Mayor hopefuls fight for every last street

Once again Ham&High readers give the mayoral candidates some tough questions. This week the front runners grapple with issues put forward by leaders in the community. Katie Davies reports

Once again Ham&High readers give the mayoral candidates some tough questions. This week the front runners grapple with issues put

forward by leaders in the community. Katie Davies reports

In a loading bay in The Market Place, Hampstead Garden Suburb, residents have paid millions in fines because it is not properly signposted by Transport for London (TfL). The Residents Association put up signs to warn people and TfL took them down. What would you do to deal with this? (David Lewis, chairman of the Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents Association)

Ken Livingstone: "The only routes the mayor has power on is red routes and we collect less in fines on them than Westminster and Camden councils. For London to function we can't let people block loading bays. However, if people feel this particular space isn't signposted well enough, they can write to me and I will look into it."

Brian Paddick: "This is absolutely outrageous and typical of the way in which the mayor is running his current administration. He doesn't really care about Londoners or common sense. I have met some of the so-called experts on the board of TfL and I'm not surprised it's in the mess it is in. They have no concept of what is best."

Sian Berry: "The signs need to be better for drivers in London and I think we need a new system. Why don't we have something like green lines for spaces you can park in? I think TfL is quite well run but, like anyone collecting fines, they have to be really careful there is no confusion for people. My sister visits me every couple of months in her car and we use the visitor permits from Camden. Every time we get it wrong and have to pay a £60 fine, it's so complicated it's crazy."

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Boris Johnson: "I think it's outrageous - this mentality of clobbering the motorist. Ken Livingstone is like that dragon in the Hobbit, Smaug, and he's surrounded by a huge mountain of fines. Transport for London has 22,000 employees and many are paid more than £100,000 a year but it has far from fulfilled its targets. There are a good deal of decent people there, but it needs reforming."

Camden Town is the most popular tourist destination for young people in London. What would you do to protect it? (Simon Pitkeathley, chief executive of business lobby Camden Town Unlimited)

BJ: "I love Camden Town. I would give it amazing mayoral support. I have been around there twice recently and it's fantastic - the way it gives individual stallholders the space to develop their business. It's like an incubator for entrepreneurship. I think it should be the model for other markets across London."

BP: "Clearly Camden Town is a major tourist attraction. It needs to be preserved and we have to do everything we can to make sure it recovers from the fire which took place earlier this year."

KL: "It's like these completely appalling proposals to turn Covent Garden into a Selfridges without a roof. This kind of thing is not what Covent Garden or Camden Town is about. People go there because there are wonderful old buildings and a sense of what has been there before, then on top of that you have this culture throbbing and thriving out of it. We don't want a homogenised London, where you can't tell which bit you're in. That's why I'm backing the buskers in Covent Garden too."

SB: "I've been involved in the campaign around the new tube station, keeping the market behind it safe as well as the Electric Ballroom, and we shouldn't let the Stables development be like one big Gap. We want the spaces for small start-up businesses and market traders and the Green Party is committed to that nationally."

Will the mayor's new planning powers take away decision-making from local authorities and local people? (John Falding, Former Chairman of the St Marylebone Society)

SB: "I do agree with the mayor's new powers. There is a real difference between local authorities at the moment on affordable housing. Even though Ken has a 50 per cent target there's a real variation between boroughs on how much they are building. We need a consistent approach on this across London."

BJ: "I want to work with the boroughs. I don't want to impose rabbit hutch flats on people's back gardens. I will be a mayor who works with the boroughs not against them."

BP: "Local people are in the best position to make decisions on planning and democratically elected local officials best understand the environment rather than the London mayor. The Lib Dems are very much in favour of local democracy."

KL: "The big challenge for the mayor at the moment is he can only intervene on a development which is for 500 homes. These powers will reduce it to a development of 150 homes. When I was first elected there were 16,000 homes being built and only 6,000 for social housing. With our 50 per cent affordable homes target that has gone up to 32,000 homes being built and 13,500 for social housing - so we are really helping to prevent the housing crisis. We've also got to get the balance right between housing and employment space with open and play space. Under our new London plan any new housing has to provide play space."

The issue over a polyclinic being introduced in Crouch End next year shows a 'supersizing' of community facilities. What do the candidates think about polyclinics? (Sue Hessell, chair of the Haslemere Road Residents Association)

SB: "This is a much needed third tier of the NHS and I'm not against more surgical services being offered in smaller units away from hospitals. However, the way it has been implemented is not like that. It should be an extra level not a replacement so in principle I agree with them, but not with the way they have been introduced."

BP: "We need to have a combination of different types of medical care, but what we can't do without is local GPs who are situated in the community. The last thing we want is people travelling a long distance to seek medical attention, particularly older people. Polyclinics may be part of the overall scheme for London's health, but it must not be at the expense of the local GP or decent local hospitals."

KL: "I think polyclinics are a good idea provided they are built before anything is closed. The idea that we could have a system where we wouldn't have a long wait at A&E would be brilliant, but the problem is we have had these promises so many times before and they have never been provided."

BJ: "The case still needs to be made for polyclinics. There are a lot of concerns about losing the connection with our GPs, which is an integral part of what works in our health system."

o Next week the candidates answer questions on truancy and keeping pedestrians safer.