Tory race widens in bid to be candidate to take on Sadiq Khan in London

The contest for the Conservative nomination at the next London mayoral election has widened further after a candidate announced their intention to run on a ticket of building 50,000 homes.

Alex Challoner is pitching to be the Tory candidate with a “bold” plan to create five so-called market communities in the capital.

The 53-year-old, who has worked in the housing sector for more than 20 years, said the funding would come from a 15% infrastructure levy applied on developments upfront, which he calculates could raise millions of pounds.

The board member of the Tory Reform Group said Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is vying for a third term in City Hall at the May 2024 election, had “ignored” the housing crisis.

Mr Khan last week declared that nearly 120,000 affordable homes had been built in the capital since 2015, meeting the 116,000 target set by central government.

Mr Challoner’s intention would be that each of the five communities, built following consultation with councils across the capital, would contain 10,000 new homes.

Announcing his plan to stand on Monday, Mr Challoner said: “London’s housing crisis can be fixed by a bold mayor and I will be that bold mayor.”

The businessman is also running on a ticket to increase the number of police dedicated to Safer Neighbourhood Teams by a third and hire an extra 1,000 officers to support a new dedicated police unit for burglary and car crime.

On transport, the former journalist said he would campaign for the Victoria Line on the London Underground be fully automated by 2026, with a target of the entire Tube network going the same way two years later.

Mr Challoner’s bid comes as one candidate bowed out of the race and endorsed a rival.

London Assembly member Nick Rodgers said he was dropping out of the contest and would be supporting Paul Scully, the Minister for London who announced his candidacy on Thursday.

The Tories will whittle down the runners to a shortlist of up to three before voting takes place among members to decide a candidate on July 19.

Former Downing Street advisers Daniel Korski and Samuel Kasumu have announced they are running for the candidacy, along with London Assembly members Andrew Boff and Susan Hall.

Duwayne Brooks, who was with Stephen Lawrence when he was killed in a racially motivated attack 30 years ago, has also told reporters he is seeking the party’s nomination.

Mr Kasumu on Monday announced a plan to recruit a new generation of volunteer police cadets as part of a plans to restore trust and confidence in the Metropolitan Police.

A Labour source said Mr Khan was “getting on with building a better London for everyone”, including by “delivering a record number of council homes”.