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The BBC's Laura Trevelyan
Firefighters "will be doing everything they can"
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Monday, 27 March, 2000, 18:11 GMT 19:11 UK
Livingstone 'not much help'
Prime site: The assembly could be next to Tower Bridge
Prime site: The assembly will be next to Tower Bridge
Labour candidate for London mayor Frank Dobson has rounded on his rival Ken Livingstone's record on policing in the capital.

London Mayor
In an interview at the weekend, the independent mayoral candidate defended his comments that if elected mayor he would not welcome the World Trade Organisation to London.

Mr Livingstone was also challenged on his view that the IRA hunger strikers of the early 1980s were "freedom fighters".

But speaking on Monday, Mr Dobson said that Mr Livingstone's comments were "not much help" in the promotion of the capital on the international stage.

Frank Dobson: Attacking Livingstone
"Whether its loutish behaviour [of anti-WTO protesters] or terrorism, Ken's record is poor."

Mr Livingstone only referred to the police when he was criticising them and had yet to come up with a proper criminal justice strategy, said the former health secretary.

Turning to Mr Livingstone's threat to take the government to court if it attempts a partial sell-off of the London Underground, Mr Dobson said that only lawyers would welcome such a move.

"The government is acting perfectly lawfully," he told BBC News Online. "The best thing to do is to find out which programme is the best bargain for Londoners."

Union support for Livingstone

It emerged on Monday that the London branch of the Fire Brigades Union would be openly campaigning in support of Mr Livingstone, including raising money outside fire stations.

The FBU is affiliated to the Labour Party although officials have tried to play the support for Mr Livingstone down.

A spokesman said the London branch had a reputation for being on the hard left and no one was surprised at the move, although individual party members supporting Mr Livingstone could face disciplinary action.

Homes fears

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat candidate Susan Kramer has met families who say that their homes could be sold off by the local council to make way for the proposed Greater London Assembly building.

Ms Kramer, joined by Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy and local MP Simon Hughes, said that land near the planned glass-fronted structure is prime real estate and could be sold off by Southwark Council.

But Michelle Pearce, chair of housing at Southwark council, denied the borough would force residents out of the neighbourhood.

She said existing properties may be demolished but they would be replaced by buildings to "a higher quality, higher density specification".

She said: "All tenants who currently live in the three affected blocks would be able to return to live on the same site.

"They would benefit from a better standard of accommodation with modern facilities, new lifts and an attractive outlook to the river and a new central courtyard.

Susan Kramer
Susan Kramer: Meeting residents
"By building more flats on the same amount of land, the council would be able both to rehouse existing tenants and include additional private sector properties for sale.

"This would raise much needed capital that would be invested back into maintaining and improving council housing in Southwark."

Dobson quits

In a separate development, independent candidate Frank S Dobson election, who was standing as a protest against the establishment of the office, has decided not to contend the 4 May poll.

The 65-year-old retired publisher from New Malden, Surrey, who threatened to bring chaos to the vote, said that he was standing down because of the financial and administrative obstacles in his way.

He said that he would now be spoiling his ballot paper in the May 4 poll, and called on anyone who had been intending to vote for him to do the same.

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