Ken Livingstone visits Lyric Square in Hammersmith
KEN Livingstone pulled no punches on a visit to Hammersmith and Fulham by blasting the council as 'unpleasant' and claiming its Earls Court regeneration scheme is illegal.
The Mayoral hopeful travelled in his Fare Deal Express bus to Lyric Square, in Hammersmith, on Thursday.
It was part of his transport manifesto launch which includes cutting fares, protecting the Freedom Pass, freezing the congestion charge and encouraging more cycling across the capital.
But the 66-year-old wasted no time in tearing into the council over its backing of the Earls Court project which will see the Gibbs Green and West Kensington Estates bulldozed and residents rehoused.
Current mayor Boris Johnson caused anger last week by rubber-stamping an 800-home development in Seagrave Road - the first stage of the plans which will see 7,000 new homes and four 'urban quarters' built.
But Mr Livingstone left voters in no doubt as to where he stood on the issue when he spoke to the Chronicle.
"This council has a catastrophic housing policy and is the most unpleasant Conservative administration in Britain," he said. "They are tearing down social housing to change the political complexion of the borough. That should be a crime.
"We have got to stop them demolishing good social housing and start building more. My policy could not be clearer. It is always wrong to demolish housing so that there are more Tory voters in the area.
"It is clearly breaking the law and they think they are being clever by doing it. But there is a very real chance that they will end up facing the law and in court to face criminal proceedings."
Critics claim Mr Livingstone's pledge to save Londoners £1,000 a year in fares does not add up but the Labour candidate said the extra money would not be raised by re-introducing the western extension of the congestion charge.
It was scrapped by Mr Johnson in 2010 after 62 per cent of the 13,000 people consulted backed its removal.
"I make no apology for the fact that the focus of my transport policy is to make it cheaper for Londoners to get around," he said. "If I could flick a switch and re-introduce the western extension then I would.
"It is costing us more than £50m in lost revenue but the reality is that it would now cost us more than £150m to re-introduce so I will not be bringing it back."
Mr Livingstone's accusations levelled at the council have been described as 'ludicrous' and 'offensive' by its community engagement leader Councillor Harry Phibbs.
"It seems to me that Ken is getting increasingly divorced from reality," he said. "His claims are becoming more wild and more offensive and he is losing all credibility.
"It is all very well if he disagrees with the regeneration of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates but to make such wild claims that the project is illegal is simply ludicrous."