Three hundred pack into fringe meeting as mayor shoots from the hip over homes and “scum” contractors.
London mayor Ken Livingstone has warned housebuilders that half of all schemes in the capital will have to be made up of social housing.

Livingstone, who was addressing a packed fringe meeting on Monday outside the conference, also restated his view that the contractors bidding for the London Underground public-private partnership refurbishment packages were totally unsuitable.

Livingstone said arrangements for social housing in the capital were inadequate and that housebuilders would have to abide by his policy if they wanted to win contracts.

Livingstone said: “We looked at a provision of 40% but it is not enough. If developers and housebuilders want to build in London they will have to ensure 50% of any scheme is earmarked for affordable and social housing. If they don’t like it they can build elsewhere or fund my opponents.”

His comments drew an immediate response from construction and planning minister Nick Raynsford.

Raynsford said: “Ken is simply shooting from the hip. Local authorities have real powers to seek affordable homes and 50% is achievable within the current arrangement. But you cannot have 50% social housing on all developments. Ultimately, Ken also knows all planning appeals finally come to us at the DETR.”

A spokesperson for the House Builders’ Federation said Livingstone’s proposals would not get to the root of the shortage of affordable housing in London.

He said: “We are surprised he is asking for this, as it would only make the situation worse. The answer is to free up restrictive and costly planning, make sites more viable and allow everyone a chance to own his or her own home.”

Good firms knew that PPP would not work. We are left with the spivs

Ken Livingstone

Livingstone, who has been expelled from the Labour Party, threatened legal action against the government. He told his 300-strong audience that he would ask for a judicial review of its handling of the London Underground public-private partnership unless it agreed to fund Tube expansion with a bond issue.

Livingstone also renewed his attack on the Tube consortia, saying: “Virtually every contractor bidding for the PPP has prosecutions for deaths in their workforce. One of the bidders has yet to compensate people it used as slave labour during the Second World War.

“Good firms knew PPP couldn’t work and pulled out. We are left with the spivs. They are the scum at the bottom of the capitalist barrel.

“We will carry out further investigations into these firms and the individuals that run them.”

Construction Confederation chief executive Jennie Price said: “A lot of his criticism is ideologically and politically motivated. But you have to remember what stage this contract is at, and this is not the time for these comments.

“Tendering firms have to have good health and safety records but I don’t think comments from a third party are necessary.“

He said that the report he commissioned into PPP by Will Hutton, head of the Industrial Society, was the fifth to conclude that PPP was unworkable. He said: “This new report highlights safety issues and other defects in the financial structure and its value for money.” The report says the PPP proposals should include tougher financial tests to prove it does offer value for money.