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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 September 2007, 04:21 GMT 05:21 UK
Tories square up for mayoral race
Andrew Boff, Victoria Borwick, Boris Johnson and Warwick Lightfoot (clockwise from top left)
The four Tory candidates took part in a hustings
Four contenders hoping to be the Tories' London mayoral candidate have been setting out how they plan to end Ken Livingstone's seven-year reign.

From dealing with violent crime and "incivility" on the buses to lowering council tax - each appeared confident they could beat Labour's mayor.

Boris Johnson, Victoria Borwick, Andrew Boff and Warwick Lightfoot took part in the first of four hustings this week.

The Tories say it is a bold step giving as many Londoners as possible a say.

The "open primary" is open to all Londoners - not just party members - to find their candidate to take on the incumbent mayor Mr Livingstone - who will contest his post for Labour and seek a third term.

Bendy buses

It followed a long search for a "big name" candidate to take on Mr Livingstone, a high-profile politician who has been in the job since it was created in 2000.

The four Tory candidates opened the hustings near Westminster with a five minute speech and went on to answer questions from the audience, while supporters floated "Victoria Borwick for mayor" balloons and "Back Boris" Oyster card holders and T-shirts.

Every pound spent must get a result
Warwick Lightfoot

Mr Johnson, the most high-profile candidate, said he wanted to be mayor "for a very good reason - I want to get rid of Ken Livingstone".

He focused on transport, pledging to get rid of the bendy buses - which he said "wipe out cyclists" - and redesign the iconic Routemaster bus to allow disabled access and tackling the "atmosphere of incivility that is created by yobs abusing the privilege of under-16 travel".

He also said the congestion charge was not working and said he wanted to make cycling safer and give better rail links for those in outer London.

'Fear on streets'

"I will work just as hard for people in zone six as for people in zone one," he said.

Businesswoman Mrs Borwick concentrated on dealing with violent crime - praising former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani for his success in that city and all Londoners had felt "fear on the streets".

She pledged "zero tolerance" on even the most minor crimes, to "break up the gangs" and to hold the police publicly accountable.

Tube strike

Economist Mr Lightfoot also pledged to tackle crime, but concentrated on improving public services and controlling the costs - accusing Mr Livingstone of spiralling budgets which impacts on council tax.

"Every pound spent must get a result," said Mr Lightfoot, who also wanted London to be more attractive - with more trees and green spaces.

Mr Boff, an IT consultant, pledged a harder line on dealing with the RMT - the union behind last week's Tube strike, and was keen to give Londoners a bigger say in the way they are governed through "voters' initiatives" - allowing people to force a referendum on issues of public concern.

He also said the congestion charge "needs ending" and pledged to be a "mayor of hope". All Conservative party members in London have been registered to vote in the primary, and non-members have until 20 September to register if they want to take part.

The Tories will announce the name of their candidate for the 2008 mayoral election before the end of this month.

Other confirmed candidates to stand against Mr Livingstone are Sian Berry for the Green Party and Big Issue founder John Bird.

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