Lib Dem candidate for London Mayor, Caroline Pidgeon, says race is still open

Lib Dem candidate Caroline Pidgeon for the London mayor election

Lib Dem candidate Caroline Pidgeon for the London mayor election - Credit: Archant

Having been involved in London politics for 18 years the Liberal Democrat candidate in the capital’s mayoral election wants to show Londoners she has a “credible” plan to improve their city.

“I know City Hall inside out and I know first hand the issues Londoners are facing,” Caroline Pidgeon told the Recorder.

A councillor in Southwark for 12 years, Mrs Pidgeon is a member of the London Assembly, where she specialises in transport, policing and crime.

Mrs Pidgeon has made giving “a massive boost” to the housing stock one of her top priorities.

“The difference between me and the other candidates is that I have a way to fund it,” she said.

If elected, Mrs Pidgeon has pledged to invest £2bn in building new homes – including 15,000 in her first year and 50,000 affordable homes within four years.

To finance the project, she would replace the annual £20 Olympic precept imposed on each household to finance London 2012 by a housing levy of a similar amount.

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“This is a price worth paying to be able to pay for the homes we need,” she said.

By ensuring each Londoner has “a warm, safe and secure” home and improving conditions of living and general well-being, Mrs Pidgeon believes inequality can be addressed.

The new homes would be delivered on available land – that is not green belt – by a building company set-up by City Hall. A construction academy would train people to fill these jobs.

Mrs Pidgeon wants to offer young people equal opportunities by setting-up a London-wide career service.

Additional apprenticeship schemes will match young people with opportunities.

Mrs Pidgeon believes key to attracting new businesses to east London is remaining in the EU.

“Businesses are not going to want to invest in London if we vote to get out of the EU,” she said.

Keen to make the city more cycling friendly, Mrs Pidgeon wants to reduce the number of vehicles on London roads, starting with the number of lorries crossing the capital during rush hours.

“Some places in outer boroughs have a huge potential in getting people onto their bikes to go to the park, to the gym or even to work,” she said.

The aspiring mayor would introduce a tax on diesel vehicles driving through the congestion charge zone in central London and will be looking at rolling out the scheme to all boroughs.

She hopes the this will help to improve the air quality, which she described as a “real issue” in parts of London.

Having made tackling crime one of her priorities, the Lib Dem candidate wants to invest more resources into the police force and particularly PCSOs, who she believes are closer to communities.

“It is also very important that we invest in our police force,” she added. “PCSOs are often who residents will talk to – more than to police officers.

“They are often more diverse and effective in tackling crime in London.

“They provide a huge amount of information and intelligence to the police force,” she added.

Mrs Pidgeon called on all knife charities to go into schools and educate young people about the dangers of carrying a knife.

She believes education is key in addressing the gang problem in east London.

As mayor, she would also ensure two youth workers are present in all A&E departments across London to provide assistance and support to young people treated as the result of stabbing or gang violence.

The mother of one said there is “a huge problem” in the provision of school and nursery places across the capital and has promised to work with each borough to find ways to provide affordable childcare.

Adamant she has her place in the race, Mrs Pidgeon believes anything can still happen.

“This election is absolutely wide open.

“None of the candidates are particularly known – not like we had much higher profile candidates in the past.”

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