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Last Updated: Friday, 28 April 2006, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
London: Tough on crime
Zia Trench
Zia Trench
Politics Show London

Postal vote
Which issues will sway the London electorate

In a pre-local election special we examine issues likely to swing the vote in London.

Local elections might not seem that important. It is not as if councillors can make life-changing decisions like the government can, but they are important nevertheless.

Crime, education, housing, leisure facilities, street-cleaning, rubbish and how much council tax we pay, is all (to varying extents) in their control.

But it is not just about this; local elections are thought to say something about national politics.

If people are disenchanted with the government will they use local elections to vent their anger and frustration?

It is why the national media is so keen to cover them, so keen to draw out what the public is really saying - and not just about dog-mess in the nearby alley.

There are two crucial issues in London which political analysts predict will make a difference to how people vote; council tax and crime.

Both have solicited bountiful promises from local election candidates - and could anyone in London fail to notice that "tough on crime" has been Labour's obsession?

In this vein, it is no coincidence that the Metropolitan Police has just rolled out its scheme to get more bobbies on the beat and create safer neighbourhoods all over London.

Labour says it is working; Overall, crime is down in the Capital - but the crimes people fear most - violent crime, crime carried out by youths, are surging.

Labour highlight their RESPECT agenda as proof of their commitment to law and order, while the Conservatives want additional police and tougher enforcement of ASBO's.

The Liberal Democrats are pushing "Acceptable Behaviour Contracts" as the cornerstone of their law and order push.

But will bringing in ASBO's, Community Police Officers and Police Community Support Officers, persuade the public that locally, Labour is the party that will make them feel safe?

And now, let us turn to Council tax.

It varies wildly; from 649 in Wandsworth for an average, band D house to 1,449 in Kingston.

Since Labour came in nine years ago it has increased hugely.

It is a hot potato for Tories and Lib Dems keen to make much of the increase and their promises to do better.

The Tories claim they charge 81 less than Labour Councils for band D properties and 88 less Lid Dem Councils.

The Lib Dems want to scrap it altogether and replace it with a local income tax and Labour have been forced to delay their re-evaluation of the banding system until after the next general election.

All in all the vote on Thursday 4 May promises to be intriguing and just wait for all the parties positive spin on the results ... which, incidentally, is what we look at on Sunday 7 May at Noon on BBC One.

The Politics Show London

Join the Politics Show on BBC One on Sunday 07 May 2006 at 12.00pm with Tim Donovan.

What do you think?

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