Letter to Ham and High- latest response to Jessica Learmond-Criqui

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to Jessica Learmond-Criqui’s latest letter, ‘Mayor still has time to help Met’ in which she makes a number of nebulous claims and accusations.

However, it has been encouraging to see that Ms Learmond-Criqui acknowledges the role that the Government has played, in what she colourfully refers to, as the “demise” of the Metropolitan Police. It is also refreshing to hear, that to her credit, Ms Learmond-Criqui has lobbied the Government as well as City Hall for the Met to be properly resourced. We should not have reached the stage where keeping the public safe has become a politically partisan issue, but I live in a perhaps idealistic hope, that our cross-party calls for more funding will be taken seriously by the next Prime Minister.

In her letter, Ms Learmond-Criqui is keen for me to directly address her criticisms of the Mayor’s decision to allocate money to the Dock Beach event in Newham and earmark funds for the Rotherhithe Bridge.

To clarify, the £462,794 budget for the series of community events taking place at Dock Beach is funded entirely through the business rates income generated within the Royal Docks Enterprise Zone. The rules dictate that this money has to be ringfenced for use in this specific area of the capital. In addition, the Mayor has recently cancelled the Rotherhithe Bridge project.

It is important to underline, that these arguments pose as unhelpful distractions away from the cold-hard reality of the insuperable scale of the Government cuts that the Met are facing- set to run over £1 billion by 2023. Let’s be clear- it is within the Government’s power and remit of responsibility to put this right.

On the subject of taking responsibility, the Mayor has publicly asserted that the buck stops with him when it comes to violent crime. This is why he has invested hundreds of millions of pounds of additional funding into the police, introduced a specialist Violent Crime Taskforce aimed at removing the most dangerous criminals from our streets and set up the Violence Reduction Unit public health approach model, supplemented by a £45 million Young Londoners Fund to support early intervention initiatives.

More recently, Sadiq Khan has also quite rightly reiterated that there is an indisputable link between violent crime and poverty, against the backdrop of almost a decade of Government austerity that has plunged so many of the most vulnerable families in the capital below the breadline.

The ever-urgent question is: will the Government take responsibility for this, or continue to remain coldly indifferent to the consequences of their abysmal legacy?

Finally, Ms Learmond-Criqui’s closing remark which implies that I am some sort of marionette controlled by the Mayor is a crude and baseless attempt at an insult. Over the last seven years, I have invariably done my duty as an Assembly Member to hold the previous and current Mayor, robustly to account, representing the needs and interests of my constituents.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Dismore AM