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Raynsford makes transport top priority

NEWS

CONSTRUCTION MINISTER Nick Raynsford was this week keeping his powder dry about how he plans to revitalise the capital if elected Mayor of London, but put transport to the top of his agenda.

The MP for Greenwich and Woolwich, also minister for housing, planning and London, launched his campaign for Mayor at last week's Labour Party Conference (NCE last week). He urged delegates to back him as the credible opponent to Tory candidate Jeffrey Archer, who overcame former transport minister Steve Norris to win the Conservative Party nomination.

Raynsford said that tackling the failings and weaknesses in the current transport system - reducing congestion - was top of his list of priorities. He added that he would also improve the environment, fight to reduce pollution and enhance the current housing stock if elected.

But Raynsford has yet to unveil any hard manifesto plans, and is unlikely to do so until the campaign kicks off. It is assumed he will back Government plans for congestion charging and the public private partnership upgrade of the Tube.

Raynsford felt he had 'the credentials to do the job' after being minister for London since 1997 and shadow spokesman for the capital for four years before that. He has been closely involved with legislation enabling the Greater London Authority to be set up and led last year's campaign to win the capital's support for a Mayor.

The Labour Party is expected to elect its candidate for Mayor within the next four to six weeks. Health Minister Frank Dobson added his name to the growing list of candidates which includes former transport minister Glenda Jackson, former GLC leader Ken Livingstone and broadcaster Trevor Phillips.

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