jennette Arnold OBE AM, Labour London Assembly Member for Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest, said:
“It is deeply worrying that for the second year running the number of apprenticeshipsstarted across Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest has fallen, making it clearer than ever that Boris Johnson’s target is not going to be met.
“Good quality apprenticeships are vital to getting our young people the skills, training and expertise they need to succeed in the jobs market; particularly in a city as competitive as London.
“Last year’s fall in apprenticeships was a clear signal that the Mayor needed to do more to encourage companies to take on apprentices and work closely with local councils, yet little appears to have been done and we have now seen two years of falls in the number of apprenticeships being started. Boris Johnson’s inability to get more businesses signed up for apprenticeships is not only leaving London falling behind the rest of the country, but letting down the young Londoners who are desperately seeking these kind of opportunities. It is important to distinguish the Mayor’s work from that of local Councils, who are all working very hard on their own merits to secure apprenticeships for young Londoners, but no matter how hard Councils and others try, without the clout and influence of the Mayor, and without him pulling his weight then we’re not going to hit our target. I urge Mayor Johnson to work harder on securing good apprenticeship opportunities for young Londoners and challenge him not to make it a hat-trick of year-on-year decreases in the number of apprenticeships being offered.”
The number of apprenticeships started by region:
|Full Year||Full Year||
|Yorkshire and The Humber||64,200||59,900|
|East of England||45,820||46,220||39,870|
The London Enterprise Panel Skills and Employment Working Group, Apprenticeships Update can be found here.