Tory Mayor candidate ‘understands concerns’ over high housing costs

Tory Mayor candidate 'understands concerns' over high housing costs
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A Tory mayoral hopeful has said he shares Londoners’ frustrations with high housing costs, as he was priced out of the capital himself.

Samuel Kasumu, who is running to be the Conservative candidate in next year’s race for City Hall, said he and his wife were forced to move out to the Home Counties when they were looking to buy a house.

Mr Kasumu, a former advisor to Boris Johnson who serves as a member of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, said: “When we got married, we couldn’t afford to live in London.

“We ended up in Essex, in a place called Laindon, which I’d never heard of before.

“We ended up there because there was a house that we could purchase for £185,000. That’s all we could afford – we were young, 24, 25.

“Then the value of that home appreciated, so we could get closer to home, because we’re both from Barnet. Welwyn Garden City was closer to home – a 20 minute drive.

“So that’s why we ended up there. I don’t regret it, because it’s important for any London mayor to understand the London region, including the Home Counties.”

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Mr Kasumu said his wife is now searching for a London home for them to buy.

“It’s partly why I’m so passionate about it, because it’s been my experience,” he said.

“It’s only now that we can afford to come back, so I totally get where people are coming from.”

If elected Mayor, Mr Kasumu said he would “look at the land that is overseen by the Mayor and TfL – lots of brownfield land, and we want to ask ourselves how we can be more radical with how we’re using that land to build homes”.

He added that he would find more creative ways of utilising public and private funding to increase the supply of affordable homes – as well as naming and shaming boroughs which are failing to build enough new properties.

“We’re going to make boroughs accountable. We’re going to publish house-building numbers, including planning permission[s] given,” he said.

“We’re going to publish it and the boroughs that are in the bottom quartile, no matter what party they’re from, they’re going to have to give an account to the public about why their house-building record is so shocking.
“No ifs, no buts. This is the number one priority.”

Mr Kasumu is one of several Conservatives who hope to go up against Sadiq Khan as their party’s mayoral candidate in 2024.

Minister for London Paul Scully MP has said he is considering running, while Kit Malthouse MP – a former deputy mayor to Boris Johnson – has refused to rule out a bid.

Three Tories on the London Assembly – Andrew Boff, Nick Rogers and Susan Hall – have all declared they are running, while former councillor Duwayne Brooks – friend of murdered teeanger Stephen Lawrence – has said he is also entering the race.

The party will nominate a shortlist of two or three candidates in June, who will be put forward for a vote among London’s Conservative membership. The chosen candidate will be announced on July 19.

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