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Mayoral candidates join South Bank TV debate

James Hatts

The three leading contenders for the London mayoralty came to the London Studios on the South Bank on Wednesday for the recording of a debate for ITV London and LBC 97.3.

The debate, hosted by London Tonight presenter Alastair Stewart, was filmed in Studio 1 at the London Studios in Upper Ground.

Conservative candidate Steve Norris spoke of his desire to ensure quality as well as quantity in provision for cyclists and pedestrians, citing the recently remodelled Blackfriars Bridge cycle lane, where Vicki McCreery died last month, as an example of an "utterly mediocre" cycling facility.

Architect Maxwell Hutchinson pressed Simon Hughes on his views on tall buildings, pointing to his support for the so-called Shard of Glass at London Bridge, in Hughes' North Southwark & Bermondsey constituency. Hughes denied that he shared the current mayor's enthusiasm for skyscrapers but would support them where they were appropriate, including the City and London Bridge.

Hughes, Norris and Livingstone were interrogated by a panel consisting of LBC presenter Nick Ferrari, former Sunday Express editor Eve Pollard and the New Statesman's Cristina Odone.

The candidates were also quizzed by celebrity audience members including journalist David Banks, chef Brian Turner, Harriet Scott of Heart 106.2 and publicist Max Clifford.

Southwark resident and activist Peter Tatchell put a question to the man who defeated him in the infamous 1983 North Southwark and Bermondsey by-election.

Of the other seven aspirants for control of City Hall, only two were present at the debate: Darren Johnson of the Green Party and Ram Gidoomal of the Christian People's Alliance, who each got a brief opportunity to speak at the end of the programme.

The debate – entitled Who Wants to be a London Mayor? – will be broadcast at 11pm on Thursday 3 June on both ITV1 London and LBC 97.3. Highlights of the debate can also be heard on Friday morning at 10am on LBC 97.3 when James O'Brien will be hosting a phone-in on the issues raised.

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