On Tuesday 21 February, Age UK London and Greater London Forum for Older People (GLF) held a Mayoral Election event for older Londoners, in which the three leading Mayoral candidates, Boris Johnson, Ken Livingstone and Brian Paddick, shared a platform.
It was the first time Boris and Ken had shared a platform in four years, so there was an atmosphere of expectation and excitement – as well as a huge media turnout - in Friends House, where the event was hosted.
Over 230 older people from across London arrived at 12.30pm for lunch and registration. At 1.30pm, they made their way to the Small Meeting House, where they found delegate packs on their seats. In the delegate packs was Age UK London and GLF’s ‘Older People’s Manifesto’, which was launched on the same day.
Older People's Manifesto
In our Manifesto, we call on the incoming London Mayor and London Assembly to make older people a Mayoral priority and to take action in nine areas to improve the quality of life and enhance the status and influence of older people in the capital.
Glyn Kyle, Chair of Age UK London, introduced the event and Sam Mauger, CEO of Age UK London, who would be Chairing. Sam outlined the format of the event and Gordon Deuchars, Policy & Campaigns Manager at Age UK London, opened it with a presentation of the ‘Older People’s Manifesto’, which was well received by the audience.
Then the three Mayoral candidates had five minutes to pitch to the audience what they would do for older people if they were elected as Mayor of London.
The three candidates
Boris Johnson outlined his achievements in office and announced that he would retain the age criteria for eligibility to the Freedom Pass (it is currently 60). He defended the costs of his bike hire scheme and the rising figures for some crimes, such as burglary.
Ken Livingstone promised to be a full-time Mayor and challenged Boris to make the same pledge. He promised to cut fuel bills by £150 a year, drawing on the £400m pot for home energy efficiency. By insulating more homes and prioritising older people, he promised that bills will come down. He also announced a London energy purchasing co-operative that would buy gas and electricity wholesale, thereby reducing prices, rather than being beholden to major energy suppliers.
Brian Paddick focused on tackling crime and making people feel safer and promised to protect the Freedom Pass. He also promised to put in place a Deputy Mayor for older people, if he was elected. He said that he would increase police numbers and cut the council tax precept (the mayor's share of the council tax levy).
Questions and answers
After the candidates spoke, there was an hour-long Q&A session. The hour was divided into four 15-minute sessions focusing on different themes: stereotypes and diversity; transport; housing and other issues. The audience put a number of interesting questions to the candidates. Download the minutes from the event to read the questions and answers in full.
At 3.00pm Sam closed the event, inviting everyone to write any remaining questions they had for the candidates on Post-It notes, to fill in their monitoring and evaluation forms and to sign Age UK’s ‘Care in Crisis’ petition. People made their way downstairs for tea and biscuits and the Mayoral candidates went home, hoping to have made a good impression.
See more photos of the event: