Londoners get the chance to vote for their next mayor today (10 June). Last week Ken Livingstone launched his manifesto on the day Caterer went to press. Since then his team has completed the questionnaire we put to two of the other main candidates last week (Caterer, 3 June, page 12).
The congestion zone is hurting hospitality businesses in Westminster. What are your plans for the scheme?
Livingstone denies that the scheme is creating any hardship for hospitality businesses. However, if elected he plans to make the scheme easier to use, with direct debit and block prepayments. He would also suspend the charge between Christmas and New Year and if the zone is extended westward it would finish earlier at 6pm.
Should smoking in bars and restaurants in London be banned?
Livingstone says it's up to Londoners to decide, although a recent poll shows that more Londoners are in favour of restrictions in restaurants than in bars and pubs.
London's businesses thrive on tourists. How would you plan to make London a safe and attractive place to visit and do business in?
Livingstone has allocated £45m from the London Development Agency (LDA) over a four-year period to market London as a tourist destination. He reckons VisitLondon.com has become the second most visited UK destination website, and adds that polls show the fear of crime is falling, thanks to an increase in police officers. Plans include launching a London TV visitor and tourist channel on Sky.
Tourists and staff need to travel across London. What's the most important element of your transport policy?
Livingstone claims he has transformed bus services in London, with 1,000 more buses and high levels of customer satisfaction. His next step would be to extend the improvements made to bus services to the London Underground and rail services, including later tube services on Friday and Saturday nights.
London needs lots of hotel rooms to make its bid for the 2012 Olympics viable. How would you help that to happen and support the bid?
Livingstone says the LDA sees tourism promotion as one of its top priorities. It's working with the private sector across London to improve the quantity and quality of hotel accommodation. The Olympic Games would be a unique opportunity to further spread this throughout London.