UK Politics

Local elections: Lawrence Webb defends UKIP vision for London

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Media captionUKIP candidate Lawrence Webb on crime and pub policies

The UK Independence Party candidate for Mayor of London has defended making policy pledges which he would not have the power to deliver, saying his job is to "create a vision" for the capital.

Lawrence Webb has called for smoking rooms in pubs and for VAT on beer to be slashed to help struggling landlords.

He said he was espousing a business-friendly climate and other candidates had made similarly broad promises.

The media had wrongly portrayed the contest as a "two-horse race", he said.

Mr Webb is one of seven candidates standing in next month's contest.

Before he won the UKIP candidacy last autumn, Mr Webb ran the party's London office and was an adviser to one its MEPs in Brussels, Gerard Batten.

Mr Webb's manifesto includes pledges to halt EU legislation damaging the interests of the City of London, give Londoners priority in social housing queues, limit the extension of the low emission vehicle zone and bring offenders to court much more quickly.

'Upholding the law'

He has also called for greater allowance for citizens' arrests in cases of low-level criminal activity such as anti-social behaviour by teenagers.

"You see kids smashing up a bus stop and things like that," he told the BBC's Daily Politics. "People are afraid to intervene because they fear they will be arrested and charged.

"People used to have respect for adults. If people told them to pack it in, they would. Now they don't."

He added: "If people are intervening to prevent crime, the law should protect those people that are upholding the law. Not everyone is going to do it but where it is done they should be supported."

Mr Webb has been criticised by sections of the media for making pledges on tax and other subjects he would not have the powers to deliver as London mayor.

But he said he was right to highlight measures that he said could help stop the decline of key industries and to protect jobs.

"What we have to do is to create an environment which is good for business and I think it is a point that needs to be made," he said.

"People don't get drunk in pubs. They buy cheap alcohol in supermarkets. Landlords are fairly responsible towards their drinkers and they need supporting."

Voting system

Other candidates had made promises that they could not actually implement, he claimed.

"Part of the mayor's role is to create a vision for London and that is what I am doing... Boris (Johnson) can't build an airport in the Thames Estuary but there has been an awful amount of coverage about it."

Mr Webb, who is also standing as a UKIP candidate for the London Assembly, said the party was encouraging its supporters to cast their second preference votes in the 3 May contest for Conservative candidate Boris Johnson.

Under the rules of the contest, if no candidate wins 50% of the vote in the first round all but the top two candidates are eliminated. The second preferences of those who voted for eliminated candidates are then reallocated and the individual with the most votes wins.

Mr Webb said the electoral system - known as the supplementary vote - was not well understood and "if the media better explained the voting system it would open up the contest".