Boris Johnson launches Conservative's local election campaign (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Boris Johnson launches Redbridge Conservative's local election campaign in Gants Hill
The Mayor of London has launched the Conservative's election campaign.
Speaking in Gants Hill yesterday, Boris Johnson said he was confident of a Conservative victory in Redbridge on May 22.
In a speech in Barkingside last week, Labour leader Ed Miliband pledged to make the rental market fairer for tenants by abolishing agents' fees if he wins the general election next year.
He also criticised the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition for failing to takle a "cost of living crisis".
But Boris Johnson hit back, saying he was confident his party would take full control of the authority despite Labour predictions of victory.
He said:“I am a bit sceptical about fixing markets and putting limits on rentals because, as with other cities in Europe and in London in the 70s, it drives people out of the rental sector.
“The council has done fantastic work in Redbridge. A Conservative council is what we need and we are confident of victory here.
"There is a housing problem in London and we need to invest massively in housing.
“Crime is down 17.5% in the borough and the council has done a great job."
Mr Johnson set out Redbridge Conservative's seven point plan for the future of the borough, including continuing to fund extra police officers to patrol the streets, 30-minute free parking in all street bays, a new permanent swimming pool, weekly street sweeping, freezing council tax, expanding grammar schools and £8 million investment in town centres.
Conservative councillor Paul Canal was full of praise for the London Mayor, who he believes will be key to winning votes in the borough.
But he was careful not to elevate his influence beyond the Prime Minister David Cameron, who many believe he will eventually replace as Tory leader.
Cllr Canal said: “Boris is a London icon. He has the greatest recognition in council, except for David Cameron.
"He is the most popular politician in western Europe and manages to extract support across all ethnic groups.
“Redbridge is one of the most diverse boroughs in London, and Boris can reach out to every community, and he has a mixed heritage himself.”
But deputy Labour leader Wes Streeting accused the Conservatives of adopting his party's ideas.
He said: “Most of the ideas here are from Labour, free parking and street cleaning to name two, so it really seems that after 12 years in administration the Conservatives have no ideas and no visions of their own.
“Four years ago the Conservatives promised to provide a permanent swimming pool for Redbridge and they haven’t come good on that promise, it is laughable it is one of their plans again. Who is to say they will follow through with the promise this time?”
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