This is a post for everyone who cares a tiny bit but not too much about the election of the new London Mayor on May 3rd.
Maybe you’ve not lived in London that long and aren’t planning to stick around. Or you’re in your mid-twenties and haven’t been able to shake that allergy to politics.
These are the people who set tube, train and bus fares (groan), how much council tax you pay (run away and hide) and whether in a few years’ time we’ll be able to say that Peckham used to be pretty rough but not so much any more.
It’d also be pretty nice to justify the wince-inducing rent we pay by making sure London is still one of the most interesting cities in the world to live in. The next mayor will have to create jobs, sort out housing problems and stop those riots happening again.
WHO TO VOTE FOR
Take 45 minutes out to watch the Newsnight hustings, presented by Jeremy Paxman, before you do anything.
Boris gets attacked by the three other main candidates, Ken comes across as more than a little untrustworthy, Brian Paddick seems obsessed with crime and policing (that’s his background) and Jenny Jones barely gets to speak – I don’t think she’s got a chance.
Yes Boris is a Tory and Ken’s Labour but unlike in a general election, this is less about parties and more about who you reckon is going to spend the capital’s money most wisely.
Ken’s promises to use a TFL surplus to save people who live in Zones 1 and 2 £1000 over four years and people in Zone 6 £1700 sound lovely – I pay £150-£180 a month in travel – but also a bit unbelievable. If there’s money sitting around to cut fares, it seems TFL would have done this already.
I liked Jenny Jones’ idea to increase the congestion charge – central London would feel much more cosmopolitan with less cars around and it’s a great way of raising money and “saving the environment”.
Brian Paddick’s One Hour Bus Ticket is also a winner – if you don’t have a travelcard, it’s annoying that you can change tube for one journey, but not buses.
Housing and Jobs
In March, Boris announced a £41m London Growth Fund that is supposed to create jobs and housing and which businesses can apply for. So whoever becomes Mayor this year will no doubt see some positive stories come out of this investment.
Many of the candidates are promising the same thing for housing – creating more of it (11,000 from Boris’ count) and tackling rogue landlords.
Ken reckons he can save people £600 a year through an all-London not for profit lettings agency – but again this seems too good to be true, no Mayor will be able to curb the rises in rent when people will pay thousands of pounds a week for a flat. I do like the sound of Ken’s bulk energy buying scheme to save us money on electricity bills though, if he can pull it off.
Crime is down 9% now from when Boris was elected and there’s 1000 more police on London streets – which looks pretty good until you remember how many people decided to go out and loot last summer.
Brian Paddick, a former deputy Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police would most likely be the best man for the job here but I’m worried he’s a bit of a one trick pony and, in (an admittedly naive) theory, if the next Mayor improves jobs and housing for Londoners, crime will go down.
HOW TO VOTE
Register to vote with the Electoral Commission here. Once you’ve done that sit back till May 3rd.
Everything you need to know about voting for the Mayor and the London Assembly on the day, you can find on the London Elects how to vote page. It’s pretty simple stuff, I’m sure we can all manage.
City Hall image credit: Faraz Pourreza-Jorshari (Boom Son).