Ken Livingstone answers the questions that were submitted to him by readers of Greenwich.co.uk
If you're elected, what will happen to the New Bus for London? Have you been on one and what do you think of it?
The new bus is not for London, but only operates on the number 38 route. It is the most costly bus scheme ever at the a cost of nearly £1.6 million per bus – eight times the cost of a conventional £190,000 double-decker. So I will not be continuing with this gigantic waste of money. I will be investing in much cheap, more fuel efficient buses and will eventually replace the entire fleet with electric buses, which will see a significant improvement in the air quality in London. Currently, poor air quality is killing more than 4,000 Londoners a year prematurely, and the Tory mayor's response, incredibly, is to spray a sticky substance near the air quality monitoring stations to try to get the reading down.
What will you do to support river bus services to and from Greenwich, and can you help make using them cheaper with your fare deal policy?
My Fare Deal fares cut will save average fare payers £1,000 over 4 years, so I am very keen for the residents of Greenwich to benefit from that on public transport. But the river bus services are privately operated. They are very expensive and not very reliable. I will look at the licensing arrangements of the river bus operators and see if it's possible to get a better deal for fare payers who use them.
It has been reported recently that over 200 Metropolitan Police detectives will be investigating phone hacking next year, the equivalent of eight murder squads. Do you think this is a sensible use of police resources?
All crimes should be investigated. In this case it seems as if one global news organisation had ministers at their beck and call and anxious to help them commercially, with Tory ministers helping News Corporation when they should have been regulating them. Boris Johnson found time to attend a News International board meeting - but then, he meets bankers and media moguls more than he meets the police. Rather than telling to ease off on investigation of his friends the Murdochs and his Tory cabinet chums, Boris should have been meeting the Met to talk about rising crime. Knife crime has been rising across London over the last 3 years. he has also admitted cutting the police numbers. I have pledged to restore them.
Last year Green Party Mayoral candidate Jenny Jones was reported as saying that it was “ludicrous” for the Metropolitan Police to assist the parents of Madeleine McCann in the search for their daughter. Would the candidates agree with me that this was a crass and insensitive remark and that it is perfectly proper for the British Police to be involved in this case?
As I said previously, all crimes should be investigated. I don't like to criticise other candidates for one-off remarks they might later regret- I've made a few of those myself in my time! But politicians should be really held to account when they persist with words can affect the situation in a way that risks danger or violence. After the 7/7 bombing Boris Johnson said it was all the fault of Islam. These were crass, insensitive and potentially dangerous words- which he did not later retract. Thankfully, most people in London don't share those views and we avoided the type of inter-communal violence that other cities have seen.
Will you bring back The Londoner newspaper?
No. The paper was good at promoting events and providing information, which brought visitors to London, increased jobs and kept Londoners informed. Now all that can be done online. The total cut in government funding of the London Development Agency was £300 million per year. Boris Johnson has welcomed this cut, calling it 'waste'. This was money that promoted investment and tourism in London, which the Greenwich economy needs, and it also supported funding for childcare which helped families into work. I will argue for London's fair share of funding. After all, it's the powerhouse of the national economy and if it doesn't receive proper funding, everyone will suffer.
Will you keep the alcohol ban on London transport?
Yes. I will also ensure that is properly enforced. It's no good introducing a policy that is right for London, but then cutting funding the the police to implement it, as Boris Johnson has done. According to the MOPC website there are just 620 officers in Greenwich by January of this year- that's down from 705 in 2010 http://www.london.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=8751
If the cable car is completed, do you think it has a long term future or do you expect it be financially unsustainable?
The Tory mayor promised that the cable car would be financed without a penny of taxpayers money. Now we find that it almost exclusively public money- a massive vanity project for the mayor when he could have invested much more productively in the transport network. It is very unlikely ever to be financially viable, and a permanent drain on resources.
Please can you put your sums for all election pledges online before election day so all residents can review them?
I have a whole series of pledges which will make Londoners better off. You can find out how they benefit you at http://www.betteroffcalculator.com/
And finally, Why do you think the people of Greenwich should support you in these elections?
This is a serious election, at a time when people are really struggling. The real issue is who will make you better off? Boris Johnson has shown he is a true blue Tory, with inflation-busting fares increases that are completely unnecessary. Labour values are to support people when times are hard, and my pledge to cut fares will make London's fare payers £1,000 better off.