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The BBC's Norman Smith
"He has no doubt what the number one priority is"
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Ken Livingstone
"The first duty of the mayor is to London"
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Monday, 3 July, 2000, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
Transport is biggest issue - Livingstone
Ken Livingstone
Livingstone: I'll only get one term if I don't sort out transport
London Mayor Ken Livingstone has said that transport is the biggest single issue facing the capital.

Mr Livingstone and the 25 members of the Greater London Assembly took up their full powers on Monday following their election in May.

During his inaugural speech, he said London needed a transport system on a par with Paris, Tokyo and New York if it were to compete internationally but had no illusion about how far away the city was from achieving that.

Mr Livingstone said London was suffering from years of chronic under-funding by central government and that now "the chicken of under-investment has come home to roost".

And he said that membership of the European single currency was a vital part of a package of measures necessary to maintain London as the world's most internationalised city.

If I get it (transport) wrong I will be a one-term mayor.

Ken Livingstone
He said that that if London were unable to take advantage of the trend towards globalisation and the use of new technology, the UK economy as a whole would be weakened.

"Creating a squalid London with a broken-down transport system, deep pools of poverty and inadequate policing will not aid the rest of the UK's regions, but weaken the attractiveness of the whole economy of the country," he said.

At a news conference following the speech, Mr Livingstone said that his discussions with leading international companies had convinced him that they were planning investment on the assumption that Britain would join the euro and would rethink their plans if this looked unlikely.

"London would be devastated if it became clear that over a decade we weren't going to join," he said.

"Congestion charging"

Mr Livingstone said that measures being looked at to help alleviate transport problems included freezing bus fares, a single bus fare for the whole of London, new river crossings and congestion charging.

He also maintained his opposition to government policy for a public-private partnership to fund improvements to the London Underground, calling on it to "respect the wishes of the people of London by abandoning partial privatisation and break-up of the Tube".

The GLA's powers
Economic development and regeneration
Fire and emergency planning

Transport was, he said "the real test of my mayoralty", adding: "If I get it wrong I will be a one-term mayor."

Turning to other areas, he said he would pursue a "zero tolerance" policy on street crime and violence.

And he sought to distance himself from extremist activists by denouncing "anarchist yobs" who took part in London's May Day riots as "a threat not only to law and order in the city, but its prosperity".

Mr Livingstone again repeated his wish to rejoin the Labour Party and said that he hoped he would be Labour's mayoral candidate in four year's time.

"This is a democracy, not a Kenocracy.

Trevor Phillips, GLA chairman
Mr Livingstone was expelled from the party after he ran as an independent candidate against former health secretary Frank Dobson.

GLA chairman Trevor Philips - deputy to Mr Dobson during the election campaign - warned Mr Livingstone not to use the mayoral office to pursue personal political goals.
Trevor Phillips, GLA chairman
Phillips: "We will kick your ass."

He said: "This is a democracy, not a Kenocracy.

"If you decide to use your position to advance politics that are not in the interests of Londoners or choose to use the platform for other political ends, we will, I promise, kick your ass."

The assembly consists of 25 elected members and 400 staff.

It will scrutinise the mayor's activities, question the mayor on his decisions and will also be able to investigate other issues of importance to Londoners, and make proposals to the mayor.

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