Where to begin with a reflection of 2016? In many ways it has been a year of two halves for Londoners.
The first gave us a new Mayor in Sadiq Khan, who has already started to deliver on his progressive manifesto. The second half gave us Brexit. The latter has undoubtedly been a key issue here at City Hall, where Assembly Members have grappled with what Brexit means and what it will mean for Londoners.
Our job is to scrutinise the Mayor, and all aspects of the governance of London; of which leaving the European Union will have an impact. The Labour colleagues on the Assembly and I have therefore questioned the Mayor, Deputy Mayors and partner organisations on everything from the effect of Brexit on EU citizens in London, to the cost of Brexit to our National Health Service. In uncertain times, I am honoured to be an Assembly Member navigating these important issues for London and representing my constituents in Lambeth and Southwark.
As Labour’s Transport lead at the Assembly, I am pleased to see the achievements made in this area since May. The Mayor announced plans to rid London’s roads of dangerous Heavy Goods Vehicles, and is working on plans to sort out London’s toxic air. The Night Tube has been realised on several lines so far, and Southwark residents will benefit from the new pedestrian and cycling crossing between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf; the result of lots of hard work from local councillors and the local Labour MP. All this has been achieved whilst freezing TfL pay as you go fares and with the introduction of The Hopper bus ticket, which makes a huge difference to the cost of getting around for Londoners.
But there is more work to be done; Thousands of Southwark residents rely on Southeastern and Southern as part of their daily commute. The Government’s inaction on rail devolution has led to Southern being rated amongst the worst service in the country. Looking at the transformation of the North London Line to the London Overground; new trains, revamped and fully staffed stations & customer service scores that have gone from the worst in London to the best. The Overground has been a welcome addition to parts of Southwark, especially given the comparable lack of Underground services south of the river. Assembly Members agreed a unanimous motion calling on Mr Grayling MP to reconsider his decision and I will continue to push for transfer of failing franchises to TfL.
I am proud of the achievements a Labour administration has made since the election. However, I am looking forward to the New Year, and the challenges and opportunities it presents. I would like to wish Southwark residents a Merry Christmas, and hope 2017 is a healthy and happy year for all.