The leading contenders in the Mayor of London election have unveiled more eye-catching promises as the campaign moves into a more active stage.
With four weeks to go, Tory candidate Boris Johnson has said that if elected he will ban the consumption of alcohol on the Tube to further crack down on anti-social behaviour and public disorder.
Londoners go to the polls on May 1st to elect a Mayor and the 25-member London Assembly.
Ken Livingstone, the incumbent Mayor and Labour party candidate, said that as polling day nears “Londoners are concentrating on the big policy issues that will affect their lives; transport, crime, housing, community relations.”
During a visit to Bexley today, Mr Johnson said that the Mayor’s own figures show alcohol is implicated in 40% of incidents of violent crime and claimed recent figures indicate that violent crime in London has increased by 13.7% over the last 8 years.
“London has a higher rate of alcohol-related crimes than any other region in England and I have been told time and again that people are scared of taking the Underground late at night because of aggressive behaviour by drunken yobs,”he said.
“Too many people find themselves forced to sit opposite someone swigging from a can of lager and engaging in behaviour that is intimidating or worse.
“I want everyone’s journeys to be safer and more pleasant.
“This city needs a fresh approach and new ideas to return the feeling of safety to our buses, trains and station platforms. London needs a new Mayor.”
However, the Livingstone campaign, buoyed by a poll in today’s Guardian newspaper putting him neck-and-neck with his Tory opponent, said that Londoners are concentrating on the major issues facing the city, namely crime, transport and housing.
“That’s where I’m picking up support and Boris Johnson is losing ground,” he said.
“It’s also why Boris Johnson is running scared of debate.
“I’m particularly pleased by those, in addition to Labour supporters, who have said they are going to vote for me in the first or crucial second rounds – Jonathon Porritt, Greg Dyke, and the Green Party, for example – because these are part of the progressive majority coalition that represents London against the narrow conservative one around Boris Johnson.
“Policies to improve the bus service, introduce neighbourhood policing and increase the supply of affordable homes for Londoners matter in every part of London.”
The Liberal Democrat Mayoral candidate, Brian Paddick, has pledged to give access to free transport to every person in full time higher education or skills training in London.
“London has one of the biggest gaps in the UK between the haves and the have nots,” he said.
“The way up the social ladder is education. The one thing the Mayor has absolute power over is free travel and as Mayor, I will use it absolutely.
“We live in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
“I am determined to alleviate that cost of living and to help people better their lives by allowing every person in full time higher education or skills training to have access to free travel.”
The Tory and Labour candidates have also been arguing about attendance at hustings events.
Yesterday Mr Johnson was accused of withdrawing from the Time Out hustings, which his campaign claimed “he had never agreed to attend.”
Mr Livingstone has withdrawn from the Centre for Social Justice hustings and there are questions as to whether he will attend to the No2ID event.
Five candidates for Mayor have confirmed they will attend a hustings organised by gay equality organisation Stonewall.
Mr Livingstone, Me Johnson and Mr Paddick will be joined by Green party candidate Sian Berry and Respect – The Left list candidate Lindsey German.
They will all speak and answer questions at the event at BFI Southbank on Saturday 19th April.
PinkNews.co.uk is proud to be Stonewall’s media partner for the hustings, which will be held at the between 11am and 12.30pm.
The event is open to everyone, but in order to ensure a seat you must register here.
Full list of candidates for Mayor of London:
British National Party
UK Independence Party
Christian Peoples Alliance and Christian Party
The Left List
The Stonewall hustings will be the last before Londoners go to the polls on May 1st.