Ken Livingstone’s election trail leads to Barking

Election fever has hit the borough as mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone stopped off in Barking this morning.

The former mayor who was replaced by the incumbent mayor Boris Johnson in 2008 spoke to residents in Barking Town Centre this morning as part of his election campaign trail across all 32 London boroughs.

Speaking to the Post about feedback received from Londoners so far, the Labour candidate said: “Everywhere we go in London people are really struggling. The shop keepers are hanging by their fingertips.”

Mr Livingstone said Labour would cut VAT and enable people to spend more money in shops to help boost the economy and create jobs.

He was accompanied by fellow Labour politicians John Biggs AM and Val Shawcross AM, when he gave a soapbox speech to residents, in which he promised to re-instate the recently scrapped Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for hard-strapped students.

He also pledged to cut public transport fares by seven per cent and to invest in the police, as well as to work on private rent reductions and plans to boost local economies by lowering energy bills and VAT.

On transport he said: “It looks like there is a transport surplus of �800million. The money has been sitting in the fares account. We have just got to give it back to the people.”

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According to Mr Livingstone, TfL estimates to end the current financial year with an operating surplus of �336m.

The mayor’s press team was quick to refute Ken Livingstone’s claim that a potential �729million transport surplus could be used to reduce fares.

Speaking to an audience of supporters and onlookers on the corner of Ripple Road and Station Parade, Mr Livingstone said: “Year by year, Boris Johnson has put the fares up above inflation so that we now have the highest fares in the world. I will cut fares by seven per cent by October - that will mean that the average Londoner will be �1,600 better off over four years.”

He added that Labour would “address the question of cut backs to the police”, which had lost 1,700 police post since Boris Johnson came to power, and said that he would “re-instate EMA across the board”.

The mayoral race looks set to be a close

The other candidates are Boris Johnson for the Conservatives, Brian Paddick for the Liberal Democrats, Jenny Jones for the Green Party.

The London Mayoral and Assembly election will take place on May 3. To make sure you can vote, register before April 19.

According to the latest YouGov polls on Londoners’ voting intentions, Boris Johnson currently leads with 49 per cent, while 41 per cent of voters plan to cast their votes for Ken Livingstone, and five per cent for Brian Paddick. The remaining four per cent said they were planning to vote for other candidates such as Jenny Jones of the Green Party and independent candidate Siobhan Benita.