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14 August 2007

Power to the people?

Andrew Boff says his main goal is democratic renewal including allowing Londoners the right to draw

By Andrew Boff

Another Livingstone term will be a victory for central planning and the political class. It will weaken Boroughs and communities. We’ll have more diktats, more disengagement and more contempt for the opinions of the people. One thing you can guarantee, however, is that there will be more razzmatazz and more distractions for people to take their minds off the fact that more and more decisions about their lives will be taken at City Hall. The people of London need power, Livingstone gives them parties.

The prime aim of my mayoralty will be a democratic renewal. I will be a mayor who uses the Leadership of London to empower Boroughs, communities and individuals.

Londoners will have the right to draw up their own policies and have them voted on by fellow Londoners. On raising a petition of a proportion (10% to 30%) of voters any proposal within the remit of the Mayor would be put to Londoners at the next ordinary election. The result would be binding on me.

Communities who think that their Boroughs are too large and remote will have my support in drafting proposals to break them into smaller, more accountable units.

I’ll continue and strengthen the move towards community-based policing. I will insist that the Boroughs invest heavily in providing rewarding activities for disengaged young people.

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Regeneration has become a dirty word in many parts of London because many projects seem to ignore the interests of people who are already there. You cannot defeat poverty by just moving out the poor people. New Labour let large corporations call the tune on redevelopment proposals thereby contributing to the widening gap between London’s poor and the rest.

Family housing will be promoted and there will be no subsidies for one and two bedroomed high-rise flats. The Housing Strategy will take into account the building of communities rather than just houses. London doesn’t need any more wind-swept ghettos without shops or services.

I will draft legislation to protect small shops and independents against unfair competition from large retailers. This will include the power for planning authorities to be able to refuse applications that are anti-competitive and to enable “Small Business Conservation Areas” to be set up.

I will fight against the damage to the environment and valuable green areas that over development and the Olympics threaten. We need a massive house-building programme but not one that throws away the natural and built heritage of London. I will commission an accessible “Bus for London” designed for London streets, not just buy in buses designed for other cities.

I’ll be reducing the size of City Hall from 688 posts down to 200. Senior administrative functions will be carried out by lead officers in the Boroughs. This will flatten the management structure and bring the Boroughs into the Government of London rather than being below it.