The London Debate: Mayoral candidates go head-to-head to win your vote

  • Tap above to watch the full debate with Charlene White

Sadiq Khan denied any plans to introduce a new pay-per-mile charge as he came face-to-face with his three main rivals for London mayor during a live debate for ITV News London.

The Labour candidate for mayor said claims by Tory rival Susan Hall were simply "untrue", adding: "What I'm passionate about is continuing to improve public transport in London."

Mr Khan is bidding for a record third term at City Hall but will have to beat his nearest challengers of Susan Hall for the Conservatives, Rob Blackie for the Lib Dems and Zoë Garbett for the Green Party.

They appeared side-by-side during a special live debate hosted by Charlene White in Clerkenwell, central London.

Asked about his priorities for transport in London, Sadiq Khan highlighted his fares freeze during five of the last eight years, and the hopper fare, and pledged to make all buses zero emission.

Mr Khan's rivals for City Hall will be looking for any issues which could sway votes in the final weeks before voters go to the polls on 2 May.

Since the first mention of its expansion, ULEZ has been a divisive issue in the capital and Susan Hall repeated her pledge to reverse it on her first day, if elected.

Ms Hall also raised concern about the money she claims has already been spent by Sadiq Khan on pay-per-mile.

"Sadiq Khan has already spent £21m on pay-per-mile and he said he would never bring in the ULEZ expansion and he did," Susan Hall said.

"ULEZ was brought in on the pretence it would clean up air.

"Sadiq Khan knows his own impact assessment said that it would make virtually no difference to air quality whatsoever.

"But it has made a difference to those poor families that simply cannot afford to replace their cars and other families have had to take on massive loans to replace the cars," Ms Hall added.

Zoë Garbett for the Green Party said, despite the huge cost, she would bring in a single fare across all transport in London.

She claimed it would bring down fares for people living in outer London who had been forced to live further out because of the cost of property.

She added: "So it's all about creating a system that's a lot fairer. Yes, it will be expensive.

"I'd have to negotiate with the government for that money and we want to start looking at maybe the DLR first, but eventually getting a one fare like we do on the buses."

Rob Blackie laid the problems with London transport squarely at Sadiq Khan who he accused of taking £1bn out of Transport for London, meaning cuts to busses and the Tube.

"So the Tube has been breaking down more," the Lib Dem candidate said.

"We'll have stable finance and that will allow us to negotiate a long term funding settlement.

"We're going to have to pay our way for new Tube lines and train lines, central government may be able to underwrite that.

"We can also then, if we have a long term funding settlement, also get a long term settlement with the unions and have no strikes," he added.

Charlene White with the mayoral candidates in Clerkenwell Credit: ITV News

In an exclusive poll for ITV News London the issue of crime was the second biggest issue for Londoners in deciding who to vote for.

The Green Party is aiming for zero murders in ten years and believes recruiting more youth workers is the answer.

Zoë Garbett said: "Our young people need hope, they need investment, they've had a really difficult time with the pandemic.

"And I hear from young people, they just want things to do and the youth centres and the youth services are offering hope."

Figures showed that more teenage homicides were recorded in London in 2023 than in 2022 after a total of 21 teenagers were killed. 18 were stabbed and two were shot and one killed after his moped was hit by a car.

Lib Dem candidate Rob Blackie was violently mugged coming home from work one night but his attackers were never caught.

He wants to fight crime by cutting Sadiq Khan's fare freeze to fund better policing.

"I'm going to use that money to get more police back on the front line. We currently have 6,000 police in London who are stuck in the back office," he said.

"That's massively more than any other police force.

"Those are experienced people we can get there solving crimes. And I think that's critical because the proportion of rapists and sex offenders the police are catching has halved under the mayor," Mr Blackie added.

Sadiq Khan said he has managed to reduce the number of young people injured with a knife using youth clubs, after school clubs and schemes in the summer holidays.

Susan Hall said the underlying problem was a lack of structure in the Met and called for more local policing.

"They've moved away from borough based policing into great big units," Ms Hall said.

"We've got to go back to borough-based policing. We've got to. I will pledge to put two new police bases in every single borough," she added.

Voters will elect their new mayor on 2 May Credit: ITV News

Few issues have affected more Londoners recently than the cost of living with voters squeezed from every direction.

Our poll showed it was one of the most important issues ahead of polling day.

Free school meals have helped many families, but Susan Hall said they should be means tested because "millionaires' kids should not eat for free".

She added: "If it's targeted then you can give people more nutritious meals.

"I've been knocking on doors now for nearly a year and people are telling me the quality of these meals is not good!"

The Green Party wants to extend the idea of free school meals even further - beyond primary schools and into secondary education.

"This is about supporting our families, everyone's experience - primary schools are closing in their areas and families being priced out of our city," Zoë Garbett said.

"So it absolutely right to extend the universal free school meals to secondary school children," she explained.

There's no getting away from the sky high cost of housing in London which places huge pressure on household budgets.

Rob Blackie said soaring rents were the result of a huge rise in population over the last 15 years in London.

He added: "We haven't built the houses to keep up with that. Sadiq has missed his housing target almost every single year. We need to build a lot more housing to bring rents down."

Asked about his housing target Mr Khan said: "We've smashed every single government target set since 2016, the most completions in our city any since the 1930s, the most council homes - eight times the 1970s.

"We're building ten times the council homes than the previous mayor did.

"If you look across England, we're building more than double the amount of council homes in London compared to the rest of the country."

The May election will be held using the first-past-the-post system for the first time, meaning voters will no longer be able to vote for a second preference candidate.

The election for the Mayor of London is held on Thursday 2 May, when elections to the London Assembly and some local council elections will also be held.

Results are expected to be confirmed the weekend of Saturday 4th May.

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