Ken promises to freeze the congestion charge

KEN Livingstone yesterday launched his transport manifesto with a pledge to keep the congestion charge at £10 for the next four years.

The Labour mayoral candidate also confirmed that he would not reintroduce the charge’s controversial western extension zone, even though he thinks Boris Johnson was wrong to scrap it.

Promising a “better deal for motorists”, Livingstone used the launch to confirm that his plan for a £25 gas guzzler charge on large cars has been dropped on the basis that it would cost too much to implement. “I make no apology for the fact that the focus of my transport policy is to make it cheaper, easier and less polluting for Londoners to get around,” he said.

Livingstone also reiterated his popular pledge to introduce an immediate seven per cent cut to the cost of public transport and peg future fare increases to the rate of inflation.

But the Conservatives say that there is no money available for the fares cut and say it would remove funding required for crucial infrastructure projects.

“This election is his last chance to be mayor, and he will say anything to get re-elected. Ken Livingstone is making promises that he has already admitted he cannot keep,” the Johnson campaign said.

“The truth is Ken Livingstone’s numbers don’t add up and his policy means one thing – cuts of £1.14bn in transport funding, which would mean cutting investment in the tube upgrades, local bus services in the suburbs and safer transport teams.”

Livingstone’s other proposals include improved suburban bus services, a campaign to educate the public on public transport etiquette and the reintroduction of cheaper travelcards for passengers who do not want to enter zone one.

The news came on the same day election organisers confirmed the seven candidates who will be on the ballot: Conservative Boris Johnson, Labour’s Ken Livingstone, Lib Dem Brian Paddick, UKIP’s Lawrence Webb, Green Jenny Jones, the BNP’s Carlos Cortiglia and independent candidate Siobhan Benita.

KEN’S KEY PLEDGES

Deliver a seven per cent fares cut by October 2012 or resign as mayor.
Freeze the congestion charge at £10 for the next four years.
Cancel plans to introduce 600 new Routemaster buses.
Improve cycle safety at junctions and review the cost of Barclays cycle hire.
Lobby for new rail routes across London, dubbed Crossrail 2 & 3.