Candidates for Mayor face tough questions

It s a tough road with gruelling schedules for the London mayoral candidates. And this week, the Ham&High has presented them with their toughest challenge yet – taking on our readers. Questions on the main issues facing Barnet, Camden and Westminster

It's a tough road with gruelling schedules for the London mayoral candidates. And this week, the Ham&High has presented them with their toughest challenge yet - taking on our readers.

Questions on the main issues facing Barnet, Camden and Westminster were put forward by leading community figures to all four major candidates in the London race. Katie Davies reports.

We believe there should be a reversal on legislation introduced which restricted the width of protected viewing corridors from Hampstead Heath. What will you do about this law? (Tony Hillier, chairman of the Heath and Hampstead Society)

Brian Paddick: “I will repeal it - we have got to protect our historic vistas. There is plenty of skyline to go around without cutting half the width of these viewing corridors.”

Ken Livingstone: “Fifteen years ago the government very hurriedly designated viewing corridors so wide no-one paid any attention to them. We went for narrower views which are enforced and kept sacrosanct from any development. They won't block the views of St Paul's and Westminster.”

Boris Johnson: “I think it is quite wrong that we are salami slicing our historic views. We can perfectly house tall buildings in the capital without ruining them - I want to go back to the viewing corridor guidelines of the early 90s.”

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Sian Berry: “Narrowing the corridors is very dangerous. All it takes is one building to block out a corner of St Paul's and other developments can then justify blocking more and more of it.”

Police station closures will lead to a reduction of services but their greater impact will be on the destruction of communities. What actions will the candidates take on this? (Pam Gilby, chairwoman of the South End Green Association)

SB: “We seem to be consistently having to defend local facilities like police stations or post offices. We need more officers on the streets and we need bases for them - and they are local police stations.”

BJ: “People need the reassurance of having a local police station. As mayor I am going to take the chairmanship of the Metropolitan Police Authority and review the whole strategy.”

KL: “Since I became mayor no police station has been closed without one replacing it in the vicinity. Hampstead police station is a lovely building but is 100 years old and can't carry on. It won't close without a replacement.”

BP: “The Met estate strategy is ill-conceived and ill-thought through. If operational police officers had been asked their views it would have simply never got off the ground. These closures are going to make London less safe.”

What can the mayor do to improve youth provision in London? (Luca Salice, Kentish Town education campaigner)

KL: “I have been given £19million by the government to extend youth provision and I have added £20m to that. Margaret Thatcher changed the law so there was no duty for local councils to provide youth provision - so they stopped doing it. This will massively expand everything including weekend activities, after-school clubs and activities which promote self respect among young people.”

BP: “Only after eight years as mayor does Ken Livingstone come up with additional money for youths. This is a late contribution from the mayor who keeps blaming Margaret Thatcher for the problem. We need a mayor who looks to the future for solutions not to the past for excuses.”

BJ: “I can do much better than Ken. I will match whatever he is giving and set up a mayor's fund which will allow the wealth creating sector - finance and business and anyone who wants to contribute - to supply money. This will be a fantastic contribution for youth provision.”

SB: “Where I live there are lots of children who hang around on the road. It's not that it bothers me - but it can't be a fun thing for them to do. A lot of youth services have been cut in Camden since the Tories and Lib Dems took over the council. We can't be surprised if there is an increase in gang culture because of that. We need to provide an alternative.”

What can be done to improve confidence in our police and reduce fear of crime? (Yasmin Allen, vice-chairwoman of the Haverstock Safer Neighbourhood Panel)

BJ: “I want regular meetings with the borough commanders, public meetings every month, mobile scanners for combating knife and gun crime - and live CCTV on buses. Camden has 800 officers, but only has 80 out at a time. I want to help police get officers out on the streets.”

SB: “Boris Johnson says he wants live CCTV on buses but how will he fund people to keep an eye on it? What would really reassure people is more community policing. We need more officers and more shifts and can get the money by reducing policing on demonstrations and charging football teams for the policing they get.”

BP: “I found when I was police commander being open and honest with people about crime levels went a long way to build trust and confidence. The British Crime Survey, which questions 2,500 Londoners a year, says crime is not going down in London.”

KL: “A year ago we rolled out safer neighbourhood teams and crime keeps falling. Officers know the kids in trouble by name - we haven't had that kind of close community policing for 30 years. There are media reports on crime but these need to be balanced by the news that crime levels are down by 20 per cent. Only then can people get the real benefit of a reduction of this climate of fear.”