The Mayor of London has asked his Conservative rival for help in tackling violent crime in the capital, amid a ‘perfect storm’ which he says will leave the Metropolitan Police facing £110 million in cuts.
Sadiq Khan has written directly to Tory mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey asking for the pair to team up and lobby the government over police funding. Mr Bailey has rejected the call, telling his Labour counterpart to instead cut ‘waste’ from City Hall spending.
In his letter to the man vying to take his job, seen exclusively by Metro.co.uk, Mr Khan says there is a ‘real risk of violent crime rising’ as lockdown is eased.
The Mayor — who is staying in power until 2021 after this year’s election was delayed by the coronavirus crisis — asked Mr Bailey to ‘take the politics out of this vital issue… and work together to urge the Government to do what’s in the best interests of Londoners.’
Mr Khan has been criticised for his record on crime in the capital, while Mr Bailey has sought to make the issue a key part of the campaign.
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The letter says: ‘We are facing the perfect storm of increased costs incurred in responding to the crisis, combined with a huge reduction in our revenue.
‘As a result, unless the Government takes urgent action, further cuts of £110 million will need to be made to policing in London at the worst possible time, just when there is a real risk of violent crime rising as lockdown is eased.
‘Essential preventative services, like youth clubs and mental health support, are also at risk.’
Alongside potential cuts to policing, Mr Khan has outlined how £290 million in transport budget savings may have to be made to plug the collapse in City Hall’s income during the pandemic.
In his letter, he pointed out that he has taken a pay cut and will do ‘everything I can to protect front-line services’ with spending reserves ‘prudently built up before the pandemic’. But he says ‘nothing could have prepared us for the scale of the financial blackhole’.
The Mayor made an ‘urgent request’ for Mr Bailey to write a letter or phone Conservative colleagues about investing in policing, adding: ‘join me in standing up for London’.
He suggested that together the pair could lobby government to avoid ‘another era of austerity on our police and preventative services’.
But Mr Bailey, a former youth and crime adviser in Downing Street, suggested Mr Khan was being disingenuous, blaming the mayor for mismanaging public finances.
He told Metro.co.uk: ‘Khan wants to take the politics out of policing. And he’s right.
‘The only problem is his track record. Sadiq Khan has played politics with the police from day one. And now he wants to defund the police, something I refuse to even discuss.’
Mr Khan’s team dispute the claim that he would like to defund the police, instead blaming the cuts on Mr Bailey’s ‘minister mates’.
The Conservative candidate continued: ‘Instead of taking a symbolic and meaningless pay cut, the Mayor should cut waste from City Hall. Like the £760k he spent on beach parties. Or the 26% increase in his PR budget.’
The delayed election has seen former prime ministerial candidate Rory Stewart pull out of his campaign to be an independent mayor, while Liberal Democrat candidate Siobhan Benita also dropped out of the race late last month.
Reports that Mr Bailey could be replaced as the Conservative candidate have been dismissed, with Mr Khan holding a commanding lead in the polls. Meanwhile, Green Party co-leader Sian Berry has confirmed she will be standing, with the Women’s Equality Party, independent candidates and the rapper Drillminister among others expected to stand.
The Home Office have been contacted for comment. The Metropolitan Police declined to comment.
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