UNASHAMEDLY on the election trail, Mayor of London, Boris Johnson breezed into Croydon on Wednesday. He started his trip visiting the new rail bridge over East Croydon before heading off to the Whitgift Centre and North End. His progress started with him surrounded by an entourage of Tory councillors and election candidates. But they soon found themselves taking a back seat as they were replaced by throngs of shoppers all eager to shake Boris's hand and be photographed alongside him. On more than one occasion council leader, Mike Fisher, forsook his electioneering duties to take pictures for Boris fans of all ages on their mobile phones. The Mayor obviously relishes the public attention and caused his minders a few heart flutters when they failed to steer him away from the run down St George's Walk shopping centre - not an image of Croydon the ruling Tories were keen to foster. But Boris charged on regardless to have his picture taken alongside one of the centre's business owners. He told the Advertiser when asked why he was in Croydon: "I am here to support the excellent work the council is doing." He was also in the town, he said, because "amazing things are starting to happen in Croydon". Verbally linking the new bridge with Westfield/Hammerson's plans for the Whitgift Centre, the Mayor said: "Building the bridge will help people get through to what will be one of the greatest shopping centres in Europe." And leaving no doubt he wanted people to re-elect Croydon's Tory council, he added: "My message to voters is to vote for a council which keeps council tax low, drives down costs and has a jobs programme. "Without the council and Mike Fisher's leadership, the Westfield/Hammerson deal would not have happened."
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