Ken Livingstone: From the mayor's desk
PUBLISHED: 06:09 24 February 2006 | UPDATED: 10:25 07 September 2010
Silverlink deal helps signal a new golden age: We are heading for a new start for the North London travelling public – and for democracy in the capital. That is the message from last week's decision to hand control of Silverlink train services to myself
Silverlink deal helps signal a new golden age: "We are heading for a new start for the North London travelling public - and for democracy in the capital. That is the message from last week's decision to hand control of Silverlink train services to myself as London Mayor.
It is a major step towards undoing two of Thatcherism's disastrous legacies: the neglect of vital public services, including transport, and the denial to Londoners of any say in how their city is run.
On the vital railway routes served by Silverlink this will mean safer stations and, over time, improved services. And this will go hand-in-hand with other transport improvements since democracy was restored to our city six years ago with the election of the first London-wide Mayor.
We have already massively expanded the bus service - it is now the best since the 1960s - introduced radical policies to cut congestion, which has led to people getting out of their cars and onto public transport, and we have put in place tough policies to encourage affordable housing.
Since my first year in office we have increased the number of police officers on the streets. The introduction of dedicated police teams for every neighbourhood has accelerated and will have been completed throughout London by the end of the next financial year - two years ahead of schedule.
This week's transfer of rail services to myself and Transport for London means that we can get to grips with station safety. People in North London know that some of London's overground rail stations are isolated and deserted.
They are dangerous and scary places. And it is not acceptable. Any new franchisee who wants to operate on the North London Line will only be allowed to do so if their bid can guarantee that rail passengers get what tube passengers have come to expect as a right - staffed stations.
The handing over of Silverlink is an indication of government confidence in the mayorality with short termism giving way to long term planning and a multi-billion pound transport investment progamme. Not everything has been resolved but we have broken decisively from the legacy of the assault on London by Conservative rule. And this break will continue with more devolution.
Central government recognises the success of London and have presented a wide and welcome range of options for change in skills, planning, housing and dealing with waste.
London now has a unique chance to contribute to controlling climate change - and at the same time bring the unglamorous but essential service of waste management back under London-wide strategic supervision.
Make no mistake, the consequences of maintaining the status quo are far reaching.
Since abolition of the GLC the management of our waste has been broken up and handed over to the boroughs, leading to inconsistency and lack of co-ordination.
It is not the boroughs' fault - they dealt with their own area but the problem of how to handle our waste is city-wide. This is why I have proposed that London should have a single waste authority accountable to the electorate via myself.
Currently London's municipal waste is enough to fill Canary Wharf Tower every eight days. By 2020 this is expected to grow to 6.5 million tonnes every year. So far the answer has been to dump seven out of every ten tonnes in landfill mostly outside greater London.
We have to deal with this ourselves - we can't keep transporting it around the country. It is wrong in principle and in any event the surrounding regions are faced with saturation. The east of England has only six years of land fill capacity remaining.
In London only two landfill sites remain and one will run out in 2012. The answer is obvious: we have to recycle more. And we have to use new disposal technologies which will produce renewable energy and hydrogen.
Another high priority is to ensure all London residents can share in the city's prosperity by equipping them with the skills they need to fill the coming job opportunities as the city continues to prosper.
Our city has one of the lowest rates nationally of working age employment and I am determined to address this so that poverty and worklessness are consigned to history.
I have proposed that the Mayorality takes the lead by setting London specific skills targets - and ensuring that they are achieved.