Facing issues at the doorstep, but sharing joys on Edgware Road

Knocking on doors around London it is quiet clear what the issues are for Londoners: crime, transport and housing – but not necessarily in that order. Added to this, particularly in West London, is the expansion of Heathrow Airport proposals which has been attracting huge public meetings in a lot of town halls. Amidst all these meetings and door knocking, I managed to see the African Nations Cup final with an excited Egyptian audience!

It is clear that the fear of crime is the issue when discussing it with folk on their doorsteps, and while it can be shown clearly that crime rates are going down, it is fear of it which is driving most people, particularly when we have young people hanging around. So in this respect the Youth Offer made by Mayor Ken Livingstone appears to going down well.

Public transport can clearly be better but its also clear people have noticed the difference public investment is making on our buses, tube and rail service. And finally the issue which has been too often been ignored but the Mayor intends to make a huge impact on during a third term – the availability of affordable housing. Too often I hear on the doorstep stories of overcrowding and the inability of young adults to leave home and set up another home nearby. So not surprisingly the investment programme of 50,000 homes over next 4 years goes down well.

And then we have the proposed expansion of Heathrow. This is clearly causing alarm and the business and environmental arguments of the Government aren’t getting through to residents who feel they will suffer a reduction in their quality of life. Let’s hope the Environment Committee report from the London Assembly can contribute to the debate when it is launched next week.

And finally it’s not all door knocking and meetings! I managed to switch off while watching the African Nations Cup final in the Nile Cafe in the company of Egyptians while smoking a shisha. The Egyptians were clearly the better team against the Cameroon and it was a deserved win for them. So I went to bed with the Edgware Road in my neighbourhood celebrating well into the night. Let’s just hope the six times winners of the Cup fare much better in the World Cup in South Africa in 2010.

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