18 November 2011

Westminster is better with Boris

By Will Goodhand, Westminster resident

The certainty that I was doing the right thing backing Boris in 2008 came as he toured my ward, the economically deprived and ethnically diverse Church Street in Westminster North.

As expected, he was mobbed by supporters - drinkers rushing from a local pub, hollering “Boris! Boris!”, trying to entice him in for a pint. Yet if there was any doubt about the nature of  Boris his priorities were quickly laid bare. Politely eschewing the pub-goers, Boris got into deep discussion with passers-by and then market-trader after market-trader, deep-seated concern for the community evident in every exchange.

Eventually, Johnson looked up and realised that one of the people on his walkabout had slipped away, a man in late middle-age and a mackintosh.

“Oh God, that was him, wasn’t it?!” Boris exclaimed in trademark flummoxed style, “He’s a world famous journalist from the New York Times, he’s one of my heroes! Dammit, I meant to speak to him!”

And so it was - Boris had been so engaged with the local community, he had completely passed up the opportunity to network with a member of the great and good. I had seen just how passionate, focused and devoted Boris was in my own community.

And he has delivered on his promises - making London - and indeed Westminster - a better place to be.

Take transport: Boris bikes are all over the place - practical and eagerly embraced by folks in suits and tracksuits alike. Crossrail is finally underway after years of stalled talks, removing the perpetual uncertainty from the east end of Oxford Street. And Boris’s robust representations made sure that Londoners did not bear a disproportionate share of the cost.

As he promised, Boris killed Ken’s punitive plans to extend the tentacles of Congestion Charging - and set up a permit scheme to get utility companies to behave responsibly when digging up the roads - something absolutely critical which Ken never bothered to get round to.

And, how refreshing it has been to have such a positive, generous-hearted voice speaking up for London and Londoners. In 2012, I will be proud that Boris will represent Londoners as the world watches the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

To find out more about what how Boris is delivering for Westminster, visit www.backboris2012.com/where-you-live/westminster

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