Siobhan Benita - A London Mayor for local people
By aloquifique | Friday, April 27, 2012, 11:24
Much of the broadsheet attention around Siobhan Benita in the past few days has focussed on the broadcast media not allowing her vital airtime during crucial Mayoral TV debates. When she was thrown an olive branch to appear on the Sunday Politics Show, she get's just two minutes. Hardly enough time to hook Londoners and persuade them to vote for her. Thus, she's working twice as hard to be seen and heard. "The Broadcast rules fundamentally need to change, otherwise you're always going to get the main parties dominating these type of elections and, in the mayoral election you're not voting for a party, you're voting for a person."
Siobhan Benita. Your Independent London Mayoral Candidate 2012
And that's her point. Siobhan, as a self funded Independent, won't need to answer to anybody, other than the electorate. She's free from party politics and the noose of toeing hackneyed party lines. "I can't imagine anyone epitomising old labour more than Ken Livingstone and anyone more Tory than Boris. They're each funded millions of pounds by their parties. As an independent Mayor, I don't care which part is in power".
What Siobhan does care about are her ideas for London. An eclectic range of radical policies, set out in her manifesto, which include; the possible demolition of Battersea Power Station to make way for new fixed price housing; Support of a third runway at Heathrow Airport; The instigation of a Youth Assembly and Youth Mayor at County Hall; Allowing the tube to run later on weekends and jobseekers to travel free of charge. Her passion though, is to make the Mayor of London's role more linked with the Boroughs.
"One of the policies I've got which I think will genuinely make a difference to people's lives is the idea of how can the Mayor get local? When I talk to young mothers and elderly residents in London, their issues are local. They don't care if there's a cable car going up in the Thames in the centre of London. What they care about is their local life. The other candidates go, well that's a local authority issue – but if it's what Londoners care about…"
Her big idea is that every Borough identifies their top 5 residents concerns and Siobhan, as Mayor, will hold the Borough accountable, year on year, to resolve those issues. In her own Borough of Merton people tell her there's a problem with litter and dog mess and foxes. So what would she do about the foxes?
"We would collect data, have a proper audit of fox numbers and fox incidents and if it turns out that their numbers have been stable all the while, then I won't do anything but if it's a problem, I'll consider all options. I would consider a cull – if that's what it needs. I'm not scared to make those decisions, if that's what people are saying is a problem."
There's less than a week to go now until Poling Day on 3rd May. Expect to hear more and more from Siobhan as voters attention switches to the task at hand. She's not letting old institutions like Boris, Ken and even the BBC stand in her way.