Zac Goldsmith has been Richmond and North Kingston's MP since 2010 and is one of the two frontrunners to become the next Mayor of London. William Gadsby Peet got in touch with Zac to talk about his plans for London if he becomes Mayor.
Do you plan to step down as MP for Richmond if you are elected Mayor?
It is an honour and privilege to represent the community where I grew up, but if I’m lucky enough to be elected Mayor of London I will step down. You can’t do both jobs for a significant period of time, it’s just not possible.
What are your thoughts on 20mph speed limits, are they making our roads safer?
An increasing number of central and inner London boroughs have recently introduced, or plan to introduce, borough wide 20mph speed limits across their road networks to improve road safety. I will support 20mph speed limits on borough roads when boroughs choose to implement them and there is local community support.
Do you have any plans to implement more cycle highways around London?
Under Boris, cycling has doubled, and I want it to double again. The question is not if we accommodate cycling and make it safer, but how. I expect the Cycle Superhighways to do a great job, but policy needs to be based on evidence, and we need to judge them objectively. We need more cycling provision, but it must be a cycling programme that works for everyone.
How are you going to ensure that fewer cyclists are killed/injured on London’s roads?
Every death on London’s roads is an unnecessary tragedy. It should be acknowledged that cycling is overall getting much safer, with the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured down in 2014 compared to the previous year, despite huge increases in the number of people cycling.
I will continue investment in making cycling easier and safer. I will make it safer by getting lorries off the roads, with more consolidation centres and more freight journeys by river and rail, and with tough new safety rules for HGVs. I will upgrade and improve the 33 dangerous junctions identified by TFL, and ask TFL to identify further junctions to upgrade. I will provide more cycle Superhubs at our stations and I will build more segregated lanes on London’s roads.
What are your thoughts on immigration into London – a city that many seem to think is bursting at the seams?
London benefits from immigration. Its diversity is one of the things that makes London a great city. London’s businesses, big and small, need to be able to attract the brightest and the best from overseas, and if elected Mayor I will ensure that Government recognises that need. But of course there’s a balance to be struck.
You’ve successfully secured several million pounds worth of funding for Kew Gardens, how important are cultural projects like Kew Gardens for London?
I stood up for Kew Gardens because it is a national treasure. Kew Gardens is one of England’s top tourist attractions, welcoming over two million visitors each year. It hosts over 30,000 plant types and is home to an internationally acclaimed botanical research facility. It is part of what makes London the city it is today.
You have been hugely opposed to the expansion of Heathrow to include a 3rd runway, will you remain steadfast in your opposition if you become mayor?
Unlike my Labour opponent, who adjusted his previous strong support for Heathrow expansion for the sake of this election, my position on Heathrow has never and will never waver. I have stood up for Londoners over Heathrow and as a result of my campaigning Heathrow expansion has been subjected to a pollution test which it cannot pass. If the threat rears its head again, I will always do whatever is required to fight it off.
Will you be working with rail/bus/tram providers to keep down travel costs and increase the regularity of service?
I’m absolutely committed to improving the capacity and reliability of London’s transport system and through my Action Plan for Greater London I’ll deliver exactly that.
As Mayor I aim to secure the necessary funding to see through improvements to the District Line which will increase capacity by a quarter.
I’ll petition the Government to bring suburban rail services under the Mayor’s control – a huge opportunity to increase and improve the service to all parts of outer London.
This is work that is essential – unless we back investment in our transport system homes will not be built, jobs will be lost and our City will grind to a halt. That’s why the experimental policies of my Labour rival Sadiq Khan, who wants to take £1.9 billion out of the TfL budget, would be so damaging.
How do you think Crossrail will affect London?
Crossrail is going to be a massive boost for London with an estimated benefit to the UK economy of at least £42 billion. It will encourage regeneration, unlock the housing we need for Londoners as well as providing a much needed jobs boost to the UK construction industry. A journey from Liverpool Street to Canary Wharf which currently takes 21 minutes will only take 6 minutes once Crossrail comes in. That’s great news.
However it’s clear that we also need Crossrail 2. The city’s population is growing rapidly and is estimated to hit 10 million by 2030. In order to prevent terrible congestion on London’s transport network, Crossrail 2 must be delivered.
What are your views on Trident?
We would all like to live in a nuclear-free world but we have to do the things that will keep our country safe. It is absolutely essential when other countries around the world are armed that we maintain our independent nuclear deterrent.
Are you concerned the split in your party over Britain’s membership of the EU will affect your chances of getting elected mayor? What are your views on Britain in the EU, should we stay or should we go?
My vote on Europe counts for no more than the 48 million other people who can vote in this referendum. That’s the beauty of referendums, they remove power from politicians. If I am elected Mayor of London on 5 May, my role won’t be to take Britain out of the EU or to keep us in – that’s a decision for the British people alone.
My job, if I am elected, will be to bring London together and make sure it flourishes no matter what. So between now and May 5th, I will be working round the clock to earn the trust of every Londoner so I can deliver my Action Plan for Greater London: more homes, better transport, safer streets and a cleaner environment.
What do you think of the man you’re trying to replace, has he done a good job?
Under Boris, we’ve bounced back from financial crisis to become the greatest city in the world. Just look at his economic legacy. Over the last mayoral term, 450,000 jobs have been created in London – more than double the original target and over 154,000 new businesses were created in London. There are currently 975,835 private sector businesses in London. Boris has also delivered record investment in our transport. He has been a great Mayor and will leave a lasting legacy. I’m standing to protect that success and make it work for Londoners across the board.
Why do you think you would be a better mayor than any of the other candidates?
Because I’ll stand by my principles and work with the Government to deliver for London.
As Mayor, I’ll start to fix our housing crisis, doubling house-building to 50,000 a year by the end of my term. I’ll build a transport network that’s fit for the needs of 21st century London. I’ll make London the cleanest and greenest city in the world – protecting our green spaces, cleaning up our air, and more. And because nothing is more important than the safety of our citizens, I’ll make sure our police have the tools they need to protect our streets.
As a city we get to keep just 7 percent of the taxes we raise, so the next Mayor has to be able to work with the Government to secure the funds and powers to deliver for London. I am the only candidate who fits that bill. The alternative is a Mayor who will use the office to play partisan politics and treat the city as a testing ground for the radical policies of a Corbyn-Khan experiment.
If you want to learn more about Zac's campaign or donate to it you can view his website here.
If you'd like to hear Sadiq Khan's side of the debate, you can read our interview with him here.