Hall denies she’s using ‘doughnut’ strategy in race for City Hall

Conservative mayor candidate visits outer London suburbs of Chingford, Woodford, Hornchurch, Upminster and Orpington in last four days but says she’s campaigning “absolutely everywhere”, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Susan Hall (credit LDRS/Noah Vickers)
Susan Hall (credit LDRS/Noah Vickers)

Tory mayoral candidate Susan Hall has denied she is pursuing a ‘doughnut’ strategy of the kind used by Boris Johnson in the race for City Hall.

The Conservative assembly member said she was attempting to appeal to voters across London, rather than mainly focusing on the ‘doughnut ring’ of suburbs which surround the inner city.

The strategy of appealing to the more Conservative-leaning outer boroughs was successfully adopted by Johnson in his 2008 and 2012 election wins. In the last four days alone, Hall has been out campaigning in Chingford, Woodford, Hornchurch, Upminster and Orpington.

But asked whether she was targeting outer London in particular, she said she had been campaigning “absolutely everywhere”.

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I don’t mind whether they’ve voted for any other party before. I want to hear what Londoners say, and that means inner London and outer London.

“I was in a ward the other day that had three Labour councillors, so it could be termed as a Labour ward. It doesn’t matter […] My strategy is to talk to Londoners and hopefully get their vote.”

Following 2022’s local council elections, the Conservatives were left in control of only one inner London borough – Kensington and Chelsea. The party’s other five boroughs – Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Harrow and Hillingdon – are all on the capital’s fringe.

In 2021’s mayoral contest, Kensington and Chelsea was the only inner London borough in which Tory candidate Shaun Bailey received the most votes.

However, mayoral elections are conducted using a single London-wide electorate, meaning that the winning candidate is not required to win a certain number of boroughs or ‘seats’ to claim victory.

Hall has pledged to cancel the outer London expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) on “day one” of her mayoralty, arguing that it has been “absolutely devastating” for people with non-compliant vehicles “who cannot afford to go to work, get to the hospital or visit their family”.

The zone was expanded to cover the whole of London by Labour mayor Sadiq Khan on 29th August last year. It was previously contained to the area within the North Circular and South Circular roads.

Khan says the move has enabled five million Londoners to breathe cleaner air and that the policy will save lives. About 19 out of 20 vehicles seen driving on an average day across London are Ulez-compliant, according to the latest data.

Asked how she would cancel the expanded Ulez, she suggested that she would issue the same order to Transport for London (TfL) as the mayor did for Christmas Day, when he temporarily suspended the charge for 24 hours.

“Quite frankly, Sadiq Khan managed to stop it on Christmas Day. I will manage to stop it – that’s it,” she said.

The candidate added that she was confident she would be able to remove the expanded zone in this way, saying: “I have made it [the policy] absolutely clear, so it’s a massive mandate I will be getting […] to be the mayor of London.

“I have made it abundantly clear that if you vote for me, you are voting for the Ulez expansion to be stopped on day one. I couldn’t have made it clearer, and I will continue to make it clear up until [the mayoral election on] 2nd May.”

She said however that she would not remove the Ulez cameras themselves from outer London, and would instead repurpose them.

“They are all equipped with ANPR, which is automatic number-plate recognition, so the police will have that as a massive tool in its box,” she said.

“If there’s any people that they need to keep an eye on, they will be able to track them.”

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