London mayoral candidate Rory Stewart visits Romford and shares how he would manage crime and housing

PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:54 09 March 2020

Rory Stewart talking to police officers in Romford's town centre. Picture: Veronica Thorne

Rory Stewart talking to police officers in Romford's town centre. Picture: Veronica Thorne


During his visit to Romford, London mayoral candidate Rory Stewart stopped to talk to the Recorder about how he would tackle crime, housing and the spread of the coronavirus should he win the May election.

Rory Stewart with volunteers, office aids and councillor Gillian Ford in Romford town centre. Picture: Veronica ThorneRory Stewart with volunteers, office aids and councillor Gillian Ford in Romford town centre. Picture: Veronica Thorne

After losing out to Boris Johnson in the 2019 leadership contest, Rory launched his campaign for London mayor as an independent candidate.

He's hoping his policies will be enough for him to beat the other candidates including current Labour mayor Sadiq Khan, Harold Hill's Conservative offering Shaun Bailey and Lib Dem candidate Siobhan Benita.

Starting in South Street, Rory made his way through Romford to speak to residents about his policies on Thursday, March 5.

He told the Recorder: "London is for everybody and [the mayor] particularly has to reach out to places in Essex, places that might not have traditionally felt like they're part of London.

"They are part of London and deserve to benefit.

"And it's things like accelerating Crossrail, making sure it's delivered on time, making sure that you're safe, making sure that we're getting on top of knife crime - these are the things that we must be doing for places like Havering."

With Rory's Operation Local he promises to triple the number of neighbourhood local police officers in London in his first year of office. That equates to 2,369 new fulltime officers.

"You need to have more bobbies on the beat," said Rory.

Rory Stewart talking to residents in the Romford Greyhound Stadium. Picture: Veronica ThorneRory Stewart talking to residents in the Romford Greyhound Stadium. Picture: Veronica Thorne

"It's making sure that in every ward you have a sergeant, two police constables and three PCSOs and that they're absolutely focused on street crime."

During his visit to the town centre, Rory also met with Peter Chesney to learn more about the Jodie Chesney Foundation.

He said it was "absolutely heartbreaking" that an innocent young woman like Jodie had been murdered.

"It's something that should never happen in our city," said the mayoral candidate.

"In order to get on top of knife crime we need to do two things, the first is to improve our policing over it.

"We've got great police officers but we need more of them and they need the right kind of management and support to get on top of knife crime.

"The second thing is we need to have the right approach to young people and that includes getting into schools, in the way that the Jodie Chesney Foundation does, to make sure that we're providing the right education."

Like the other mayoral candidates, Rory has criticised the current mayor's ability to meet his housing targets.

His housing plan involves halting the sale of TfL land to reclaim it for housing and establishing a Mayor's Building Company to develop more homes.

He said: "The Mayor of London is sitting on 5,500 acres of land.

"A lot of it is in central London where he could be building affordable housing instead of putting the problems in Havering and definitely not putting the problems on the green belt.

"For me, we should be making the green belt greener, not building on it."

The former Conservative MP has quite an international background as he was born in Hong Kong and has worked as a diplomat in Indonesia and Montenegro.

His idea to walk through areas of London for his campaign is inspired by his 2,000 mile walk through Afghanistan in 2002.

While in Parliament Rory worked for the Secretary of State in charge of the Ebola response and has previous experience of managing the spread of infectious diseases.

When it comes to the coronavirus, Rory said there was no reason for the public to be concerned and that "active energetic management" was required to manage the spread of COVID-19.

"I would be running as mayor, a meeting every morning in military style to stay on top of this," he said.

"The people who are most at risk are of course the elderly.

"We need to wash our hands and if we're sick we need to self-isolate. Leave the masks to the medical professionals.

"But above all, as the mayor, stay on top of it and ask the tough questions - do you have the public health equipment in place?

"What are you doing about repeat prescriptions? How are you preparing on this ward?"

Rory was a Conservative MP for Penrith and The Border until he had the whip removed in September 2019 for supporting a motion that would act as the first step to table a bill to stop a no-deal Brexit.

As a Remain voter, Rory said that we now we've got to "make a great success of Brexit".

He added: "But that also means asking some difficult questions - making sure that we get the right immigration policy, the right regulations and that we have the right negotiations with China and the US.

"So for me as mayor that involves putting pressure on the central government, on Brussels and making sure we have a Brexit that works for us and that includes very much areas like Havering."

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