Jenny Jones interview

Jenny Jones is the Green Party candidate for Mayor of London

Jenny Jones, Green party candidate for Mayor of London, discusses her policies, public recognition and the important of maximising votes in the London Assembly elections.

How has the campaign been for you so far, are you finding people are interested in hearing your message?
When I was in Barnet this week I had a high degree of recognition. I think more and more people are recognising me and as far as I’m concerned that’s good for the party because it means people are getting an opportunity to hear our policies.

All the polls suggest that Ken or Boris will be the most likely victor, for you as a smaller party is the Mayoral race really about maximising your vote for the London Assembly?
We obviously want to get more Assembly Members because it’s the way for us to hold the Mayor to account.

At the same time the Mayoral race is important for us because a good Mayoral vote does indicate a degree of support for all of the policies and it does mean that perhaps the next Mayor will listen to us a little bit more.

What would an increased number of Green Assembly Members mean for the way the Assembly works?
I think it has been a bit unhealthy having such a large group as the Tories had in the last session, and of course ten men and one woman really did unbalance things. And it makes the Assembly less co-operative and less easy to work in when you have such a big voting bloc.

So a more balanced number of Assembly Members between the parties I think would be good for co-operative working. Most of the reports we publish in the committees have cross-party support so it can be done when you’re working as individuals.

On your road charging pledge, if I understand this correctly you would fund fare cuts by increasing the congestion charge as a temporary measure for a year and then replace it with a pay-as-you-go scheme?
That’s absolutely right except it would be over three years. We’d leave the raised congestion charge for three years and then bring in the road charging in the fourth year.

And that would replace the congestion charge entirely?
Yes, replace it completely. And the delay would allow lots of time for discussion because we want it to be fair and we want it to be perceived as fair.

We’re not saying the scheme is negotiable but we would have to talk to business people, to disabled groups and those people who absolutely have to use their cars.

We have to show London this is an acceptable way of running our transport system because we have to reduce congestion which is bad for everyone, including business, and we have to reduce air pollution.

These things can only really be done by reducing the number of vehicles on our roads.

One of the policies you announced earlier this week was a block on supermarkets building exclusive car parks which give them an advantage over other retailers. Is the idea that you would force them to open up car parks to all drivers regardless of where they shopped?
It would be a case of seeing what was appropriate in each case, I would do everything in my power to discourage ground-level car parking because I think it’s a waste of space.

Although we have a lot of cars on our roads, car ownership in London is not particularly high. If we start to really increase car clubs and improve our transport system then really we’re offering people a way out of using cars.

You’re going to scrap the New Bus for London?
We’d use the ones we’ve got, they’re going to be a real curiosity and I look forward to maybe driving one myself.

Basically they are far too expensive and we have no way to bring down the unit price for each bus. For these eight buses we could have had 93 nearly as clean buses on our roads already.

You don’t accept Boris’s position that if you order more buses the cost will lower?
Yes of course that would eventually happen, but if he hadn’t scrapped the plan to make all of London’s fleet hybrid by 2016 the unit price of hybrids would be much lower now and actually we’d have more than 93 on our roads so he actually damaged the whole concept of cleaner vehicles on our roads. by going for this particular vanity bus.

On LBC radio this week you said Bob Crow was a ‘very nice’ man, could we expect to see adopting a slightly less approach to unions if you were elected?
Yes, he’s always been very nice to me, very softly spoken and polite. I’m a very co-operative person and I like working with people and I like getting things done so I hope very much that I could work with the unions.

Ken has suggested he’d like control of the hospitals, Boris has said he’d like more of a role in education and to keep more of the money London pays in taxes. If you could get one thing from the coalition what would it be?
I think I would want more concessions from the Government in terms of funding to make London more sustainable. I would want more money to fund things like insulation and things which can help Londoners directly.

It’s an interesting concept to constantly increase power, but if you do that you have to make the Assembly stronger.