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London’s Lib Dem Mayor candidate backs Women’s World Cup bid and legalising weed

Liberal Democrat's London Mayoral candidate, Siobhan Benita, talks to the Metro about her campaign

Lib Dem London Mayor candidate Siobhan Benita wants to ‘recapture the spirit’ of the 2012 Olympic Games (Picture: Joe Newman)

The Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London has vowed to do all she can to bring the Women’s Football World Cup to the capital.

Siobhan Benita says she wants to bid for the 2027 event to give Londoners ‘a bit of fun’ and ‘recapture the spirit’ of the 2012 Olympics.

The Lib Dem spokesperson for London, who stood in a previous race as an independent candidate, also backs legalising marijuana and launching a series of Express transport schemes late at night.

She said: ‘I really want to recapture that spirit of the Olympics. If there was one moment in time where you think “that is what London is about” and when we all felt so proud to be Londoners, it was the Olympics.

‘Women’s football kind of epitomises so many things I want to push in this campaign. The whole idea of sport and activities that are good for physical and mental health and women’s football in particular.’

Liberal Democrat's London Mayoral candidate, Siobhan Benita, talks to the Metro about her campaign

Ms Benita’s plans for marijuana could come to nothing if the government does not agree to her scheme (Picture: Joe Newman)

The bidding process for the event is yet to begin, but the United States, South Africa, Holland, Chile and Nordic nations have been touted as other possible hosts.

Ms Benita, 48, hopes to see the tournament staged in the final year of what would be her second term, and added: ‘I think people need a bit of fun and a bit of entertainment at the moment and giving London something to really get behind would be really nice thing.’

She is set to meet with the Football Association’s director of women’s football, Baroness Sue Campbell, to discuss the practicalities on Thursday, with England already set to hold the Women’s European Championships in 2021.

But Ms Benita face faces an uphill battle to become mayor in this year’s May 7 contest, with Labour’s Sadiq Khan widely tipped to be re-elected.

Competition will also come from Conservative Shaun Bailey, independent Rory Stewart and Green Party leader Sian Berry, alongside a number of less well known candidates.

LYON, FRANCE - JULY 07: Carli Lloyd of the USA lifts the trophy as USA celebrate victory during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Final match between The United State of America and The Netherlands at Stade de Lyon on July 07, 2019 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

The USA lifts the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France (Picture: Getty Images)

In exclusive interviews with Metro.co.uk, both Mr Bailey and Mr Stewart have said they would prioritise safety on the capital’s streets if they are elected.

Meanwhile, Ms Benita would back launching ‘night buses to outer London’ and extending night tubes to the District and Metropolitan lines.

She wants the transport options to ‘express’ out to zone 4 and then begin dropping people off from there.

However, Ms Benita conceded that commuters would ‘have to pay for this’ beyond the daily cap, comparing the would-be service’s price with using Uber.

Another potential idea involves trialling the legalisation of marijuana in London, which she hopes could help combat knife crime.

FILE PICTURE - Commuters on the London underground. Pollution on the London tube network is around FIFTEEN times greater than it is above ground, according to a new study. See NATIONAL story NNtube. Researchers from King?s College London carried out the first comprehensive survey of pollution on the Tube, evaluating the exposure of people travelling on different parts of the network. They found that concentrations of fine particles - known as PM2.5 - which are linked to many health issues were far greater on the Underground than in other modes of transport like taking the bus or driving. The study also found that the median concentrations recorded on the Victoria and Northern lines - the most polluted on the network - were greater than any recordings taken on subway systems in New York, Los Angles, Beijing, Guangzhou, Sydney, Seoul or Barcelona. The stations with the most exposure to pollution, and where the researchers are most urgently urging the authorities to intervene, were revealed as Oxford Circus, Waterloo and London Bridge. The District Line and the Docklands Light Railway, large sections of which are above ground, were the lines with the lowest concentration of pollution.

The night tube would be extended under Ms Benita’s plans (Picture: SWNS)

The small business proceedings of a local marijuana dispensary in Portland, Oregon.

Other countries around the world have legalised marijuana (Picture: Getty Images)

She explained: ‘So much (serious youth violence) is linked to the illegal drugs market.

‘There is an urgent public health need to do this… If you want to treat the knife crime epidemic that we’ve got you have to look at regulating the cannabis market… (and) remove the power from drugs gangs.’

Yet the idea would not even get off the ground without government go-ahead.

Ms Benita claims Boris Johnson’s Conservative administration could back the idea, with London used as a guinea pig before ‘rolling it out across the rest of the country,’ but whether that would happen in practice is far from certain.

She added that economically the move would be ‘very sensible’ and continued: ‘We have to accept that drugs are so prevalent that so many young people are going to be trying this.

Liberal Democrat's London Mayoral candidate, Siobhan Benita, talks to the Metro about her campaign

Ms Benita, 48, would extend transport options for Londoners at night if her successful in her uphill battle to become London Mayor (Picture: Joe Newman)

‘I would much rather that it was a regulated market where you can control the quality and the potency so that you can be as safe as possible.’

Ms Benita, who has previously backed using money on dormant Oyster cards to help the homeless, also wants to bring in standardised recycling schemes across all of London.

However, the married mum-of-two – who was born in Wimbledon and grew up nearby – says her major priorities would be knife crime, cross rail, rough sleeping and air pollution, as well as ‘getting stuff done’.

But her bid for the position is unlikely to have been helped by former candidate to be prime minister Mr Stewart entering the race.

He was considered to be on the liberal wing of the Conservative party before being kicked out over Brexit, which may lead to some would-be Lib Dem voters instead backing him.

Ms Benita admits another challenge she faces is getting people to ‘know about her’ and that one reason for her joining her party in the aftermath of Brexit was that a party machine helps campaigning.



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