Free public transport for young people and drug reform are among the priorities announced by the Green Party's newly-unveiled candidate for Mayor of London.

Zoë Garbett was announced as the party’s candidate on February 10, saying she was “really excited” to have been selected to fight the contest in May 2024. 

Ms Garbett, who currently represents Dalston on Hackney Council, outlined several key campaign focuses. 

On drug reform, the 35-year-old said: “Our current drug laws are killing people. They’re inappropriately criminalising young people, [and] they’re used as a tool against our young people.” 

She said law changes were needed at a government level, but added that there was “lots that we could be doing at a local level to make sure we’re taking a public health approach, we’re being compassionate, we’re de-prioritising the policing of cannabis”. 

The Green candidate said she wanted to introduce free public transport for young people in London, as well as enhanced rights for renters, to stop people “being squeezed out of the city”. 

She added that holding the police to account would be another key priority of her campaign, and was “a really important issue for Londoners, who do not feel safe by the police.” 

Romford Recorder: Zoë Garbett launching her campaign for Mayor of LondonZoë Garbett launching her campaign for Mayor of London (Image: LDRS)

Ms Garbett said she supports Labour mayor Sadiq Khan’s expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), but that a more generous support package was needed than the £110m scrappage scheme announced by Mr Khan last week. 

Mr Khan has come under increasing pressure from several outer London borough councils over the ULEZ expansion plan, including a threat of potential legal action. 

Ms Garbett said that if elected, her approach would involve “listening to Londoners and appreciating that that transition might be hard for people, and seeing how we can make that as easy as possible”. 

She added: “I understand that the areas that have been slow to support the ULEZ have also been slow to support the other measures that will help people transition away from their cars. 

“I think that’s the difficult thing – and that’s what people found difficult with Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. There was limited consultation and people felt like they weren’t given the tools. 

“In Hackney, it was around bicycle storage – people were saying, ‘I would cycle but I’ve got nowhere safe and secure to keep my bike, I can’t keep it in my flat.’ 

“It’s just [about] listening to those concerns and us doing as much as we can to make those transitions easy.” 

Assessing Mr Khan’s record as mayor, Ms Garbett said: “We’re really passionate about addressing the climate emergency and think that some measures that the current mayor has taken have been slow or inconsistent with that, like the Silvertown Tunnel… 

“There’s lots that’s been done, but lots more which our Assembly Members have been holding him to account on.” 

Next year’s election will be the first time that the mayor will be selected through the first past the post (FPTP) voting system, introduced by the Conservative government. 

Previous elections for the London mayoralty had used the supplementary vote system, with voters choosing a first and second-preference candidate for mayor. 

In 2021, about three times as many Green voters gave their second-preference vote to Mr Khan as they did to the Conservative candidate, Shaun Bailey – which was a key factor towards the Labour mayor’s re-election that year. 

Caroline Russell, Green group leader on the London Assembly, said: “Zoë is just going to be the most fantastic candidate for mayor. She knows our policies inside out, she knows how we work, how we bring Londoners’ voices into City Hall and turn that into policy campaigns and real change on the ground.” 

Romford Recorder: Caroline RussellCaroline Russell (Image: Ben Lynch)

The Greens have also announced their candidates for the proportionally-elected part of the London Assembly, with the three existing Assembly Members at the top of the list, and Ms Garbett in fourth place. 

In 2021, Green candidate Siân Berry came third in the mayoral race with 7.8 per cent of the vote – and Ms Russell admitted it would be difficult to pull off an outright win next year. 

She said: “It’s going to be a tough thing, but [with] the mayor campaign, it’s part of the campaign to get Assembly members. We’d love to get four Assembly members, we think that’s achievable, and we might even go for five.”