London Mayoral Election - HuffPost Takes The Temperature In Kensal Green

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Local publican Jason complains abut the "ridiculously high" financial burden for business. | Asa Bennett

At the last London Mayoral elections, Labour won the constituency of Brent and Harrow by just 2,000 votes. It is said to be one of the most marginal constituencies for the London Assembly, changing hands from Labour to Tory and back again.

If Ken Livingstone wants to ensure victory for 2012, he'll have to make sure that the Labour Party still keeps hold of places like this. We thought it worth seeing how people are feeling about the upcoming mayoral election.

Speaking to residents in Kensal Green, many of them seem deeply disengaged from London politics, even though the elections for London Mayor are less than a month away. Some are so turned off that they weren't aware elections were even happening.

"I didn't know there actually was a Mayor! Is he important?" one resident admits, who has lived there "for years".

"I don't care about it, what has the Mayor ever done for me?", said Ali, who runs a newsagent off Kensal Rise.

Others respond to the contest dismissively, some with rather unprintable remarks about "useless" politicians.

Michela, a local student, was more lucid about the disenchantment.

"I'm just fed up with it all. You can have an opinion and vote, but in the end politicians say one thing but they won't keep their promises. I think that will happen with whoever you vote for," she said.

The main issue affecting her was the cost of transport. "It's so expensive - buses, tubes, everything!" she said. "The only thing that has changed for the better with buses is maybe there are a few more".

She was dismissive about Ken Livingstone's campaign pledge to slash tube fares. "It's tempting, but whether he'll keep to that promise? Who knows!".

Jason, manager of the Earl of Portobello, is undecided who he'd support - describing himself as "very split down the middle".

He is very quick to name one of the most significant threats to his livelihood - "the congestion charge".

"It's a massive problem. A lot of people would come by, have a few drinks and go off, but after it came in, they'd not be in the area. You lose money"

He was especially pleased by Boris Johnson's decision to scrap the western extension of the Congestion Charge, even though it was criticised as a "big mistake" for the environment. "Scrapping the western extension really worked. When it came in, it affected the area massively".

However, he's not certain to vote for Boris in the upcoming election. He says he "leans towards" the Mayor, unless he is "swayed" by someone else.

Local businesses, according to Jason, are suffering from a "ridiculously high rate" of tax.

"I know a consortium of local business people have got together and decided they are not going to pay their council tax. What they've agreed is they'll pay the council tax on what it has been for the last couple of years, but the increase? They'll refuse."

"They're pretty much boycotting it," he adds.

On finding one of the businesses in this "consortium", the owner declares the tax levels are "ridiculous". "There has been a massive percentage on what it was, local business just cannot survive" I'm told.

So it seems that this part of London doesn't feel heard by local politicians. As one elderly resident says to me, "City Hall is an astronomic waste of money - what is it doing there? They do nothing useful".

With the amount of disaffection among voters, the mayoral candidates are going to have to fight for every vote to win this region. Jason wasn't the first voter to admit he might be "swayed" by another candidate, there seems to be a sizeable portion of floating voters that a plucky candidate can engage.

After Boris Johnson's passionate display of disagreement with Ken Livingstone, maybe they're upping their efforts to win over London voters.

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