Ken answers your questions on things Chiswick
Congestion charging, Turnham Green tube, Council Tax rises, graffiti and more issues covered by London's Mayor
Itís too early yet to talk about definite plans to extend the zone, even
to areas adjoining the current zone. Certainly the scheme has proved successful
so far in reducing the traffic coming into central London, and it may
well be the case that in the future that we will consider with the boroughs
immediately adjoining the current zone the potential merits of extending
the zone. But before that happens we need to have a full picture of what
the impact of the scheme has been so far and there are no plans in place
to extend the zone at this early stage.
"Recently, I had the pleasure of a stay in Chiswick. I used the Underground nearly everyday. I was struck by the long waits at Chiswick's Turnham Green station. Commuters waited for District Line trains while watching as many as a half-dozen Piccadilly trains carry through the station without stopping. Turnham Green Station is a major station if "major" is defined by the number of customers it serves. Given its importance, the reliable Piccadilly trains should stop at Turnham Green station. Sometimes a visitor can see the beauty or absurdity of a situation in a locality better than persons who have become habituated to it by living there for an extended period of time."
Ken Livingstone Ė As Iím sure youíre aware the Government has not yet handed over control of the tube to my transport body, Transport for London. This will happen soon and once we do have control of the tube we will be able to examine specific issues at stations across the network, but at the moment TfL has no plans to change the position at Turnham Green.
- It might not surprise you to hear that the recent rise in Council Tax
was a subject that generated some lively responses. Stefka Regelous
asked the following, "I was astounded to see a nearly 30% increase
of council tax for Greater London Authority. This is on top of being among
the highest council tax payers not only in London, but in the country,
already. How do you justify that? And what will you offer us for in exchange?"
Ken Livingstone - In fact, despite large overall increases in council tax in many boroughs, my portion of the bill is very small. The average household will only be paying 97p more as a result of my budget. Of this only 49p a year - less than 1p a week - will go to the Greater London Authority.
Of the rest, £28.54 a year (less than 55p a week) goes to the Police, £11.25 a year (less than 22p a week) goes to the Fire Authority and £10.24 a year (less than 20p a week) goes to transport.
Three quarters of this increase will go towards increasing police resources. Before my first budget as Mayor there were 389 police officers in Chiswick. At the end of this year there will be 470 and the target for the end of 2003/4 is 484. On top of this there will be 30 police community support officers allocated to the borough.
In addition to this I have launched a new transport policing unit which puts Metropolitan police officers on bus routes across London. This has been extremely successful, making more than 1,000 arrests since its introduction last June. I have invested in making transport safer in other ways too, rolling out CCTV across the bus network, making night bus services more frequent and reliable, and licensing mini-cab firms.
Transport is another major priority and I have allocated £3.78 million to Hounslow borough as a whole for 2003/4. One of the projects this money will be spent on is in Chiswick Town Centre.
The overall level of your council tax is a matter for your council. As far as my increase is concerned, for less than £1 extra a week this year Londoners are getting the fastest growing police force in Britain, the most rapidly improving bus service in the country, a fares cut for 16 and 17 year olds and a package of public transport improvements London has been waiting on for years. I would argue that this represents pretty good value for money.
Ken Livingstone - I live in Zone 3! My policies benefit the whole of London, inner and outer. As I have already set out, the number of police on the streets in boroughs across London Ė not just the central area Ė has increased since I became Mayor.
My huge programme of bus improvements has been a great boost for people who travel around outer London or commute from outer London to the central area. Congestion charging may only be enforced in the central zone, but the millions of pounds raised by the scheme will be spent on improving public transport right across the capital. I have frozen bus fares in outer London, effectively making it cheaper to travel by bus, and there are also more frequent and reliable bus services.
My support for major transport projects such as Crossrail is designed to bring new opportunities, investment and jobs to areas of outer London which have not previously benefited.
I have used my planning powers to ensure that local communities gain the maximum benefit from new developments in their area and to protect Londonís valuable green spaces and green belt land. I am Mayor for the whole of London and my policies reflect that.
In the first couple of years as Mayor I had the task of setting up an entire new organisation Ė a very time-consuming job which meant a lot of time stuck behind a desk. In the last year Iíve been able to get out and about much more Ė meeting people, hearing their views and seeing my policies in practice. Iíve visited West London, including the borough of Hounslow, several times since becoming Mayor and will be visiting again in the near future.
ChiswickW4.com - You are no doubt aware of the long-standing campaign to introduce noise reduction measures on local roads. Terry Coyne contacted us to say "I live in Wolseley Gardens, Chiswick, and our road backs onto the start of the A4/M4. Everyone in our street would like to see a barrier put up on the part of the elevated section of A4/M4 where it backs onto Wolseley Gardens"
Ken Livingstone - Busy roads are one of the main sources of environmental noise in London. The GLA London Household Survey 2002 showed that road traffic noise was a concern for more Londoners than any other source of noise. Excessive noise can have a serious impact on people's health and we have to take this form of pollution very seriously. That's why my London Ambient Noise Strategy sets out to tackle this problem in a number of ways. One of the proposals is to investigate the benefits of noise barriers. We are currently consulting on this and a range of other issues, such as noise-reducing road surfaces, building insulation and quieter driver methods. The Highways Agency has undertaken a noise survey in the Chiswick area.
ChiswickW4.com - Amit Patel is concerned about large-scale development in the area. "Mr Mayor, we know of your concerns to increase the level of social housing and for your admiration of tall buildings. Do people in the Chiswick area have to accept that more tower blocks are inevitable because it is the only way to ensure that enough affordable housing is built?"
Ken Livingstone - You are right to say that providing more affordable housing for London is a major concern for me. Many people in London canít afford to get on the housing ladder Ė even those with reasonably well-paid jobs can find that they canít afford to buy. Thatís why Iím setting a target of 50 per cent of affordable housing, including shared-ownership housing, which would benefit key workers like nurses and teachers.
Building at high density is vital if we are to provide enough homes for London and call a halt to the supply problem that has led to prices spiralling higher and higher. But that doesnít necessarily mean building tall. There are a whole range of low-rise, high density options. Georgian terraces in Islington and Kensington, for example, are some of the highest density housing in London.
We have certainly learnt the lessons of the 1960s when tower blocks were seen as the solution. High-rise flats may be desirable for single people and some couples, but are much less suitable for families who often prefer a home with a garden. There will be some taller buildings where appropriate, but I am only in favour of very tall buildings if the building is in an appropriate location and is itself acceptable in terms of local character. There is no blanket approach, each building is assessed on its own merits.
- The West London Transit Scheme is something that is concerning many
Chiswickians with the feeling growing that the "pinch point"
on Acton High Street will lead to the diversion of traffic towards Chiswick.
Keith Clarke has asked, "There is concern that the
Ďconsultationí was a botch and anger at your representative's arrogant
response to those who question the scheme. Could the funding not be put
to so much better use by improving the bus services along the route?"
We also shortly hope to have the results of a detailed and robust independent survey of what people think about the scheme. This will take into account views in Ealing and other areas affected.'
- Kathy Palmer has a question on graffiti "It defaces much of the
overground part of the underground system and the problem in Chiswick
seems to be getting worse all the time. Do you as Mayor have a view on
this problem and if so what can we the population of London (and Chiswick)
do to get rid of it FOR GOOD?"
Ken Livingstone - I've found the whole process very instructive about the concerns of your area and I will do my best to answer the questions that have not been answered in this interview. Can I suggest that for more general information about my work and the work of the GLA people should visit www.london.gov.uk
June 12 , 2003
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