Labour’s Sadiq Khan has followed Conservative contender Zac Goldsmith in pulling out of tonight’s mayoral election debate at the RIBA on housing
Khan and Goldsmith had been lined up to speak alongside the other three main candidates in the race to replace London mayor Boris Johnson at the event at Portland Place.
It is understood the hustings will still go ahead, with London Assembly member Val Shawcross standing in for Khan - who withdrew yesterday - and a Conservative representative lined up to speak for Goldsmith who had previously said he couldn’t attend.
The debate, which was organised jointly by a number of leading built environment institutions including the RTPI and RICS, will focus on housing, infrastructure and growth for ‘London 2020 and beyond’. It was originally to be chaired by broadcaster Simon Jenkins - however he also withdrew and Evening Standard columnist Rosamund Irwin has come in as his replacement.
The event is part of a series of debates with the candidates in the run-up to the election on 5 May. Each will look at ’different planning related areas of interest’ including London’s ’environmental resilience’ and the ’economics of devolution’.
The pair’s withdrawal from tonight’s clash (16 February) was widely condemned on social media.
Some commentators blamed the RIBA’s stance on the Garden Bridge - the institute wants the project halted to allow a full investigation into its procurement - for Khan and Goldsmith’s decision not to attend.
Goldsmith has publicly backed the controversial Thomas Heatherwick-designed project and, while Khan initially had his doubts over the £175 million scheme, he too has recently said he would support the bridge if its procurement was found to be above board.
Both Zac and Sadiq have pulled out of tomorrow's RIBA hustings. Follows calls by RIBA last week for the Garden Bridge to be scrapped.— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) February 15, 2016