Labour mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan calls for 'Crossrail 3' in Bexley
PUBLISHED: 12:09 16 March 2016 | UPDATED: 12:09 16 March 2016
Mr Khan spoke to the Bexley Times about all things housing and transport
After being invited on board the Back Zac bus last week, the Bexley Times was this week invited to chat with Labour’s mayoral candidate, Sadiq Khan.
Son of a bus driver and a seamstress, Mr Khan grew up on a council estate in Earlsfield, and believes his working class background is helping him gain the support which gives him a slight, current lead over Mr Goldsmith in the polls.
“What has been remarkable in this campaign is the warmth and generosity of people,” he said.
“They see me as a modern Londoner and the fact that my mum made clothes at home and I ran a successful business is appealing to them.
“They see me in them and their lives, and people aren’t being tribal - just because they may have voted Conservative in the past doesn’t mean they’re not willing to listen to my ideas or give me a chance.
“If you work hard, you get a helping hand, that’s the story of London, but today’s Londoner works their socks off and can’t afford to move from a flat into a home.”
The capital’s housing crisis is well-documented, and Mr Khan is keen to solve that problem, although not at the expense of green spaces, after the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) released a report last week revealing development on 50 plots of protected land in greater London.
“London’s housing crisis is now a national emergency that is damaging Britain’s economy and productivity,” Mr Khan said.
“But it’s important we don’t build on the green belt - any new homes must be built on brownfield land.
“There are some people who say the only way to solve the crisis is to build on green spaces but that’s nonsense - there’s so much land available for us to use.”
What Mr Khan really wants to tackle in Bexley, however, is transport, and has been vocal about introducing a four-year fare freeze on TfL services across London.
With no tube network in the borough, there has long been a suggestion that Bexley is somewhat isolated from the rest of the city, and while Mr Khan hasn’t ruled out the possibility of extending the underground to the south-east, he says there are other ways he wants to help residents in getting around the capital.
He said: “Extending tube services on the Bakerloo line is an option, and something we want to look into, but it’s important to improve on the transport that’s already available.
“If I use the tube, I can change as many times as I want until I get to my destination, but if I have to take two or three buses I get charged each time.
“So I want to introduce The Hopper, which would allow Bexley residents to hop on an unlimited number of buses for a 60 minute period, and provide excellent value for money.
“We’ve heard a lot about Crossrail, which connects the east and west, and Crossrail 2 to connect the north and south but what about a Crossrail 3 to serve suburban areas like Bexley?
“I think that would be beneficial and I have called on the chancellor to recognise this.”
With rail firm Southeastern so often in the line of criticism, Mr Khan is united with his Tory opposite number in wanting Transport for London (TfL) to take over services in the borough.
“People in Bexley are being ripped off by this consistently poor service,” he said.
“The Conservatives have done nothing to sort it out and I want TfL to take control and provide a more efficient service that is good value for money.
“If you look around the world, the best cities thrive on having good public transport links.
“If we took over commercial trains I could guarantee the people of Bexley will receive a better service.”
Mr Khan also pledged to assess planned river crossings at Belvedere and Gallions Reach, which despite receiving “overwhelming support” according to TfL’s consultation, has concerned local residents who believe the areas don’t have the necessary infrastructure.
“It’s true, the roads can’t cope, and you’ve got to work with residents to get the right deal,” he said.
“There are questions to be asked - whether we need more river crossings and whether a bridge or tunnel would be better for those areas, and it’s definitely something I’ll explore.”
The Mayor of London elections will be held on May 5.