London’s New Deputy Mayor for Housing

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Cllr Tom Copley was on Friday (31st January) announced as London’s new Deputy Mayor for Housing. The announcement of a new portfolio holder has been anticipated for some time now, following James Murray’s election to the House of Commons as the new MP for Ealing North at the recent General Election.

Tom Copley has been on the Greater London Assembly since 2012 and currently serves as Chairman of its Housing Committee. As well as this, he also represents the Sydenham ward on Lewisham Borough Council, having been elected to do so in May 2018. Unlike Deputy Mayor for Planning, Jules Pipe, and a number of contenders to replace Murray, Copley is not a former Council Leader with all that entails around decision-making.

Prior to his involvement in representative politics, Copley worked for anti-fascist organisations, Searchlight and Hope Not Hate. Following this, he became an organiser and election agent for the Labour in Camden.

In terms of his policy background, Copley has written extensively on housing as an issue, with reports such as Slums of the Future dealing with permitted development rights of transforming offices into residential units, as well as Right to Buy: Wrong for London. This latter report hit headlines due to its discovery that councils paid £22m to rent back homes they have sold. In the light of this and his role on the GLA’s Housing Committee, it is fair to say that he comes to the role with a sound grasp of housing policy issues facing Londoners.

Copley’s position in the Labour Party is considered to be ‘soft-left’ by left-wing outlets such as LabourList.org for whom he writes periodically. Copley is also a member of the Fabian Society- a moderate affiliate of the Party, and Copley is one of four on Labour’s GLA election shortlist who has not been endorsed by Momentum. He is supporting Lisa Nandy in the current Labour Party leadership election.

And what should we expect from the new Deputy Mayor? Cllr Copley moves into this role as a known quantity to the Mayor with a track record of experience on housing policy. There is a clear opportunity for him to move into Khan’s inner circle during the Mayor’s likely second term and bring a new energy to the administration. The City Hall administration is considered by some observers to be somewhat distant but Copley’s engaging character does not fit this bill. House builders active in the Capital can expect a new Deputy Mayor who will combine personal charisma with a strong aptitude for technical housing policy.

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