The Mayoral candidates - A View from the London Assembly
Richard Barnes tells Ealing Today why Boris is his choice
Having shared City Hall with both Boris and Ken for the last 11 years the difference between the two is stark.
While Ken was divisive and quarrelsome, Boris’ nature is warm and affable. He’s a mayor who tries to build bridges and gain consensus with supporters and opponents alike. However, Londoners have come to realise that just beneath the surface lies a powerful intellect and a steely determination to get things done.
Since Boris’ election, London has had a record number of police officers and almost every type of crime has fallen. Murders in London are at there lowest rate since 1978 and are four times lower than in New York.
The Metropolitan Police, like all public sector bodies, is having to make saving. Yet, because keeping Londoners safe is Boris’ top priority, he’s investing an extra £42m in front-line policing. So, while other forces are reducing staff, there will be more front-line police officers patrolling London’s streets in 2012, when Boris finishes his first-term, than in 2008 when he took over from Ken.
Boris has also made using public transport far safer. There are now 413 full-time warranted officers active on the capital’s bus and tube network. Their impact has been dramatic. Crime on buses has fallen by a whopping 30 per cent, and incidents across the entire network have dropped by over ten per cent.
But improvements don’t stop at safety; the Mayor has fought tooth-and-nail with the Government to secure the Tube upgrade and the full £16bn for Crossrail. This will ensure that Londoners, and residents of Ealing, will be able to move freely around our city for years to come. Clearly, all the problems with the Tube have not been resolved yet, but the Mayor’s hard-bargaining has guaranteed investment in the Tube so Underground services will improve.
This is been achieved without a penny’s increase on the council tax precept - frozen by Boris for the past three years. The Mayor’s conscientious use of Londoners’ money is a relief from the eye-watering 152 per cent increases under Livingstone, which saddled people in ‘Band D’ homes with a £311 bill every year.
Ken’s lax approach to money saw costs at Transport for London spiral, created a £3bn black-hole in its finances, and left nothing to complete the elevators at Greenford station. He presided over record fare increases of 26 per cent in two years for buses and eight per cent on the Tube.
Livingstone tries to present himself as a ‘man of the people’. But how can anyone who understands ordinary people’s concerns hike bus fares, double council tax and base his campaign centre in the head office of the militant TSSA trade union? Especially after the nine strikes in the second half of 2010 brought chaos to Underground and caused huge disruption to Londoners’ lives.
Boris has got more than a year to go, but he already has a proud record of delivering for London. He has cut crime, secured Tube improvements, protected green spaces and built new affordable homes. He has steered London through Labour’s recession, shielded it from the spending squeeze and protected front-line services by slashing the bloated bureaucracy he inherited.
In May 2012 Londoners will be given a choice - a return to tired old Livingstone’s tax hikes; or back Boris, who’s bursting with ideas and has the drive and dynamism to take London forward.
Ealing's London Assembly Member.
24th February 2011