Boris Johnson's end of term report

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So what exactly has our not-so-new Mayor been doing since he took over at City Hall? As Boris Johnson reaches his hundredth day in office, Time Out rates his progress and gives him a report card. Does he deserve a gold star, or is it time to bring out the cane?

  • Boris Johnson's end of term report

    Boris Johnson © Rob Greig

  • Crime

    Boris began the term bursting with enthusiasm. But his attention to detail has been lazy, in particular with the appointment of Ray Lewis (his deputy mayor responsible for young people, who resigned after unproven allegations of fraud and sexual misconduct which he denied), where he failed to adequately check Lewis’s background. He has launched headline-grabbing initiatives, such as an alcohol ban on the tube and launching Operation Blunt 2 (the Met’s knife crackdown, which has led to 528 knives recovered), but he needs to apply himself more fully to the task at hand. His plans to map crime street by street have already come unstuck – the Information Commissioner has deemed that releasing such information is illegal. His strengths lie in uniting disparate groups. ‘He was not my first choice, but he has a cross-party approach and is open to new ideas,’ says Uanu Seshimi, director of the Boyhood to Manhood Foundation in Camberwell, which mentors boys who have dropped out of school. ‘He has tried to reach out to young people,’ says Bertan Budak, 20, a contributor to Brixton-based youth magazine Live. ‘But hanging out with Lily Allen to promote his anti-knife campaign is not an inspiration. Dizzee Rascal, who has come from a tougher background, would be better.’Grade: B Comments: Shows promise

    Diversity

    Boris shows little interest in this issue. In June, he dropped the anti-racism message that had been at the core of the annual Rise music festival – a decision that was greeted with glee by the BNP and derision by the National Assembly Against Racism. A few days later, Johnson’s chief political advisor, James McGrath, was kicked out of City Hall for his response to a black journalist who suggested that Afro-Caribbean Londoners who were offended by Boris’s victory might return to their country of origin as a consequence. ‘Well, if they want to go let them,’ McGrath replied. Boris’s main concern seems to be to sweep City Hall clear of any residual crumbs of lefty politics that might still be lurking in the corners. Grade: F Comments: Must try harder

    Housing

    His report into housing, ‘Planning a Better London’, released in July, reaffirmed the commitment Ken Livingstone made to have 50,000 affordable homes built by 2011. ‘We did not have high expectations,’ says Adam Sampson, CEO of Shelter. Campaigners are also angry that he has ditched Ken’s requirement that all new developments should include 50 per cent affordable homes. Under Ken, the bias was to provide rented accommodation; under Boris, ‘affordable’ means buying into private shared ownership-type schemes. According to Sampson, ditching targets for affordable homes means 5,000 families will miss out on access to low-rent housing. Grade: D Comments: Room for improvement

    The environment

    Boris is a time-waster. Just because he rides a bike, he thinks he has ticked the environmental box. Ken agreed to spend £500 million over the next ten years on cycling, but it will require real political determination to continue that level of funding – delivering a Vélib-style bike-hire scheme and cycle corridors, as promised in Boris’s manifesto, takes capital. Scrapping the £25 emissions charge on large cars has also put a substantial dent in his green credentials and his finances. He has also refused to honour the goal to make all buses hybrids – thus cutting pollution – by 2012. Grade: E Comments: Boris must make better environmental decisions

    Transport

    He has demonstrated no clear policy on transport. ‘What we are missing is any big ideas,’ says transport commentator Christian Wolmar. ‘He is going through the paces with the Routemaster competition in order not to have egg on his face, but it will be too difficult to achieve. He must ask the real question: Do we want big cars in London?’ Luckily, Boris has support: head of London Underground Tim O’Toole and transport commissioner Peter Hendy will ensure major decisions, such as the renewal of the Metronet contracts and funding for CrossRail, go smoothly. Grade: D Comments: Room for improvement

    Verdict

    Boris is ambitious and easily influenced by a clique of other boys. ‘There’s no doubt David Cameron is on his speed dial,’ says Labour Assembly member John Biggs. ‘There’s a battle for Boris’s brain going on between his true right-wing instincts as a Tory and what is needed to effectively govern London.’ Boris does show promise in his plans for the outer ‘doughnut’ boroughs. ‘He looks at London as a whole,’ says Tory councillor for Ealing Phil Taylor. ‘Ken’s ear was only available for inner and east London, but Boris’s spending priorities will take into account the needs of outer boroughs.’ But Boris really needs to demonstrate he has a greater grip on the job – his lack of knowledge over the Olympic memorandum was inexcusable, for example. Serious revision over the summer holidays would be time well spent.Overall performance: C
    Comments: Competent, but has some way to go

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