London mayor Boris Johnson today promised to create more than 200,000 jobs in the capital over the next four years if he is re-elected on May 3.
The promise came as a BBC poll, on the first day of the official mayoral campaign, found that jobs and the economy are the most important issues for Londoners.
Some 59% of those questioned said that growth and job creation would be important issues when they decided how to vote, ahead of crime (49%), public transport (38%) and housing (37%).
Mr Johnson, who is seeking a second term at City Hall, said that the Government's agreement to hand him powers to invest £3 billion in housing would allow him to create 104,000 jobs, while 32,300 would result from investment in transport, 5,500 in redevelopment of the Greenwich Peninsula and Royal Docks and a further 59,500 through a variety of initiatives he is planning.
But his Labour rival Ken Livingstone - mayor from 2000-08 - said that today's poll showed public support for his proposal to cut public transport fares by 7%. Some 82% of voters taking part in the Ipsos Mori survey said they backed the plan.
However, when asked who had the best policies on transport, they gave Mr Johnson a five-point lead on 36% compared with Livingstone's 31%.
The two front-runners were neck and neck on the key issue of who would be able to boost growth and employment, with 27% each, while Liberal Democrat candidate Brian Paddick and Green Jenny Jones trailed on 1%.
When pitted against one another, Mr Johnson was better-liked than Mr Livingstone by a margin of 43%-35% and was viewed as the best ambassador for London (by 47%-32%), able to get the best deal for the capital from Government (49%-31%) and best able to spend public money wisely (38%-36%).
Mr Livingstone led as the candidate who most understands ordinary Londoners by a wide margin of 47%-32%, best in a crisis (by 43%-32%) and having the best grasp of detail (44%-28%).
Mr Johnson said: "Through working hard to cut waste in the Greater London Authority, freeing up £3.5 billion for services and securing a better deal for London from Number 10, we will directly create 200,000 jobs for Londoners. We will deliver this by investing. Investing in transport infrastructure, local high streets, house building and a true Olympic legacy.
"But these are only happening because I made the right arguments and took the difficult decisions. Cutting investment now, including pulling £1 billion out of London's transport budget would be devastating for London's economy and Londoners' job prospects."
Responding to today's BBC survey, Mr Livingstone said: "After years of rising train, bus and tube fares under the Tory Mayor this poll shows Londoners want a Mayor who will cut the fares and make them better off.
"It's remarkable that with 82% of Londoners saying they want a fares cut, Boris Johnson wants to continue his policy of above-inflation fare increases.
"If I'm elected on May 3 I will cut the fares, saving Londoners £1,000 on average over four years."
Mr Paddick accused his two main rivals of ducking debate by failing to attend a Disability Question Time event today.
"Both the current and the former Mayor have failed to provide sufficient access to the city's transport system for disabled people," said Mr Paddick. "Half of all bus stops in London do not comply with accessibility legislation, just 10 out of 270 Tube stations are step-free from the street to the train and 347 of Transport for London's pedestrian crossings are unsafe for blind people because they lack any audible guidance.
"Disabled Londoners just want the same opportunities that other Londoners take for granted. It's shocking that Johnson and Livingstone do not appear concerned or even willing to listen."
:: Ipsos Mori questioned 1,001 Londoners for the BBC between March 10 and 13.
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