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Conservative candidate hits back at Labour

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Angie Bray, Conservative candidate for Ealing Central and Acton, has repied to Bassam Mahfouz's latest comments on transport issues (see box, right).  We reprint her viewpoint below:

As I wrote on a couple of weeks ago, London Mayor, Boris Johnson, is facing a £1.9 billion deficit in funding over the next three years. The economic mismanagement of the former Mayor, Ken Livingstone, has left him with a massive financial black hole that has to be dealt with on top of the effect of the recession which has cut tube fares revenue by 6%. Tackling this deficit now is responsible governance. What Cllr. Mahfouz proposes is a return to the way Mr. Livingstone ran London.

He suggests that the abolition of the Western Extension to the Congestion Charge Zone should be scrapped in order to preserve the revenue it raises. Yet this disregards the views of Londoners who were resounding in their opposition to the scheme.

Next, Cllr. Mahfouz outlines his support for Ken Livingstone's proposal to impose a £25 daily charge on large cars inside the Congestion Charge Zone. The reason why this was rejected is because it would have directly hit families who drive larger cars like Ford Mondeos and Vauxhall Vectras to fit the family in. It is misleading of him to suggest that it would bring in £50 million in annual revenue, as this presupposes that every owner of a car attracting the £25 charge would keep their large car and still make the same number of journeys into the Congestion Charge Zone. In any case, as Mr. Livingstone said himself, the motivation behind this charge proposal is to "green" behavior, not to scoop in loads of extra revenue.

Cllr. Mahfouz then suggests that we should keep the bendy-buses introduced by Mr. Livingstone instead of replacing them with new, more environmentally-friendly double decker buses. What he fails to appreciate is that most Londoners - motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike - are united in their dislike of the dangerous bendy-bus.

His final point is to accuse Conservative politicians of not supporting the Freedom Pass. But Boris Johnson has not only pledged his support for the Freedom Pass, he has extended the hours in which it can be used to 24 hours everyday. Moreover, Ealing Conservative Councillors have made it clear that the Pass will continue to be funded by a Conservative-led council. In fact, the only threat to its future is from this Labour Government, which has slashed financial support for the scheme by around half to the London councils who fund it.

Cllr. Mahfouz states that his ability to stand up to Boris Johnson demonstrates his leadership qualities. But where was he, or indeed any of his Labour councillor colleagues, when London’s former Mayor, Ken Livingstone, was trying to ram the tram through Ealing and Acton despite the anguish this plan caused for so many local residents and businesses along the route? They didn't stand up for the community against Ken, they supported his tram! I call that followship not leadership. In the end residents took their own stand and voted in a Conservative-led Council which opposed the tram from the start. The tram was dropped soon after - no thanks to Cllr. Mahfouz and the Labour group who then tried to pretend they had opposed it all along!

Angie Bray
Conservative candidate for Ealing Central and Acton

January 7th, 2010