Given the impending London Mayoral elections and the fact that us at Urban Times have already interviewed Boris and Ken about what they’d do for London, we turn to London’s Green Party candidate, Jenny Jones, to see what she envisages for our capital city.
Stephanie: What green spaces around London do you have plans to improve if you become Mayor?
Jenny: I want to improve, maintain and expand green spaces in London. One of my specific priorities is to work towards removing motor traffic and petrol leaf blowers from London’s parks, starting with the Royal Parks. I would also make sure that the All London Green Grid was able to make significant progress. It’s a network of green spaces, from wonderful rough habitat for birds, insects and small mammals, to sleek grass, or busy allotments.
Being opposed to nuclear power, what energy source would you back and how do you hope on doing this?
First, we need to reduce our energy needs by helping households across London to insulate and reduce their demand. This saves people lots of money, reduces their carbon emissions and reduces the need for energy companies to create more expensive infrastructure.
Secondly, the remaining energy that we do need should come from a well planned renewable energy mix consisting of technologies such as biogas from anaerobic digesters as well as solar and wind power generation. It’s a complex problem, needing a complex mix of solutions.
How will you keep to your promise stated in your manifesto for public transport to always remain cheaper than driving?
We will introduce a pay-as-you-drive charge for London. The income from this will go towards maintaining an affordable public transport system. We will also lobby Government to bring all commuter rail services under the control of Transport for London ensuring all profits are channeled back into improving the service for Londoners.
Could you explain what the pay as you drive charge involves?
The principle is simple: motorists should pay based on the amount they drive. New Sat Nav technology means it is straightforward to implement. Using an Oyster-like system, it would cover the whole of Greater London, and target those who use their cars the most, at the most busy times of day and in the most congested areas. Replacing the existing congestion charge, it is fairer, with motorists paying according to their actual level of car use. The anomaly whereby a person who spends all day driving around central London pays the same as someone who makes a five-minute journey on the edge of the congestion zone is eliminated.
As well as cutting congestion right across London, it would also provide over £1 bn a year in much needed revenue to reduce fares and invest in the public transport system. This is new money which isn’t available under the proposals of any other party. Nor would the financial benefits stop there. A decrease in air pollution levels would help avoid impending air quality fines from the EU which look likely to cost us hundreds of millions of pounds – money which isn’t currently budgeted for. This in addition to the potential benefits from increased inward investment to London, previously discouraged by our poor transport infrastructure.
How are you still so confident you are going to be Mayor [said in an interview with the Evening Standard] despite the polls showing that only 2-3% of Londoners are backing you?
Stranger things have happened, look at the current incumbent! Whatever happens, whether I am elected Mayor or carry on in my current position as London Assembly Member, I will work tirelessly for London and strive to create a green and healthy city for all Londoners where its residents benefit from affordable housing and public transport.
If you don’t become Mayor what are you going to do impact politics anyway?
I will work towards holding the Mayor and the Assembly accountable, campaign to have green policies implemented and continue to fulfill the responsibilities given to me by Londoners. Read our manifesto and you’ll see we do all we can to make all those simple, radical, practical things happen.
The Green Party’s manifesto suggests increasing corporation tax from 28% to 30%. How will you then avoid driving business away from London?
I don’t believe the proposed increase in corporation tax will drive business away from London. Large corporations are already making huge profits and they have a responsibility to contribute some of this for the privilege of operating in our great city. Furthermore, I believe we need to give incentives to small and medium-sized businesses so that they can thrive, creating jobs and providing a much needed boost to the economy.
How do you minimize your carbon footprint in your day to day life?
I don’t own a car. I walk, cycle and use public transport. I try to be energy efficient, I recycle and have the most efficient carbon neutral wood-burning stove. I believe all Londoners can do something to reduce their carbon footprint.
Why have you ‘given up on Boris’? [according to your Twitter]
Boris has been a terrible Mayor for London. He has consistently reneged on his manifesto promises and overseen huge rises in rents and house prices while incomes for average Londoners have remained stagnant. Costs of public transport have risen in the same period when he abolished the western extension of the congestion charge. London remains polluted and Boris has abandoned his previous plan to increase the amount of electric vehicles in London. Instead he is reverting to underhand tactics to falsely reduce pollution readings at monitoring stations. London really deserves something better.
Do you wear ecologically sustainable clothing?
I buy very few clothes. Some of them are ecologically sustainable.
Do you think media today is doing a good job of pushing forward the environmental agenda?
I think some parts of the media have been very conscientious in pushing forward the environmental agenda. However, many more have shamelessly neglected the subject. Tackling climate change and preserving the environment is incredibly important and the media have a responsibility to play their part.
Who are you voting for this Thursday?