Mayor Sadiq Khan has been accused of “desperation” after claiming credit for a land purchase initiated by his predecessor.
On Thursday City Hall issued a press release crediting Mr Khan with the decision buy the former Webbs Industrial Estate in Waltham Forest, describing it as “one of his first actions as Mayor”.
Despite the boasts, the original decision to buy the land was made by former mayor Boris Johnson who signed a ‘Mayoral Decision’ authorising the £12m purchase in March 2016.
While stressing that the land “had stood derelict for seven years,” Mr Khan’s press release made no mention of his predecessor’s involvement in initiating its purchase or the plans he inherited to use it to provide new housing.
The omission is especially stark given the Mayor’s record of claiming Johnson left little in the pipeline for his successor to deliver the homes Londoners need.
Khan’s press release also claims he got involved “after plans to build a free school on the site fell through”.
However the March 2016 decision makes clear that plans for a school had already been dropped prior to Johnson’s involvement, stating: “The Education Funding Authority (EFA) is tasked by Government to acquire sites for Free Schools in the UK, and acquired the site from the previous owner for £10.5m in early 2014 for development of a school.
“That development proposal has now moved on to a different site and the EFA approached the Borough to make them aware of their intention to dispose of the site. Given its location at the heart of the Housing Zone, the Borough included the site within its Housing Zone funding ask, seeking the GLAP’s support in its acquisition.”
Today’s release is the third time this month that the Mayor has claimed credit for work initiated either by his predecessor or the UK Government.
Two weeks ago Mr Khan’s office issued a press release hailing his “innovative” decision to invest £25m in developers Pocket Living to fund ‘micro homes’ to be sold to local people at capped prices.
The release failed to mention that this was an extension of a £26m deal signed by Johnson in 2013.
A week earlier, Khan’s aides briefed selected media outlets that he was bringing 4G to the London Underground, failing to mention that Transport for London was obliged to carry out the work as part of a Home Office project to build a new 4G-based network for the emergency services.
Commenting on the latest example Andrew Boff, the Conservative’s housing spokesperson at City Hall, said Mr Khan had spent the last year “blaming the previous Mayor for anything and everything that has gone wrong under his own leadership.”
He added: “Now he’s taking credit for a housing decision made before he even took office. This smacks of desperation.
“The Mayor has been caught fabricating the truth to enhance his own public image.
“It is about time he was honest about the decisions being taken and what, if anything, he has actually brought to the table.”
City Hall insists Mr Khan’s claims of credit for the land purchase are justified because the deal was completed after the March 2016 deadline originally agreed by Johnson and because, unlike his scheme, not all the homes built under the former mayor’s plans would have been affordable.
Despite this stance, a Mayoral Decision signed by Mr Khan appointing a developer to build the new homes states the land was acquired “under the approval of MD1627″ – the document signed by Boris Johnson.