In the 2nd part of our series - Mayoral Candidate Zac Goldsmith MP answers key questions on London.
1) What is your top priority for London?
Making homes more affordable. Londoners work hard but more and more can't buy or rent anywhere decent to live. We need a relentless focus on releasing publicly owned brownfield land for development, putting empty homes back on the market, making a London-first bias for new developments and cracking down on high rents so Londoners are not denied the chance of saving for a deposit to own their own home. If we are to deliver the level of new homes required, we need the consent of communities, and that means working with, not against them.
2) What was Boris Johnson's best policy?
Securing good deals for Londoners from No 10. Under his leadership we have seen record investment in transport, resulting in safer, faster and more reliable commutes. And despite financial pressures, crime has also fallen, with murder and burglary rates at record lows. He has delivered for Londoners on these because he has been able to negotiate good deals with No 10 for London. To build on his progress, and not put it at risk, the next Mayor has to be able to continue this strong record. I and many west London residents will also always be grateful to Boris for sticking to his word and holding strong against Heathrow’s third runway.
3) Who is your favourite figure from London's history?
Sir Christopher Wren was a creative genius, who gave London some of its most iconic buildings, including St Paul's Cathedral. Very few people can claim responsibility for creating so much beauty. But there are so many Londoners who have, and continue to make, London the great city it is.
4) Where is your favourite spot in London?
London’s great parks mark it out from other world cities and Richmond Park, where I grew up, is the icing on the cake. It is why I fought so hard for my constituents to stop plans to introduce parking charges in the Park, so that Londoners, especially families, can continue to enjoy it for free.
5) How will you get grassroots Conservative activists involved in your Mayoral campaign?
The same way I got them involved in my local campaigns in Richmond and Kingston: by combining a real sense of political purpose with a spirit of fun and enthusiasm. London is a happier and more prosperous place with a Conservative Mayor and I'll work hard for whoever is selected.
6) What was Ken Livingston's worst policy?
Ken is a talented politician and I admire his willingness to speak his mind. But he was divisive and London is always happier and stronger when united.
7) How would you help Londoners on low incomes?
London needs to be more liveable for all Londoners. Bringing the costs of basic things like transport, housing and childcare within the reach of ordinary people is vital. That means continuing Boris’s record of securing good deals from central Government. I'm also determined that violence, theft and anti-social behaviour which disproportionately harm less affluent people should be a major priority for the police.
8) Congestion Charge: for or against expansion in West London?
Boris’s removal of the western extension is another example of a Conservative City Hall delivering on its promises and I don’t support simply going back to where we were under Ken Livingstone. However air pollution is back as a major public health issue - with a million Londoners living in areas that exceed legal limits on NO2. Boris has begun the process of tackling this. No other world city has a Low Emission Zone and plans for an Ultra Low Emission Zone on top of existing congestion charging. We need to strengthen and accelerate these plans as a priority.
9) Do you have a favourite London pub?
The Canbury Arms in Kingston
10) Tube automation: where do you stand?
The priority is safety, reliability and affordability. If tube automation delivers these, then I would push ahead with it. We have seen record levels of investment in London’s transport network over the last seven years. But London’s population is growing faster than ever before and we need to continue that investment just to keep up. Continuing to secure the right deal is key to ensuring Londoner’s commutes are even safer, faster, cleaner and more reliable, while also bearing down on the cost of travel. That means continuing to improve and expand the network and embracing advances in technology, such as Tube automation, to ensure we make the system more efficient.
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