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On May 3, Londoners go to the polls to vote for the capital's next mayor of London. Here we interview the front runners - quizzing them about the budget, rent, London Olympics as well as they're favourite pubs.

It’s been a close, and sometimes dirty, fight between Conservative candidate Boris Johnson and Labour’s Ken Livingstone, with polls putting them only points apart. With just days to go before you cast your vote, we put the burning questions to both of the frontrunners. Read on – their answers may even change your mind.

For details of how to vote, see londonelects.org.uk
 

Why should ex-pats in London vote for you?

BORIS:
If you live or work in London, then you are already invested in its future and this election represents your chance to help cut crime, continue investing in transport, grow London’s economy and create new jobs, make the Olympics a success and keep council tax low.

My 9 point plan sets out a clear strategy for moving London forward. By cutting waste at City Hall to free up £3.5 billion for services, we now can create more than 200,000 new jobs and help create 1,000 apprenticeships a week over the next four years, put 1,000 more police on the beat and 2,000 officers on Safer Neighbourhood Teams to make our streets and homes safer. And I am the best placed candidate in this election to secure a better deal for London from No 10, benefiting residents across all of London’s 32 boroughs.

KEN:
London needs to be a place that welcomes people from all quarters of the world. I'll make sure that's protected. But London is an expensive place to live and work so my priority is to ease that pressure.  I'll cut their fares, save money on their energy bills, restore police numbers and create the first not for profit London-wide lettings agency to help with the cost of renting. 

Boris Johson on a London bus

What will be your first duty on your first day back in office if you win the election?

BORIS:
I will get straight to work on creating jobs for Londoners by cutting waste and putting money where it has the biggest impact.

KEN:
To appoint my Deputy Val Shawcross as chair of Transport for London and we will then work together to cut the fares.  

How are you going to improve the Tube network?

BORIS:
In order for London to meet future demands and remain the global business capital and a magnet for talent and foreign investment, we have to invest in transport and that is why we have been engaging in neo-Victorian levels of investment – £22.1 billion secured from Government – to improve London’s transport network.

KEN:
We've got to drive ahead with investment programme - but over the last four years the current mayor has under-spent the investment budget by £1.1billion.

How can we prevent Tube workers striking?

BORIS:
Londoners should no longer be held to ransom by union barons. That is why I am committed to investing in driverless trains, introducing automation on the Tube like the DLR. I also want to prevent irresponsible union leaders from calling strikes with a minority of supporters.

KEN:
I think it would be a good idea to start meeting them, which the current mayor has failed to do.  I'll meet them and tell them what we can and can't afford. 

How do you get to work?

BORIS:
I try to cycle into work as often as possible.

KEN:
Bus and Tube. 

How are you going to make sure our readers have more money in their pockets for travelling/drinking at the end of the month?

BORIS:
By cutting waste at City Hall to free up £3.5 billion for services we have been able to cut City Hall’s share of council tax, putting an average £445 back into Londoners’ pockets, and if re-elected I will cut council tax by at least 10 per cent over the next four years.

KEN:
I'll cut their fares by 7%, saving the average Londoner £1000 over the next four years. My plans to create a London-wide lettings agency will help stop TNT readers being ripped off by dodgy landlords and extortionate agency fees, and my plans for an energy cooperative will save them £120 a year. To find out exactly how much money they'll save with me, they should go to www.betteroffcalculator.com  

Boris Johnson outside a pub in London

After last year's riots, what are you doing to tackle youth violence?

BORIS:
Last year’s riots show the full scale of the challenges we still face. In particular, urgent attention needs to be given to our youth justice system. That is why I am committed to more targeted programmes aimed at helping London’s vulnerable young people steer away from a life of crime.

This includes launching 25 Leadership Clubs in secondary schools to tackle the underlying causes of last year’s riots and recruiting 1,000 volunteers to help up to 10,000 young adults through uniformed groups.

KEN:
Young people must have the chance of job, and not feel excluded from society. We need proper apprentice schemes so that there are more routes into work for young people rather than just going to university. 

We also need to seriously confronting gangs in the capital, which is why I launched and will continue to support the 1,000 officer-strong Trident Gangs Command, prioritising the 62 most violent groups of young men who are responsible for two-thirds of gang-related crime.

Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson go head-to-head

What will you do to make London more eco-aware?

BORIS:

I want to continue making London a cleaner, greener city to live and work in and part of my 9 point plan includes restoring 300 acres of green space and planting 20,000 street trees.

I have also asked Transport for London to plan for a westward expansion of the world’s most successful Cycle Hire Scheme, which has helped initiate a cycling revolution in the capital. Additionally, energy efficiency and improving carbon emissions has been central to my new Housing Design Guide and the London Plan.

KEN:
By getting more of London's fair share of the money available for insulating homes we will reduce heating bills but also help cut London's carbon emissions. 

Tackling climate change not only improves our environment and air quality but also has significant economic benefits. That is why I want to continue reducing carbon emissions, saving on energy bills, and creating green jobs by retrofitting a further 20,000 homes through RE:NEW, which helps people adopt simple energy efficiency measures.

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London mayoral election 2012: Interview with Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone
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