Sian Berry’s ‘New Start’ for London: An Analysis
Sian Berry is the Green Party candidate for the London Mayoral election on the 6th of May 2020. Currently a member of the London Assembly, Berry sits on the Police and Crime and Housing Committees. She has also been a Co-leader of the Green Party since 2018. While Berry did not achieve success as a Mayoral Candidate in 2008 and 2016, she has developed a range of proposals to make London ‘prepared for the future’, including plans that address issues intensified and created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Berry’s ideas focus on impacting the day-to-day lives of people living in London, from addressing housing and transport issues, to highlighting issues over rights and environmental concerns. Environmentally, she intends to make London the ‘greenest city in the world’ by protecting green spaces and investing in more green energy and new jobs. Her manifesto also includes an emphasis on ‘bottom-up leadership’, increasing the participation people on issues that affect them. On the Green Party website, Berry has included her manifesto and set out the issues that are most important to her in the run up to the Mayoral election.
Berry focuses on the following issues:
· ‘Fresh thinking’ for housing
· Plans to address London’s transport and road issues
· Action for a ‘safe and healthy’ city
· Respect for the rights of everyone
· the transformation of London’s economy
‘Fresh Thinking’ for housing
· Addressing the loss of council houses
· Homes for key workers
· Preventing homelessness
In 2016, Berry proposed the creation of a London Renters Union to represent almost a million households. In 2020, her commitment to fairness in the area of housing continues as she emphasises the need stop the destruction and sales of ‘secure housing’ for people who live on lower incomes. Berry challenged the current Mayor of London in January of this year on the issue that new council home building in London is failing to keep up with the loss of council homes due to Right to Buy as well as demolition. She emphasises this ‘emergency’ by saying that 3,600 council homes were lost in 2020 and that the housing crisis has ‘deepened’ due to the pandemic.
An emphasis on fresh thinking is particularly revealed in her proposal of investing in homes for key workers ‘at a London Living Rent’. Additionally, Berry promises to help students to receive rent rebates and support for mental health, whilst working to cancel the rent debts that have built up during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Plans to address London’s transport and road issues
· Fairer fares with one zone
· Reduce traffic
· Improved bus stop design
Berry intends to create fairer fares for people travelling in London, pledging to create ‘one single fare zone’ for everyone in London. She also plans to invest in healthy streets and better buses to reduce traffic, whilst committing to make all transport in London ‘zero carbon and non-polluting’ by 2030.
A plan for improved bus stops also features in her plans, taking into account environmental concerns. As well as providing real-time bus arrival times and comfortable seating for Londoners, Berry plans for solar generating glazing and bee-friendly planting above bus stop shelters. This proposal not only responds to issues raised Londoners but also environmental challenges. According to UN Habitat, cities consume '70% of the world’s energy’ and produce ‘more than 60%’ of greenhouse gas emissions. Why not cut carbon with bus stops?
Action for a ‘safe and healthy’ city
· A new approach to drugs
· Achieving clean air and road safety
· Supporting London’s youth services
In line with the Green Party’s 2019 pledge to decriminalise and regulate all drugs, Berry proposes to deprioritise the policing of cannabis in London. This proposal is in response to drug deaths in the UK and London. Additionally, Berry aims to achieve a ‘safe and healthy’ London through an ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) that will ‘cover all of London’ and wishes to achieve road safety through cutting speed limits.
In a short Youtube video in 2020, Berry talked about her efforts against the damaging cuts experienced by youth services in London, including the importance she puts on listening to young people and giving them a voice. With the pandemic making London’s youth work more difficult, Berry plans to continuously increase youth funding.
Respect for the rights of everyone
· Promoting trans rights
· Confronting racism and prejudice
· Pushing back on police powers
Berry states that the Greens will remove ‘any barriers’ in the way of ‘everyone’s rights being respected’. Specifically, she wishes to promote the rights of trans people and believes that London can be ‘the most trans inclusive city in the world.’ Berry emphasises that meaningful research and action are yet to be taken, planning a commission into the needs of trans people in London to prevent discrimination in areas such as housing, employment and healthcare. Berry’s range of ideas also include promises to promote LGBTIQA+ awareness training for staff within the GLA, as well as dedicating a GLA building for LGBTIQA+ community space.
Pushing back against hostile environment policies, Berry will demand an ‘immediate halt’ of forced deportation flights and promises to confront racism and prejudice. Additionally, Berry proposes to protect civil liberties and roll back the increase of stop and search by the police.
The transformation of London’s economy
· Raising the living wage
· Opportunities for young people
As a response to housing costs in London and rates of working poverty, Berry proposes to raise the London Living Wage from £8.72 to £14 an hour. She also wishes to create more opportunities for young people starting careers in business and the arts through a trial of a Creative Autonomy Allowance.
Alette Moller, Campus Ambassador