Khan and Goldsmith no show irks infrastructure community

ACE hit out at mayoral candidates Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan for pulling out of this week’s Infrastructure debate at the ICE accusing the pair of “having a disdainful disregard for the needs of Londoners”.

“The infrastructure challenge facing London is huge and it is highly concerning that the two men in line to be the next mayor have refused to sit down with the very industry that will help them meet this challenge. London needs to build 49,000 homes a year, build 600 new schools, and rapidly expand the transport network if we hope to keep London working. This debate needed to happen if Londoners are to have any confidence in who they chose to vote for as mayor,” said the organisation which put on the event as part of the Infrastructure Alliance. 

Dr Nelson Ogunshakin chief executive of Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) added: “We are exceedingly disappointed that, at the last minute, neither Zac Goldsmith nor Sadiq Khan will honour their commitment to debate about London’s infrastructure future. ACE is exceedingly concerned about whether politicians realise the vital importance that infrastructure plays in the lives of Londoners, or has realistically come to terms with the steep infrastructure challenges ahead for London if the city wishes to remain globally competitive. This was a tremendous opportunity for Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan to hear about challenges as well as potential infrastructure solutions from experts in the field, and bypassed opportunity for expert insights that ACE hopes is not a sign of what can be expected of the next mayor.”

Last month the Khan and Goldsmith pulled out of a debate organised by other leading built environment institutions including the RTPI and RICS.

Sadiq Khan sent in his place Val Shawcross, London Assembly Member for Lambeth & Southwark whilst Claire Perry MP, parliamentary undersecretary of state for transport represented Zac Goldsmith. Others candidates taking part were Cllr Sian Berry (Green), Caroline Pidgeon AM (Liberal Democrat), and Peter Whittle (UK Independence Party). 

The debate saw candidates on message with few surprises. 

The candidates, get them in one:

Claire Perry MP 

“Zac like me is absolutely committed to infrastructure investment, which has been neglected by all Governments. But we need a mayor who can work with central government. I don’t want to see Londoners make the mistake of voting for a candiate who promises a lot and delivers little.”

Val Shawcross

“We are promising a fare freeze and we are looking to make sure it is funded and affordable. We can save costs by making TFL more efficient”.

Caroline Pidgeon

“We want to see genuinely affordable council housing and would provide £2bn with land for them to build homes. We'd set up our own building company to deliver them and a skills training academy as well.” 

Cllr Sian Berry

“Cycling and walking are the most efficient way of using space. 40% of TFL’s budget comes from fairs; just 2.5% comes from car drivers – something has to change.”

Peter Whittle

“I think we have a moral responsibility to look at the demand side [of housing] as well as the supply side. We can’t keep building more and more homes unless we want to sprawl over the South east and destroy the Greenbelt.”