Here's the responses from Boris Johnson, the Conservative candidate for London Mayor to the 5 questions we selected from many sent in by our readers:
1. 'The rise in income inequalities in the UK to levels not seen since the 1920s has been driven largely by the financial markets industry in the City. How would you, as Mayor of London, address this issue? Would regulation / legislation work and, if so, how?'.
I want to introduce a fresh concept for the capital - a Mayor's Fund for London. It will be based on the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, and would generate millions of pounds from London's wealth creators to distribute to a wide range of voluntary sector projects, from academic mentoring, developing skills, competitive sport, music and drama that prevent young people being sucked into crime. Londoners are well known for their generosity, and philanthropy has built some of our finest museums, open spaces and tourist attractions. This scheme would be of benefit to all involved without introducing further legislation to our burgeoning nanny state.
2. 'The Mayoral candidates appear to be more concerned about the environment, rather than the out-of-control crime rate. What do you actually intend to do to combat the high incidence of crime in London ?'.
If you look at what the campaign has done from the very beginning I think you will find that unlike the current Mayor, I have made crime my number one priority. 27 teenagers were murdered on London's streets last year and 11 murders have already taken place this year. The Home Secretary is afraid to walk the streets a night and another Labour MP (Emily Thornberry) admits that more than half of the children is her constituency have been mugged.
I want to free the police from form-filling and get them back on the streets where they can catch criminals, but more importantly, deter criminal activity by their presence. I want local police to build strong relationships with their local communities so that they can offer the best possible protection. As well as tackling low level crime such a litter and graffiti, I will release £2.6 m to fund hand-held weapon scanners. I will make designing out crime a key priority in the London Plan and the Mayor's Housing strategy to prevent creating poor-quality housing where crime flourishes, this would include ensuring that areas are well lit.
On public transport, I will double the strength of Safer Transport Teams, by releasing funding for approximately 440 extra PCSOs to patrol the buses and 50 more fully-warranted British Transport Police officers to patrol the worst suburban stations. I will trial live CCTV on buses so that the police can respond more rapidly in urgent cases. Under 18s who abuse their free travel privileges will have their free travel privilege removed and will be able to earn them back through doing community service through my Payback London scheme.
I also want to free young people from the vicious cycle of crime by spending money from the LDA and from the Mayor's Fund for London as outlined above. Many of London's youth suffer from a poverty of aspiration and it should be a priority for the Mayor to address this.
3. 'Over the last decade, there has been an increasing tendency for national and local government to use the tax codes, fees and charges, penalties, political correctness and targeted legislation to micro-manage the behaviour of every man, woman and child in London (and throughout the UK). Most of these encroachments are not the legitimate functions of government, and their unintended consequences are often worse than the so-called ills they are intended to alleviate. Specifically, what do you intend to do to hold back the tide of the 'nanny-state', and restore the freedoms, choices, and market forces that made this City (and our country) great ?'.
I couldn't agree more, and I have spoken out against burgeoning state control a number of times before. For the current Mayor to suggest that he is responsible for London's ascent on the world's financial stage is somewhat disingenuous. I want to facilitate rather than legislate; work with, rather than against London's stakeholders. Unlike the current Mayor, I don't want to set quotas and ride roughshod over locally elected councils but work with them to deliver the best services and value for money for Londoners.
4. 'How do you intend to ease the pressure on London's Social Services / Healthcare / Education Authorities / Police caused by the increasing flux of immigrants ?'.
Immigration has been of great economic and cultural benefit to this city. However there are important concerns, especially over the consequences for public services, housing and community relations.
This financial year, 29 of London's 32 councils have received a below inflation financial settlement, putting the provision of vital services in jeopardy. The Government needs to accept that they have lost control on keeping track on how many people are already here and how many people are coming in as their figures do not tally with the reality on the ground. London needs a new Mayor who will stand up to the Government, and ensure that London's councils receive the right level of funding.
But the most important thing is that the Mayor should, instead of seeking to divide communities and play one against the other, be working tirelessly to promote understanding, integration and harmony.
5. 'If you were granted one additional power - either from Central Government or Local Authorities - what would you want that to be ? Why ? And what would you do with that power ?'.
Roadworks are a major obstacle to keeping London's traffic moving; particularly those which run over their allotted time or are undertaken at short notice.
There is a particular problem with roadworks undertaken by utility companies. TfL's own figures show that over the last two years, the duration of roadworks by these companies has almost doubled.
Regulations for a London Permit Scheme made under the Traffic Management Act 2004 have just come into force. This will enable TfL to set specific rules for works carried out on their roads, with which utility companies will have to comply in order to be granted a permit. However, in the event of rules being broken, TfL's only recourse will be a lengthy court case.
There is a simple solution: the Government should give the Mayor the power to issue immediate Fixed Penalty Notices to utility companies who break the rules. I will urge the Government to do this in the interests of all road users.