I believe that Londoners are fed up with Ken Livingstone’s political posturing and want a Mayor committed to improving the quality of life for everyone across the capital.
Londoners want a businesslike approach that sets out clear goals for the city and applies a relentless focus on delivering those goals. I would put forward a powerful, positive vision of what London could become while not shying away from exposing the Mayor’s shortcomings and engaging him in vigorous debate and argument.
My top priority would be tackling crime in the capital, especially violent crime. The weak and the vulnerable are the main victims of crime and I would make it my mission to ensure that once again Londoners would feel safe to walk the streets of their capital day and night and to travel on public transport late at night.
I would work closely with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to achieve my goal of having a New York-style drive against crime with more police on the streets and much tighter systems of monitoring crime levels and targeting hotspots.
My other main priorities are improving public transport, speeding traffic flows, devising a practical green agenda for the capital and helping small and medium size businesses. I would scrap the congestion charge because it has not brought any benefits while costing motorists a lot of money and hitting business.
I would cut the cost of Ken – now £300 a year for the average household. Livingstone has increased his share of the council tax by 150 per cent since coming to power – seven times more than the rate of inflation over the same period.
My aim would be freeze in the Mayor’s share of the council tax in the first year followed by reductions later.
I would root out waste at City Hall, reducing the number of highly paid advisers and cutting back on the extravagant use of outside consultants.
Have you ever wondered how many press, marketing, communications and promotional staff are employed by the Mayor’s office, the Greater London Assembly and the bodies dealing with police, fire and emergency planning, development and transport in the capital?
According to official figures, there are an astonishing 173 such people on Livingstone’s payroll.
Public transport in London is a nightmare, especially the London Underground. A number of features require urgent review. First, the Spanish practices of the rail unions appear to be a major obstacle to producing a
more efficient service responding to the needs of passengers. Second, the programme of investment and renewal appears to be proceeding far too slowly.
And with the demise of Metronet, Londoners are again faced with further delays on long overdue improvements to the transport system.
I am also concerned that Livingstone’s obsession with buses is proving counter-productive. The bendy bus is ill suited to London’s narrow roads and has been associated with an unacceptably high level of accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists. It also is an open invitation to fare-dodging.
I would banish the bendy bus and explore the options for developing a 21st Century version of the Routemaster.
This also raises the question of reintroducing conductors on busy and potentially dangerous late night services. London’s buses need to be cleaner in air emissions terms and more convenient for passengers.
More broadly, I would map out a practical green agenda for London, centred on the better use of technology to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, user-friendly recycling and a general clean up of the capital to reduce
litter and graffiti and restore pride in our city.
I believe that an active green agenda for London, combined with imaginative e-campaigning, would help to re-engage younger voters with the political process and win them to the Conservative cause. But young people, like all of us, are also very worried about crime, public transport and the high costs of living in London.