ConservativeHome: London Mayoral candidates Q&A with Philippa Roe.
1) Why do you want to be Mayor of London
I am a Londoner through and though. I was born in Hampstead, brought up in Bromley and have lived in various places across the city - Wandsworth, Fulham and Westminster.
I have raised a family in London and know every part of the city. I will bat for every individual community that makes up this great city.
I believe I have the experience to be Mayor of the best city in the world.
I have been Leader of Westminster City Council for the past three years, managing a budget of £1 billion a year and running one of the most complex areas of London.
Having set up and run and sold two small businesses, becoming the chief executive of another and rising through the ranks to become a director at a leading global investment bank, I understand London, not just as a resident but also from a business perspective.
I am a Conservative who is a fundamental believer in the importance of aspiration. If you work hard, build a career and provide for your family the Conservative Party will support you with policies that allow you to reach your full potential.
Being Mayor of London is not just something I would be honoured to do, it is a role I believe I am qualified to do to build a better London.
2) How would you increase housing supply in London? What sort of housing needs to be built?
The priority must be to build affordable housing for people on lower and middle incomes, many of whom work in central London but currently face very long and very expensive commutes.
In Westminster we have developed a number of housing offers for those on lower and middle incomes, including a home ownership option open exclusively to those earning under £60,000 a year.
This keeps the price of the property affordable for its life and is not a hand out to the first lucky person on the ladder. These have proved extremely successful. The first development sold all properties to residents earning less than £30,000 per year.
There are areas in London where the building of high-rise properties will alleviate the housing issue, creating tens of thousands more homes. Although the height of these buildings must be carefully considered, taking into consideration the nature of the area so that historic value in our city is preserved, there are undoubtedly many areas where such buildings could be sensitively sited.
The Land Commission in London is already identifying underused public sector land in London that could create thousands of homes. I would ensure that a balance is reached between maximising development and taking into consideration the local environment and providing the social infrastructure alongside new homes such as doctors surgeries and schools.
London also has a number of privately owned brown field sites which are currently not viable due to a lack of infrastructure. It is essential that this infrastructure is developed and the sites opened up, bringing not only much needed housing but economic regeneration as well.
3) Would you favour a third runway at Heathrow?
No, I support expansion at Gatwick. Not only are the noise and air pollution issues significant with Heathrow expansion and large numbers of residents disrupted, I do not believe it can be delivered as quickly as the Gatwick solution. London needs increased airport capacity as soon as possible. The Heathrow option is highly likely to be challenged from a number of different stakeholders, which will delay implementation for many years. I do not believe that the Davis Commission took this into account in its economic analysis. I believe that Gatwick could deliver the additional airport capacity we need far sooner.
4) How would you achieve a further reduction in crime in London?
Horrible though it is for victims when a crime is committed, fortunately most Londoners will never experience a serious crime.
However many Londoners will experience antisocial behaviour which does not seem to be a priority for the police. Anti-social behaviour must be tackled early on as blights the lives of residents and can lead to more serious crime.
As Mayor, I would make antisocial behaviour, aggressive begging and low-level crime such as pickpocketing a police priority and set targets to tackle it.
The MOPAC 7 targets have been useful in reducing certain types of crime but police prioritisation must be broadened.
The police should work more closely in partnership with London councils. In Westminster, for example, we have two police officers embedded in our licensing team so that they work closely with us as issues arise. This has proved very effective in dealing with difficult premises particularly in the West End and could be extended to other areas.
5) Would you increase or reduce the Council Tax precept if you became Mayor?
I would reduce the precept.
Boris has done a good job at beginning the reduction in costs within the GLA but we must go further.
Having run a local authority during some of the most severe budget cuts local government has ever seen and taken 40% out of our net budget, I believe that I am well placed to find further savings at City Hall.
I will take a no nonsense approach and review all services provided by City Hall and assess if they are really necessary. This will also highlight areas where budgets can be reduced without any adverse effect on the service quality.
It is vital that an analysis of the way services are delivered is undertaken. All services then need to be looked at from the point of delivery backwards to ensure that the highest quality is provided as efficiently as possible.
By taking this approach in Westminster we have saved over £100m and in many cases improved services at the same time.
To read the full 12 question interview click here.