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Shaun Bailey: Rent “controls” will make a bad situation worse. It’s time to build.

Shaun Bailey is a member of the London Assembly and the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London

Don’t be fooled.

That’s my message to people who will read about Sadiq Khan’s rent policy – expected to be unveiled this week – and be tempted by it.

Because, on the surface, it sounds good, doesn’t it? Most of us living in London are feeling the squeeze and could use some relief.

But here’s the thing: the Mayor can’t actually deliver his policy. He even admitted so in 2016:

“I have no plans to introduce rent controls, nor the powers to do so.”

And we should be glad for that, because rent controls don’t work. They’re false hope peddled by politicians who don’t want do the hard work of building the homes that Londoners, especially young people, desperately need.

Now, if the criticism were simply that rent controls are ineffective, it would be one thing. But they will actually take our bad situation and make it worse. There’s a reason economist and housing expert Assar Lindbeck once called rent controls “the most effective technique presently known to destroy a city – except for bombing”. Even noted inequality expert Angus Deaton thinks they’re bad news.

And while it’s true a fraction of those already in private rental accommodation do see some benefit, over the longer term, private landlords are driven out of the market – reducing supply – while those who remain put less investment into their properties, lowering the quality of the flats on offer. Does London really want to be a place, like New York, where people scour the obituaries hoping to find a rent-controlled flat?

If rent controls don’t work, why is a smart man like Khan choosing to front them?

The three answers are: failure, popularity, and cynicism.

No matter how much Khan tries to spin his success in building homes – his ‘first priority’ when campaigning in 2016 – by any metric, his record is one of failure. The Mayor was granted almost £5 billion to build 116,000 affordable homes by 2022. Now halfway through the programme, City Hall has only started 34,515 homes in the past three years, which is just under 30 per cent of his target.

And then there’s popularity.

The Mayor is now, according to polling, done for City Hall, at his lowest levels of popularity since his election. And funnily enough, the same polling that showed his approval rating slipping into the negatives is the polling that showed rent controls are very popular, with 68 per cent of Londoners saying they would welcome them. Not that Londoners were told the true story of rent controls’ ineffectiveness around the world before they were asked the question, of course.

Which brings us to the Mayor’s cynicism.

Despite acknowledging that he doesn’t have the power to act, the 2019 edition of Khan is now promising the undeliverable.

What’s changed?

Well, other than now having a poor record to defend amidst lower levels of popularity, the Mayor has also developed a well-worn and deeply cynical strategy: blame central government for everything. The Mayor now wants to use rent controls – or rather, the lack of them – to pick yet another fight with the Conservative government.

Indeed, picking a fight instead of getting on with the job has been Sadiq Khan’s only tactic as Mayor, whether on policing, on transport, on the environment, and now on housing. His hands are somehow always tied. “Vote for me, I can’t do anything” is now the official Khan line.

Instead of rooting through his £18 billion budget to cut waste and fund more police – as I did, finding £83 million to fund nearly 2,000 officers – or cancelling his short-sighted fares policy to free up more money for Transport for London, this Mayor would rather take the easy route of slating his political opponents in the hopes that voters won’t notice his poor record.

But a scrap over rent controls would be Khan’s most cynical ploy yet. Not only does he want a barney, he wants one in order to have the powers that would actually make Londoners worse off.

If London is going to remain open – and it should – then the only solution to rising rents and high house prices is to build more homes.

Helping renters should also be a part of a Mayor’s plans, but it should be done through extending tenancies and getting tough with rogue landlords, not driving them out of the business or dissuading new builds with bad policy.

But if all of this feels a bit too academic, or counterintuitive, think of rent controls this way:

If you were sick and went to a doctor who promised you a medicine he didn’t have that would make you worse if you managed to take it, would you trust that doctor? Of course you wouldn’t.

So don’t fall for more of Sadiq Khan lies.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Amal Clooney: Media around the world at risk, blames Trump’s attacks

Westlake Legal Group c5751a99-a6f1-4567-9ea7-b88b6894e51a Amal Clooney: Media around the world at risk, blames Trump’s attacks The Blog President Trump Media London Global Conference for Media Freedom Free Press amal clooney

Amal Clooney, the wife of actor George Clooney, is a human rights lawyer and the U.K. government’s special envoy on media freedom. She delivered a speech at the Global Conference for Media Freedom in London last week where she declared that President Trump vilifies the press to the point that they are vulnerable worldwide. She wasn’t quite bold enough to name-check Trump directly but rest assured she delivered her message loud and clear.

Clooney used a reference to James Madison to make her point. It’s not often that America is referred to as “the country of James Madison”, is it?

“Today, the country of James Madison has a leader who vilifies the media, making honest journalists all over the world more vulnerable to abuse,” Clooney said.

She continued: “With authoritarianism, isolationism and nationalism gaining ground, the relevance of international institutions and respect for intentional norms are seriously in question.”

I do wonder why she felt the need to preface the word “journalists” with “honest”, though.

Listening to this clip from Reuters’ Twitter account, I hear some applause begin to break out. No doubt our European and Canadian betters enjoyed her attack on the American president. The governments of the UK and Canada are working together “to defend media freedom and improve the safety of journalists who report across the world” according to the conference’s website.

She also voiced criticism over what she claims was a less than desirable response from world leaders over the murder of Washington Post columnist and Qatari asset Jamal Khashoggi.

Clooney also used her speech on Wednesday to criticize world leaders for what she described as their “collective shrug” over the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, at the reported behest of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

She was named the Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts – an independent body that will examine legal and policy initiatives that can be adopted to improve media freedom around the world. How lofty. She described the mission of the Panel:

The High Level Panel of Legal Experts brings together leading international experts on media freedom, including judges, lawyers and academics, from all over the world. I look forward to working alongside them to develop and advance legal frameworks that can help to protect media freedom around the world.

The list of lawyers on the Panel though includes some from countries with less than stellar records with freedom of the press. Russia, Colombia, and Turkey, for example, are included. I suggest the legal experts from those countries look into the problems in their own countries before trying to boss around the rest of the world.

Amal Clooney publicly criticized President Trump in December at the United Nations Correspondent Association Awards in New York.

“The U.S. President has given such [autocratic] regimes a green light and labeled the press in this country the ‘enemy of the people,’” she said at the time, according to USA Today.

Clooney is exhibiting behavior that led to the election of Donald Trump in 2016. While defending media freedom is important, her criticism of President Trump, even on the world stage, will fall on deaf ears. Trump doesn’t concern himself with making nice with the press. His way of speaking is what attracted many of his supporters to him in the first place. He isn’t interested in the status quo of any international norms or institutions. Blaming Trump for bad treatment (or worse) of journalists around the world is a stretch even for Mrs. Clooney. Maybe she decided to slam Trump in London after hanging with the Obamas in Italy last month, hosting them at their villa.I wonder if she asked former President Obama exactly what he did to support and defend the freedom of the media. We know he tapped the phones of reporters during his administration.

The post Amal Clooney: Media around the world at risk, blames Trump’s attacks appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group c5751a99-a6f1-4567-9ea7-b88b6894e51a-300x153 Amal Clooney: Media around the world at risk, blames Trump’s attacks The Blog President Trump Media London Global Conference for Media Freedom Free Press amal clooney   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Stephanos Ioannou: Overdevelopment means the traditional London suburbs are under threat

Cllr Stephanos Ioannou is a councillor for Southgate in Enfield. He is studying Public Policy at Kings College London.

It’s not every day you would hear a young person who has hopes of soon getting on to the property ladder, echoing concerns about overdevelopment in one of the most expensive and sought after capitals in the world. But this statement is slowly creeping into the reality of what is happening in our capital, and overdevelopment is beginning to seriously change the suburban parts of London.

The majority of applications I see coming through Enfield Council’s planning department have the justified intent of elaborating and improving the current situation that families find themselves in. Whether it be a simple loft conversion, rear or back extension, or even the garage conversion, I mostly see these applications as positive contributions to the Southgate area, where more and more families are moving to reap the benefits of great schools and local services. However, where things begin to get complex is with the applications that involve changing the whole character of an area, and therefore setting a blueprint for future developments in the area.

I am talking specifically about an application that was received to build a 17 storey building in the heart of Southgate, that will bring with it 200 new homes for families and professionals. At first glance, I was positive about these proposals but realised that residents in the community, and particularly neighbouring residents would be quite negative towards these proposals. This is because of the skyline effect, and most importantly the impact on local services and local infrastructure for the Southgate area. In taking another case, we have in neighbouring Barnet and Finchley Central the plans outlined by Transport for London and the Mayor of London of a new development that will involve 600 new homes, and a twenty-seven storey building that will change the face of central Finchley for good. Finally, we can bear witness to the ‘Save West Hampstead’ campaign that is focusing on stopping council led over-development by bringing together residents association across the borough to fight against high tower block plans.

With the examples given, it’s clear there is a correlation happening across the London boroughs with overdevelopment. Unlike before, councils with the assistance of developers are more willing to start plans with an extraordinary level of floors attached to tower blocks, essentially going in ‘high and tough’ and slowly but gently reducing the number of floors, still to a level that is mostly unacceptable to most existing residents in the community.

Buildings in cities should not be designed in isolation, but in relation to the places in which they are set, whether these are views to and from world heritage sites or the fabric of adjoining streets. Together with its present and future neighbours, new development should make accessible public spaces that are a pleasure to inhabit – the effects of tall buildings are as important at ground level as they are in the sky. And the larger and more prominently placed a building is, the greater the care that should be taken over its design.

Nobody could go to the places already being shaped by towers – Elephant and Castle, Vauxhall or Stratford High Street, a discus-throw from the Olympic Park – and say that these are great places to linger, or that the tall buildings now rising there enhance the experience. Images of these places in the future, when further skyscrapers will jostle for attention, suggest more of the same. New urban zones are being created with no overall idea of how the parts contribute to the whole, of the places that are being made at their base.

Rather, new London tower design tends to go out of its way to be as assertive and architecturally antisocial as possible. Strata SE1 in Elephant and Castle, with its slashed rooftop, randomised aluminium cladding patterns and bulbous form, seems to be setting out to be as hostile as possible to any future neighbour. In Stratford the fashion is for arbitrary clashing colours – another idea that kills the prospect of making coherent public places.
Nor, when you get close to a building such as St George’s Tower in Vauxhall, would you say that you are in the presence of quality. Its details clash and its cladding looks cheap and plasticky. There is no great reason to believe that these surfaces will age well. Images of proposed future projects, such as the Quill in Bermondsey and 1 Merchant Square in Paddington, suggest little improvement in the future.

Combined with frantic attempts at individuality is a profound sameness. These projects tend to use the same type of cladding and floor layouts. It is sometimes said that London needs skyscrapers to make an “iconic” statement on the world stage, but these developments make it look less distinctive. And if the city tries to engage in the global race for height, it can only lose. It is outpaced by the likes of Shanghai and Dubai, the height of whose Burj Khalifa is 2.7 times that of the Shard.

Overall, the point here is that tall buildings do not define nor improve an area just by simply being constructed. The traditional semi-detached houses of north London and the leafy suburbs are things you cannot achieve as much as you try with tall tower blocks.

Conservation areas are areas of ‘special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’. This imposes a duty on the council, in exercising its planning powers, to pay special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of the area.

However what is said will happen on paper is different from the reality taking place across parts of suburban north London. Take for example the neglect by Tfl over Southgate Tube Station, where the 1930’s structure of Christopher Holden has been left to rust and decay over the years and still no work has taken place to preserve this heritage. Take also the neglect by Enfield Council to preserve existing areas around Southgate Green. I am sure that this is happening across other London boroughs too and I would invite other councillors to explain the situation in their parts- but overall my message is that we should be preserving our areas of heritage and not succumb to the overdevelopment that some parties are trying to push through rigorously.

In preserving heritage, councils can take action by educating local school pupils about points of interest in their areas, or even driving investment in local heritage sites. Research published by Historic England shows that, in 2015, domestic and international heritage-related visits generated £16.4 billion in expenditure in England, contributing £2 billion to the Exchequer in tax revenue. It seems logical therefore that councils should weigh up the impact and consequences of building dense tower block housing, or investing in existing conservation areas thus boosting the local economy.

Slowly we will see changes to the leafy suburban parts of London, being replaced by tall ten-plus storey blocks of flats that will be branded as ‘affordable’ so they say, but in reality are a quick buck for developers and the council who will generate council tax revenue, with no guarantee they will be reinvested back into that specific community.

Here in Enfield, all Section 106 funds that are generated from developments across the borough and being streamlined into the Meridian Water scheme, instead of being reinvested directly back into the communities that have seen these extraordinary developments. With that said, the planning department are trying to reassure us councillors that funds will be requested from the developers further than just for Meridian Water, but this will only be voluntary on their behalf. I am sure that developers would rather retain as much profit as possible, in comparison to giving more funds-especially voluntary ones.

London and its landscape are changing, and with that communities are battling against a change to their once characteristic neighbourhoods. Councils and developers have scant regard for the existing residents, and more so for the conservation areas they are situated in.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Suella Braverman: What Johnson learned from a London school amidst deprived communities

Suella Braverman is a former DexEU Minister, and is MP for Fareham. She was Chairman of Governors, Michaela Community School, 2013-2017

312AD? Or was it 313AD? Forget questions on Brexit: I know this is what many of us spend hours pondering: what was the date of the conversion of the Holy Roman Empire to Christianity?

It’s a question that Boris Johnson debated when he visited the free school which I co-founded in 2015. The 12 year old pupil at Michaela Community School was adamant that it was 313AD. Johnson – with his Oxford degree in Classics – was convinced of 312AD. A subsequent Google search confirmed that the Mayor of London was indeed wrong, and our Year 8 pupil correct on this point of Roman history – The Edict of Milan being the authoritative source.

Such was Johnson’s very gracious admission later that day when he talked about the pioneering teaching methods that are being deployed at Michaela. For, as one of the early free schools, Michaela is a beacon of empowerment and aspiration in Wembley, a community marked by social deprivation and under-achievement. It’s my home town and, had Michaela been around when I was a child, there is no doubt that I would have attended.

Michaela intakes generally consist of approximately 50 per cent children on Pupil Premium, 10 per cent eligible for Special Education Needs support and over 50 per cent with English as a second language. In some years, a third of pupils arrived with a reading age below their chronological age, or two thirds below the national expectation in maths. Some of our children have been under child protection, in care or excluded from previous schools.

But our robust knowledge-based curriculum, coupled with high standards on behaviour and discipline, is the way forward, as the ex-Mayor himself attested. He said this of Michaela: “I saw the way forward for our city and our country. I have never seen any other single institution in London that was so dramatically transforming the problems of our society. I’ve never seen any single programme that would reduce inequality and encourage social mobility.”

We opened the school in 2014 and, after much opposition from left-wing ideologues, proved the critics wrong. Thanks to the freedoms allowed to these schools, Michaela was rated outstanding by OFSTED in 2017. Seeing some children make two, three, four or even five years progress in reading and maths in the space of a single year, or others metamorphose from out-of-control and excluded into studious and respectful has only been possible thanks to greater autonomy enjoyed by teachers, like our inspirational Headmistress, Katharine Birbalsingh. Children enjoy a bully-free environment, aim high and their teachers have instilled in them perseverance and stoicism. Just as Johnson did, visitors from all over the country marvel at what they see.

How is this working? Johnson summed it up perfectly: ‘These children are learning natural self-esteem that comes from genuine academic achievement. They are learning not only how to achieve and use knowledge but they are learning to want to achieve. They are learning aspiration…With discipline, competition and the acquisition of knowledge, they are putting on a suit of armour and bit by bit becoming stronger and intellectually resilient to take on anything that life throws at them.’

That is why Johnson’s commitment to increase spending on our primary and secondary schools is a real reflection of his passion for social justice. The extra £4.6bn per year into our schools that he will deliver will help to re-energise them. Under his plans, primary and secondary school pupils will receive more resources than they do today. This is a welcome step-change in education funding which will help break down barriers in our society.

If we want to restore trust in the power of what Conservative policies can achieve we need to deliver Brexit by October 31st, and it is only Boris Johnson who will do this. If we really want to tackle that poverty of aspiration, let’s make him Prime Minister. If we want to create a nation where it truly doesn’t matter what your parents did, or which side of town you came from, but where you have learnt to want to achieve and are resilient enough to take on what life throws at you, Boris Johnson is the man to make that a reality for our children.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Howard Flight: Why the time has come for drug legalisation

Lord Flight is Chairman of Flight & Partners Recovery Fund, and is a former Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Confessions of drug use in their youth by politicians raises the case for controlled legalisation of drugs – at least of soft drugs, if not yet of hard drugs. Such drugs are already legal to some extent in 30 countries – largely in Eastern Europe, Latin America, Croatia, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Portugal: in Latin America, in Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico and Jamaica. To this must be added Cambodia, where all drugs are used publicly and legally: it is considered the country with the most freedom when it comes to drugs.

The newest country to take the legalisation path is Canada, which has brought in complex new laws legalising cannabis. It has been legalised throughout the country, though the rules will vary amongst the ten Canadian provinces. Even the mandated minimum age for consumption varies between the ages of 18 and 21. Nova Scotia, with a population of 940,000, will have 12 stores run in conjunction with the province’s Liquor Board; but British Columbia, with a population of 4.6 million, will have only one store. In Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, it will initially be available only online.

Canada’s intention is to show the rest of the world that cannabis legalisation is a good thing. Like the UK, Canada has spent a quarter of a century discussing this territory and advocating legalisation. The Canadian measures legalise the industry, but criminalise a lot of the aspects around the use of cannabis: only purchases from officially recognised stores will be legal; giving marijuana to a minor will remain illegal. In Ontario, people will be free to smoke or vape marijuana anywhere just as they are allowed to consume tobacco, but elsewhere, public consumption remains illegal and subject to a fine.

Mexico arguably provided the strongest case for legalisation. Against the background of Mexico having relatively high drug abuse, the black market and the drug cartels caused substantial criminal problems, and led to a large number of deaths. Drugs were legalised in 2009, and a lot of the legalised drugs are from hard drugs, including heroin and cocaine. The Government has legalised these drugs, hoping that decriminalisation would help in making Mexico a safer place. This has not yet been as effective as had been hoped.

Similar arguments now apply to London. The growing number of knife deaths are drug cartel-related. Teenagers can earn £45,000 per annum pushing drugs, and if they get knifed – e.g. for acting against their cartel – others are always willing to take their place. The police have an impossible task in trying to enforce the law. My judgement is that a majority of the police favour controlled decriminalisation. Part of the programme should include I.D Cards, which should help fight crime in a wider context.

In the USA, support for legalising marijuana has risen from 32 per cent to 54 per cent over the last nine years. There is an economic and commercial case for legalising. One of the beneficiaries of legalising drugs is the Government. Once drugs can be distributed commercially, tax can be imposed on them in the same way as they are imposed on cigarettes. The potential tax revenues could reach £5 billion.

Legalisation on the streets would also reduce Government police expenditure, saving the costs of seeking to enforce the law on drug prohibition. The cost of court proceedings, prosecutions and the sustenance of inmates incarcerated for unlawful drug use can also be saved. The legalisation of marijuana would also enables many of the sick to reduce their pain.

The arguments against liberalisation are that making drugs more accessible can lead to more people committing more crime. It can also cloud the mind, and can end in crime. Drugs contain chemicals and substances that can cause depression. If individuals are free to buy any drug ‘over the counter’, addiction and depression can result. If drugs become readily available, businesses can commercialise on this and encourage people to buy and become addicted. The results so far from countries which have liberalised have been mixed. The Netherlands has been disappointing. It had been hoped that more people would have ceased consuming drugs.

The arguments for controlled legalisation are in principle more powerful than the arguments against. To achieve a satisfactory out-turn from legalisation, such a programme would clearly need well-disciplined, prescribed distributors; these could be Government stores, or independent stores licenced and closely monitored by government.

As things stand, in large western Cites such as London, the current laws are useless but have created a large criminal and vicious distribution industry. It is difficult to see anything other than legalisation and close Government monitoring thereof being able to address the drug problems.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Almost in Time for Pride Month: The London Zoo Celebrates Gay Mating, Gay Animals, & Gay Parents

Westlake Legal Group gay-penguins-get-over-it-SCREENSHOT-620x346 Almost in Time for Pride Month: The London Zoo Celebrates Gay Mating, Gay Animals, & Gay Parents zsl london zoo zoo nights Uncategorized ronnie and reggie pride month montpellier London LGBT get over it Germany gay penguins Front Page Stories France Featured Story f. stephen dobson England Culture centre for functional and evolutionary ecology Allow Media Exception

[Screenshot from ZSL London Zoo, https://twitter.com/zsllondonzoo/status/1143956634290597888?]


The ZSL London Zoo is letting everyone know that animals are gay.

In celebration of the notion that two penguins are gay, the zoo is giving the whole joint a “Pride makeover.”

On July 5th, in addition to its normal (18+ only) Zoo Night festivities, the London Zoo will teach attendees about gender, mating, and same-sex animal pairings.

From a press release:

On top of Zoo Nights’ packed schedule of activities, visitors will be able to learn about gender and mating in the animal kingdom at a Pride-themed talk, where they’ll discover just how common same-sex pairings are – from penguins and pandas to goats and giraffes. Visitors can check out the Zoo’s pride of lions, enjoy delicious street food from around the world, and score a hole-in-one at the Zoo’s new mini-golf course.

And if that ain’t enough, they’ve designed a special banner for Penguin Beach — home of the touted tuxedoed two:

“Get Over It,” in case you didn’t know, is the slogan for a gay anti-bullying campaign.

The zoo says Ronnie and Reggie — the fabulously homosexual penguin pair — got together in 2014.

They adopted an abandoned egg a year later, sharing parenting duties until the little chick left the nest.

According to the zoo’s website, the two birds “remain as strong as ever and are often found snuggled up in their nest box together.”

Of the 93 penguins living at the facility, the London Zoo claims Ronnie and Reggie aren’t the only ones who are gay:

The duo share their home with 91 other penguins, including fellow same sex couples Nadja and Zimmer and Dev and Martin, as well as one-year-old Rainbow who hatched during Pride celebrations last year and will celebrate her first birthday this weekend.

Who knew nature was so gay, right there in front of everybody, this whole time?

The Zoo may have a bone to pick with some people in France.

As reported by The Telegraph:

Penguins are not gay, despite new evidence of homosexual behaviour in the wild, they are just “same sex flirting” until they find a mate, according to a new study.

The homosexual behaviour of male king penguins has already been noted in zoos.

Now in a new study, scientists have found the evidence of male pairs in the wild. The research found that more than a quarter of the colony in Antarctica were in same sex partners, mostly two males.

In the past, it was claimed that penguins could not discern between the sexes because they looked alike. Male pairs in zoos in the US and Germany have hatched and reared ‘adopted’ chicks.

However, the new study by the Centre for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology in Montpellier, France found that the penguins are only pairing up with other males because they are “lonely.”

There are not enough females in the colony and the males have high levels of testosterone, which drives them to engage in mating displays – even if it is with other males.

Professor F Stephen Dobson, one of the authors of the study published in the journal Ethology, said the number of same sex pairs was actually lower than expected. When the colony was studied over time he found all the ‘gay’ penguins chose a heterosexual partner. A female pair also ‘split up’ to raise an egg with male partner.

What are your thoughts? Please let us all know in the Comments section.

And enjoy information about an all-gay zoo, the superiority of gay dads, furry gay parents having furry gay kids, and hatching rocks in the video below, “Gay Penguins Make the Best Parents.”



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The post Almost in Time for Pride Month: The London Zoo Celebrates Gay Mating, Gay Animals, & Gay Parents appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group gay-penguins-get-over-it-SCREENSHOT-300x168 Almost in Time for Pride Month: The London Zoo Celebrates Gay Mating, Gay Animals, & Gay Parents zsl london zoo zoo nights Uncategorized ronnie and reggie pride month montpellier London LGBT get over it Germany gay penguins Front Page Stories France Featured Story f. stephen dobson England Culture centre for functional and evolutionary ecology Allow Media Exception   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Gareth Bacon: Khan see motorists as a cash-cow – and one he intends to milk for all it is worth

Gareth Bacon is the Leader of the Conservative Group on the London Assembly.

The evidence increasingly suggests that Sadiq Khan is considering the introduction of a London-wide pay as you drive road charge to fix the damage he’s done to Transport for London’s finances. Today I have published the report Highway Robbery: The Case Against Road Pricing in London, which lays out why it is clear that the current Mayor might want to introduce road pricing to London and explains why this would be a huge mistake for London.

During Khan’s mayoralty, TfL’s operational deficit has soared – although short-term cuts helped to avoid it reaching £1 billion last year, it is expected to top £897 million this year – and its debt has climbed to an eye-watering £11 billion. In TfL’s Business Plan Crossrail was meant to be its saviour, with the Mayor putting all his eggs in the basket marked ‘Crossrail will open on time and on budget’, but its delay will cost around £1 billion in lost fares revenue, on top of a whopping £2.8 billion extra to get it built.

This has had a hugely damaging impact on London’s transport network. Over the past three years, Londoners have seen vital Tube upgrades delayed, station improvements put on hold and pro-active road maintenance has been cancelled. The Mayor has even had to cancel his Rotherhithe Bridge vanity project after reluctantly admitting it was unaffordable.

There are a whole host of actions  Khan could take that would contribute towards solving TfL’s money troubles. For example, he could cut costs by taking on the militant transport unions by seeking to ban strikes on the tube, or he could abandon the economic illiteracy of his partial fare freeze which has cost TfL upwards of £640 million in lost income during his mayoralty, or he could end the scandal of offering free travel to friends and partners of TfL employees. But he has done none of these things. Instead, the Labour Mayor appears to be eyeing up London’s motorists for what could be the biggest cash grab by any Mayor in London, ever.

Left-wing politicians have been pushing  Khan to consider road pricing for some time, and earlier this year the Centre for Economics and Business Research investigated the issue and proposed charging motorists 8p per mile in London. Taking this proposal, the average driver in London would be handed an additional £519 bill each year on top of the £731 they currently pay in motoring taxes. The total income to TfL from road pricing in London would reach £1,349,504,000, so it’s easy to see why Khan might be so keen to squeeze more money from London’s motorists.

This would be a significant bill for motorists in London, representing a potential 41.5 per cent increase on the motoring taxes the average London drivers pays. We’ve already seen the damage that rushing the Ultra-Low Emission Zone caused to working people and small businesses. A London-wide road charge would push London’s lowest earners and small businesses off the road entirely.

The Mayor might think he can get away with this politically because he knows it’s the Conservative-voting outer London Boroughs that would be the hardest hit. For example, in my constituency of Bexley and Bromley, the public transport is often so poor that to travel by train between Bexleyheath and Orpington would take 55 minutes despite only being eight miles apart. Khan simply doesn’t understand that in much of London driving isn’t just an option, it’s a necessity.

The Mayor will try to justify this charge by pointing to the end of the government grant to TfL, saying he has no choice but to introduce road pricing. Khan has already tried to prepare the ground by claiming, falsely, that motorists are subsidised by public transport users despite the subsidy given to TfL’s loss-making bus service now reaching £722 million. My report explains how, in reality, the reverse is true.

For too long London’s motorists have been given a bad deal not only by the Mayor of London, but the government. I can readily understand the Government’s reluctance to devolve money to a Mayor who has repeatedly wasted taxpayers’ money. Nevertheless, there is a strong argument for doing so in this case. London-registered vehicles pay around £500 million in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) but the money is spent on roads outside the capital despite 90 per cent of Londoners’ journeys take place entirely on the capital’s roads. In London, there is a cross-party consensus that VED should be devolved to London. Now is the time for the Conservatives to make it happen.

Devolving VED to London would both undermine any attempt by the Mayor to introduce road pricing in London and benefit London’s motorists. The Mayor would like to argue that introducing road pricing is a necessity because it is the only way TfL can afford to properly maintain London’s roads. Devolving VED would undermine this claim. Furthermore, the money should only be handed over on the strict condition that it is used to restore TfL’s pro-active road maintenance budget which the Mayor cancelled to save £200 million a year. It should also be used to restore the Local Implementation Plan (LIP) budget which   Khan has heavily cut, despite explicitly promising not to. LIP funding is vital in helping boroughs improve their transport networks. VED funding must be used to restore it.

This is not to pretend that devolving VED to the Mayor would fully fix the immense damage he’s caused to TfL’s finances, but if done correctly it would start to turn things around without giving him the leeway to waste money on ill-considered vanity projects.

Khan is closer than we think to announcing this policy. He has repeatedly refused to rule out introducing road pricing in London and he recently signed a contract with Capita Business Services Ltd to support existing road charging schemes and “potential future road and infrastructure charging schemes” until 2021. However, he knows that road pricing, if fully understood, would be unpopular in London. By drawing attention to his plans now, my London Assembly colleagues and I hope to put pressure on him to rule out this damaging suggestion. If he won’t do so, at the very least he should be open about his intentions and make clear in his manifesto that he hopes to introduce road pricing should he be re-elected as Mayor. That way Londoners will know that if they wish to avoid having their freedom taxed by being charged for every single mile they drive, they need to elect Shaun Bailey in 2020 and vote Conservative in the GLA elections.

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Chloe Westley: Khan poses, tweets and postures – while London is ravaged by four murders in four days

Chloe Westley is the Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

During the coming weeks, this website will be filled with articles about who should be the next Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister. There will be a fierce battle of ideas between those who would prefer to continue with Mayism, and those who are hoping for change. There will be advocates of a No Deal Brexit, and those who would rather a closer relationship with the EU.

But there is one point that I think all Conservatives can agree on – and that’s the appalling track record of Sadiq Khan’s tenure as Mayor of London.

Last week, four people in London were murdered in four days. This extraordinary tragic set of events sparked cries of outrage at politicians, and particularly the politician who is responsible for dealing with crime in London. The respectful thing for the Mayor to do, would have been to apologise for his lack of action and look into how he could divert more of his £18 billion budget into policing. Instead, Sadiq Khan refused to take responsibility. He claimed that ‘government cuts’ – not his own wasteful spending in other areas – had deprived the Met of the resources needed to tackle crime.

So how hard-pressed for cash is City Hall exactly? Well, somehow the Mayor found £300,000 to put on a pool party, and £20,000 to gift to a 2nd referendum campaign group. Remarkably he also found £200,000 for a flashy new website, £175,000 for a PR campaign on why ‘London is Open’, and £1.7 million for new water fountains. Oh, and of course he miraculously discovered £9 million for new hires and pay rises for City Hall staff, which could have funded 150 police officers.

Not only is Khan wasting taxpayers’ money; he’s also exploiting the office he holds to grandstand on issues which have nothing to do with the job that taxpayers pay him to do. In order to distract from the terrible job he’s doing as Mayor, Khan decides to use his platform to virtue signal about foreign affairs and social issues.

Take this inspirational video for Elle, in which he proudly declares himself a feminist. Or this video interview where he criticises Donald Trump’s domestic policies and says he shouldn’t be welcome in the UK. Or the countless times he’s called for a second referendum.

Now, you may agree with some of his opinions on these issues, but is this relevant to anything that taxpayers actually pay him to deal with? I don’t think Londoners voted for Khan so that he could seek airtime to assert his moral superiority on foreign affairs and social issues. They wanted to elect someone who would focus on improving public services like transport and policing.

Aside from virtue signalling on Twitter, the only thing he’s been able to actually achieve is to introduce a white van tax and banning ‘junk food’ advertising on the tube. Even Faiza Shaheen, a Labour Parliamentary candidate, has recognised that Khan’s van tax will hit poorer families the hardest.

And that ‘junk food’ ad ban turned out to be a ‘pretty much any food’ ban. As industry leaders tried to warn Khan, the definition of ‘junk food’ is so broad that even a bowl of strawberries would be deemed too dangerous for commuters’ eyes. If companies find they are constantly being asked to redesign their advertisements to remove all images of food, they might decide it’s not worth the hassle, resulting in less revenue for TfL. Staying very true to character, both of these policies were about ‘feeling good’ and getting a PR hit – as opposed to ‘doing good’ and thinking about the wider impact on Londoners.

As Khan tweets and tours TV studios to express his disapproval of Trump and Brexit, London suffers. Londoners have suffered through 16 tube strikes, despite Khan pledging that there would be zero strikes under his watch. In the years since Khan was first elected, reported knife crime has increased by 52 per cent, robberies up by 59 per cent, and the homicide rate by 26 per cent.

Compare Khan’s track record with Boris Johnson’s. Delays on the tube went down by around 50 per cent, making it easier for Londoners to get to work on time. And after making the tough decision to give the police greater powers to stop and search those suspected of carrying weapons, the murder rate in London went down by 50 per cent, the crime rate down by 20 per cent.

Londoners have had enough of Khan’s virtue signalling and incompetence. It’s time to put us out of our misery. We need a Mayor who focuses on the job that he or she is paid to do, who puts the needs of residents and taxpayers above the temptation to hand out pay-rises, bonuses and jobs for their mates. We need a Mayor who can take responsibility for problems in London without shifting the blame to central government.

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Extinction Rebellion postpones Heathrow drone protest plan

Westlake Legal Group og-fox-news Extinction Rebellion postpones Heathrow drone protest plan London fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/environment fox-news/world fnc/world fnc cd48d714-95a5-59d1-b8b8-3da5d8c28ebf Associated Press article

The environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion has postponed a plan to shut down London’s Heathrow Airport with drones after it was criticized by politicians and police.

The anti-climate change group said Sunday it would “not be carrying out any actions at Heathrow Airport in June or July this year.”

Details of the group’s plan were leaked last month. British Aviation Minister Charlotte Vere warned that “using drones to deliberately put people’s safety at risk carries a maximum life sentence.”

Extinction Rebellion said the allegation it was willing to endanger people’s lives “is a depressing and predictable smear.”

The group still aims to target the airport, Europe’s busiest, but said it would not fly drones within flightpaths, and would give two months’ notice so travelers could make other plans.

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UK Tories warned not to crown Boris Johnson without a fight

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-551cf6b31f324b4fbe1f2a25aaa8bc32-1 UK Tories warned not to crown Boris Johnson without a fight London fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world fnc/world fnc Associated Press article 671fdc2f-4603-5bdf-ab01-5be20a65ca3e

Candidates seeking to become Britain’s next prime minister are warning that the Conservative Party needs a real contest, rather than a coronation for front-runner Boris Johnson.

Johnson, a former foreign secretary, has a big lead after the first round of voting by Tory lawmakers. On Sunday he received the backing of Esther McVey, one of the candidates eliminated from the race last week.

Six contenders remain, with Johnson by far the favorite. Lawmakers are set to narrow the field this week in a series of elimination votes, with the final two names put to a vote of Conservative members nationwide.

But some have suggested that stage could be skipped if Johnson is too far ahead.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who is in fifth place, says it is important to have “a robust final round.”

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-551cf6b31f324b4fbe1f2a25aaa8bc32-1 UK Tories warned not to crown Boris Johnson without a fight London fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world fnc/world fnc Associated Press article 671fdc2f-4603-5bdf-ab01-5be20a65ca3e   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-551cf6b31f324b4fbe1f2a25aaa8bc32-1 UK Tories warned not to crown Boris Johnson without a fight London fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world fnc/world fnc Associated Press article 671fdc2f-4603-5bdf-ab01-5be20a65ca3e

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